GADFLY: It Can Happen Here! 

“There are only two families in the world, as my grandmother used to say; the haves and the have-nots.” --Sancho Panza in Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes

 

Hey, you!  Yeah, you, sitting in front of your TV or computer screen, watching pictures of France burning.  Maybe you're not all that upset that the French are getting what you consider to be their comeuppance for thumbing their nose at “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”  You may even revel in the Franco-bashing statements made by Bill O'Reilly, including about the French people's supposed aversion to personal hygiene, and the fact that THEY DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH (the uncivilized bastards).  You're probably smug in the assurance that the French riots are just another one of those disasters that only happen in some other part of the world.

 

I have some news for you: the same conditions which gave rise to the rioting in France exist right here in the good old U.S. of A.  In fact, in some ways they're even worse here than they are in France. We know that racial and economic tensions can, and have, reached flashpoints in this country.  Los Angeles in 1992, the unrest in New Orleans that followed the “natural selection” of African Americans as the victims of government ineptitude following Hurricane Katrina, and the rioting in Toledo last month in response to a hate group's demonstration are just the most recent examples of a phenomenon with a rich history, much of which has had a racial etiology.

 

The rioting in France is a manifestation of the disenfranchisement of a significant subculture in that country, African and Arab immigrants (i.e., black people in a white society), whom the government has taken great pains to marginalize and relegate to second class citizenship status.  These immigrants, despite being French citizens, are already the victims of a form of apartheid not unlike what existed in South Africa.  But it didn't help that situation much when the French interior minister referred to the rioters using a word as inflammatory to them as the “n” word would be to African Americans here.

 

The uprising in France is also the natural consequence of a worldwide phenomenon, but one which has gotten, and is getting, progressively worse in this country: the gap between the haves and the have-nots. A recent study by the United Nations Human Development Report Office shows the bad news that of the 124 nations studied, the U.S. ranks 74th, behind Vietnam, but the good news, that it still ranks slightly ahead of Iran.  France comes in at 34th.  This mirrors similar studies done by the World Bank and by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the latter of which shows that, of the 27 member countries, the U.S. ranks 24th. The disparity is no more graphically illustrated than in the comparison of executive to worker compensation.  According to a recent survey, executive compensation in the U.S. is over 400 times what line workers make.  That same comparison is only 15 times in France.

 

On virtually any measure you care to name, the equivalent subculture in the U.S. to the one rioting in France enjoys a much lower quality of life than the middle class.  Unemployment levels, incarceration levels, income levels, education levels, health levels are all disproportionately higher among African Americans.  The natural consequence of this increasing gap is, inevitably, disaffection (to put it mildly), and, ultimately, violence.

 

Now, would you like a serving of “freedom fries” with that dose of reality?

 

 

 

           

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Busting Some Moves

      Democrats work the suburbs; Reginald Tate withdraws from ALEC; Commission hires Allan Wade to combat Luttrell suit.
    • Reginald Milton

      An office-holder who survived early struggles, heads to the next turn with thoughts of leadership.  

Blogs

News Blog

Memphis Pets of the Week (Dec. 14-20)

Tiger Blue

Tigers 67, Albany 58

News Blog

Fire damages Pete and Sam's restaurant

News Blog

Report: Memphis 'Ground Zero for Government Waste'

News Blog

IMAX Set For Memphis Return

Beyond the Arc

Heat 107, Grizzlies 82: One Thought

From My Seat

1997-2017: Twenty Years of Memphis Sports

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Letterman Jacket

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Marty Aussenberg

  • Union Made

    At this low point in labor history, the Gadfly is on strike from the consensus.
    • Jun 28, 2012
  • GADFLY: It's Fall Already, but "Occupy Wall Street" Has Finally Brought an American Spring

    "The media were faced with the problem of how best to discredit this rising tide of protest, and settled on suggesting that the protesters didn't even know what they were protesting about.... Strange how that criticism was never leveled at the Tea Party...."
    • Oct 3, 2011
  • GADFLY: Our 9/11 Mourning is Misdirected

    "I would rather mourn the lack of accountability of the people who let it happen, or the people who continue to be its victims, far-removed from where it happened though they may be...."
    • Sep 13, 2011
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Filling the Space

    For all the in-fighting, we’re all looking for the same thing, and sometimes we can realize it.
    • Jul 14, 2016
  • Cohen Tells It!

    In which Memphis’ Democratic congressman Steve Cohen, addressing an apparent GOP effort to muddy the waters on the Russian inquiry, not only takes no crap but gives it back where it came from. This is worth watching from beginning to end -- even for those who might disagree on the politics of the matter.
    • Jul 26, 2017
  • Wellspring Politics in Memphis

    With a crucial deadline approaching next week, the local “Protect the Aquifier” movement picks up steam.
    • Nov 24, 2016
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation