Just in case they were wondering. The riots in France weren’t “Muslim riots”:http://www.tnr.com/blog/spine?pid=53207 that are only likely to end “when the muezzin summons the faithful to prayer from Notre Dame.” Nor does anyone except Stanley Kurtz and the more or less deranged (but I repeat myself) believe that France is descending into a ‘civil war’ where ‘Islamic militias [will] tear [the] capital apart.’ To quote two sources that, like, actually know what they’re talking about.

“Mitchell Cohen”:http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=659 in _Dissent_.

Media often made it appear that everyone detained in last fall’s violence was North African, but recent studies complicate the picture. A study of the Yvelines suburb near Paris showed that 33 percent of those questioned by authorities were “European” in origin, 35.5 percent were North African, and 28.9 percent African.

Last week’s “Economist”:http://www.economist.com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RDQRPVN

When the riots started, they were treated in some quarters as a “suburban intifada”. “Jihad comes home”, ran one newspaper headline. Some American observers regarded the uprising as further proof of Europe’s inability to control the spread of radical Islam. … A report into the riots by the French Renseignements Généraux, the domestic intelligence-gathering service, however, found the opposite. Islamists had “no role in setting off the violence or in fanning it,” it concluded. Clichy’s mayor agrees. “I completely reject the idea that the riots were an Islamist plot,” he says. “During the rioting I never heard of a young man burning a car in the name of Allah; but I heard of plenty of Muslims saying, ‘go home in the name of Allah’.” Instead, the intelligence officers reckoned, the rioting was a “popular revolt” provoked by a toxic concentration of social problems: joblessness, poverty, illegal immigration, organised crime, family breakdown and a lack of parental authority. France had been so preoccupied with watching Islamic radicals, said the report, that it had neglected the wider problems in its banlieues.

Bloggerheads

by Henry on November 2, 2006

I made my “debut”:http://bloggingheads.tv/video.php?id=151 on Bloggingheads TV yesterday, arguing (well, actually, mostly agreeing) with Bob Wright about Iraq, North Korea, the netroots and other stuff. I’m billed as “a pale imitation of Mickey Kaus” (Bob’s usual sparring partner). As you’ll see from the video, the ‘pale’ bit at least is right on target …

Hey kids! The Sheri Berman event is over, but it’s too soon to be bawling in your cornflakes about how you have nothing to read … about books! Over at the Valve we’re hosting – or at least keeping track of – a book event about Michael Bérubé’s What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? [amazon].

In inverse news, I notice that in the last few days Hugh Hewitt and Dean Barnett have made – by my count – 32 posts and/or major updates about this Kerry business. I guess you could say they’ve written a non-event book. (There’s another one. Make that: 33).

UPDATE: I think they’re up to 40.

Irresponsibility and Abortion in Nicaragua

by Ingrid Robeyns on November 2, 2006

I’m a few days late with this, but still wanted to write a short post about the “total ban on abortion in Nicaragua”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6089718.stm. Abortion is now a criminal act under _all_ circumstances, including when the life of the mother is in danger, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. There was not a single member of the Nicaraguan parliament who voted against the proposal, which has been explained by the fact that there are elections coming up soon, and no political party wanted to allienate the Catholic voters.
From a moral point of view, abortion is a very difficult issue for most people — also for the non-religious. But how can one vote for legislation that forces women to give birth to a baby that is the result of rape or incest? Surely those parliamentarians must not have the faintest idea of what rape and incest does to the life of a girl or a woman. And even worse, how can one take responsibility for legally forcing women to continue a pregnancy if it is likely that both the mother and the foetus will die?
Moreover, from a pragmatic/political point of view it’s clear “what will happen”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1932576,00.html. Girls and women from rich families will go to Cuba (where abortion is legal), and those from poorer families will have illegal (read: unsafe) abortions. The best road to minimising the number of abortions is not to criminalise them, but rather to acknowledge that, whatever degree of (religious) moralising, most people will have sex anyway; to make contraceptives available; and to support women who are faced with an unwanted pregnancy so that they have effective choices between different options, and that, if they choose for abortion, they will have it as early as possible in the pregnancy and under safe circumstances. And let’s hope that no other countries follow this irresponsible move by the Nicaraguan parliament.