Friday, November 11, 2005

French Muslims & American Blacks

Marc over at American Future has a discussion on the parallels between the U.S. Civil Rights Movement that has largely permitted black integration and France's current troubles. Here is my contribution:

The American solution consisted of several steps:

1) The Civil Rights Act of 1964 dismantled legal barriers.

2) Suspension of the Draft (1970) meant that blacks (I use "black" because I know too many white African-Americans) could no longer complain that military service was an unjust burden for people without equal rights.

3) Massive increases in welfare payments (~1972?) paid off the masses.

4) Affirmative Action (starting mid-70s) allowed blacks to feel they could get a step up in the world as they couldn't before.

5) Welfare reform (1996) removed the rent-seeking ennui at the root of minority dissatisfaction. (The welfare state is very boring and offers no opportunity for jobless men on the dole to prove themselves.)

Sometime in the next ten years I hope Affirmative Action will be eliminated, except as a monitoring function. Then, after seventy years - three generations - America's Civil Rights Revolution will be complete.

For I date the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement to 1943, when the Tuskeegee Airmen demonstrated in World War II that blacks could fly and fight just as well as anybody else, that they could be entrusted to kill white people and be patriotic Americans. The lesson bit deep in the military and spread from there.

France doesn't have the luxury of a seventy-year time frame. The Tuskeegee Airmen started the Civil Rights Movement with a demonstration of their patriotism. What are the rioters in France demonstrating?

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