The story has been told time and again, but that doesn’t mean that the world should cease paying attention.
France has sown its seeds of change by inviting in, settling, and allowing a sizeable Muslim immigrant population to exist independently of French courts, culture, and customs. Resulting terror attacks have been witnessed time and again, with the Bataclan, Charlie Hebdo, and kosher deli attacks garnering rightful international fear and, as intended, terror.
For the French, terror has become a way of life, accepted or not. You probably weren’t aware of the incident that occurred in March of this year.
‘A gunman claiming allegiance to Islamic State took hostages at a supermarket in Trebes, in the south west of the country. The hostage-taker - said to be a Moroccan national in his 30s known to the intelligence services - reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he burst into the Super U store. He was shot dead after a brief siege.’ (The Telegraph)
Change the name of the terrorist (only slightly, there’s not a ton of Todds, Francois’s, or Geoffreys among these terror-related news reports), alter the venue (again, not by much; typically, it will be a crowded area, and often a place where Semites are likely to congregate), and insert the multiples of victims and “Allah is Great” shout. Details change slightly, but the outcome remains the same. The problems persist.
But what these terror attacks, treated all-too-casually by the rest of the world and even the native French, tend to obscure are the subtler, and arguably more consequential developments playing out in France and most of Western Europe. They are the often-overlooked daily activities that are perhaps even stronger indicators that French, and European, culture is being willfully, defiantly uprooted. These developments are indicators of the parallel societies that we know exist throughout Western Europe – in schools, courts, city streets, everywhere.
And, perhaps no venue is more critical to the future of France and Europe than the classrooms. These are, along with the home, the places where children’s’ most formative thoughts and beliefs are molded, where they will develop the worldview that will guide them through their formative years, and into adulthood. Change is possible, sure, but these early years play a significant, if not indelible, role in forming who they will become. And, in the case of France, the classrooms will play a critical role in determining what France will become, what the term “French” will come to mean in the not-so-distant future.
A look at those classrooms is not promising. In fact, an examination of the forces pushing for radical change, change that is undeniably anti-assimilation in its bent, reveals a determination that is concerning, to put it quite mildly. The lessons being taught in many French schools have become, in far too many cases, undeniably Islamic. At first, it was the encouragement of ‘pluralism’, tolerance of hijabs, and virtual segregation by culture. To his credit, President Emmanuel Macron spoke of making an ‘Islam for France’, a subtle way of saying ‘we’re going to need you to assimilate’.
However, Macron must know what he is up against. If he thinks that his words are going to result in anything but a galvanized Islamic segment of France persisting in their customs, however barbaric or anti-European they may be, he is badly mistaken. And, while a simple thing such as speaking one’s language may seem harmless, and is harmless in a vacuum, France is not a vacuum, and neither is Europe. Taken in context, the reality that a serious push is being made to teach Arabic in schools is cause for serious concern.
Keep in mind that many, if not most, immigrant and second-generation Arabic children are exposed to Arabic – and Arabic alone – as a language in their homes. They speak it just fine, and no teacher in a French school is going to seriously improve their Arabic communication. The message is clear: Arabic should be taught to native French students. Translation: we are here, we’ve brought our culture, and now you must conform to us.
Apparently, this falls within the vision President Macron has for a French Islam.
‘President Emmanuel Macron’s government is considering giving parents a secular alternative to that intertwining of Arabic and Islam by prodding more of France’s public schools to offer children as young as age 6 Arabic lessons—without religious content.’ (Wall Street Journal)
Sure, it’s voluntary. And, in being voluntary, it is actually aimed at helping Arabic children speak more fluently. For now. And, even if this remains the case, it misses the point. Typically, when an immigrant enters a new nation, a nation they’ve come to because it holds for them the potential for a better life, they stress that their children learn the native language.
This has been the case for Italians, Germans, Koreans, Africans, Mexicans, and virtually every other immigrant group that has entered the United States over the decades and centuries. In France, this proven model of assimilation is being flipped on its head. Some have suggested that not teaching Arabic in schools has contributed to a cultural divide.
‘For senior French officials, the absence of Arabic in most public schools has had the unintended consequence of fueling communautarisme, a term the French use to describe the social divide between France’s Muslim-minority community and the rest of the country.’ (WSJ)
To subscribe to this logic, you’d have to believe that, somehow, an Arabic speaking population is ripe for assimilation. Which is, obviously, nonsense. If one wanted to lessen the cultural divide, they would teach these children to speak French. They would focus on ensuring that bridges are formed between native French children and their immigrant peers.
But, once again, France – in lockstep with much of its Western European neighbors – is proving that the discomfort necessary to create any semblance of unity in the future is far too difficult in the now to undertake. So, in the future, that cultural divide will remain, and likely grow even further. Whether the sides are screaming at each other in French of Arabic won’t much matter, regardless of the rationalizations that French politicos are making to believe that it will.