Monday, November 14, 2005

"Troubled Neighborhoods"

From the speech Chirac gave last night (my translation):
It is a crisis of direction, a crisis of references, it is a crisis of identity. We will respond to it by being firm, just, and faithful to the values of France ...

Thanks to the schools, thanks to the work of educators, a considerable number of youths who com from the troubled neighborhoods (quartiers difficiles) succeed in all areas/ But certain territories accrue too many problems, too many difficulties. Territories confronted by violence and [illegal] trafficking. Territories where unemployment is massive and urbanism inhumane. Territories where children lack schooling, where many young people are at pains to find employment, even when they succceed in their studies ...

Much has already been done: urban zones to bring employment back to the neighborhoods; the plan for urban renovation to replace [the high rises] with more humane habitation ... The education law is in effect: it gives to each student the means to acquire the foundations of indispensible knowledge and permits him/her to fight against the plague of illiteracy ...

However, my fellow citizens, we will not change these things in depth without the effort of each person. Without a profound evolution of the spirit ...

We know well that discrimination undermine the very foundations of our Republic. A high authority to fight discrimination has been created. Its powers are considerable, seeing as it must impose sanctions. But we must not fool ourselves. The battle can won only if each and every one of us involves himself truly and personally. ...
Chirac seems to hit all the right notes, addressing the suburbs and discrimination. It looks to me, however, that there is more weight on the former than the latter. He speaks of racism, but not race. He never mentions Muslims, or Islam, or Africains. If he is content to orient solutions towards "troubled neighborhoods," than the debate might be sterile.

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