- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

At least the once-Western world is consistent: Like the terrorism that has engraved the blood-drenched anniversaries of September 11, March 11, and July 7 into collective memory, and has transformed Amman, Amsterdam, Baghdad, Bali, Beslan, Davao, Hadera, Haifa, Jakarta, Jerusalem, Nairobi, New Dehli, Sharm al-Sheikh, Tel Aviv and Tunisia into hallowed outposts of mass murder, the rioting that has convulsed France has nothing to do with Islam. At least, that’s the agreed-upon narrative. It’s our story, the subtext, the thread to which we cling. The problem driving “youths” to incinerate lines of parked buses or immolate the occasional grand-mere on crutches is French racism, institutional neglect, failure to integrate. It’s also snobbery, and don’t forget George W. Bush. But not Islam. Not anything to do with Islam and its non-assimilable legions in the heart of Europe.

That’s the word from intelligentsia all over. Even before the riot’s last fires have been kindled, let alone cooled, The Washington Post editorial page, for example, said — no, it insisted: “Islamic ideology and leaders have played no part in the disturbances and many of those who are participating are not Muslim.” Writing in the New York Times, Olivier Roy ruled Islam out with equally categorical and doctrinal confidence.

How do they know? Yes, the thugs we see depicted through the smoke of burning civilization aren’t dressed for the part by Central Casting — either in the beards and robes of the mosque, or the mask and scimitar of the jihad. They look like urban punks, “scum,” as French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy called them before diving under the covers with the rest of the Gallic government. They are, we hear tell, unemployed toughs and secular criminals, devoted not to Allah so much as to what you might call, loosely and very grimly, French “culture” — French pop culture, that is.

Writing in the Weekly Standard, Olivier Guitta offers a shocking look at one expression of that culture — rap music as we in the United States have never quite heard it, even at its “cop-killing” worst. As Mr. Guitta explains, some of the most successful bands in France are made up “mostly of French citizens of Arab or African descent” — like our pals in the French projects, or “cites.” But where so-called gangsta rap, American-style, glorifies senseless violence and sexual bestiality, Muslim rap, French-style, fuses that same violence and sexuality to attack the state.

Mr. Guitta has translated some choice examples. There is the rap band Sniper (nice), which, not incidentally, was unsuccessfully sued in 2004 by Mr. Sarkozy for violence and incitement in the song “La France.” Sniper sings: “We’re all hot for a mission to exterminate the government and the fascists… France is a b- and we’ve been betrayed… We f- France, we don’t care about the Republic and freedom of speech. We should change the laws so we can see Arabs and Blacks in power in the Elysee Palace. Things have to explode.”

Well, of course, things did. But not, our elites instruct us, because of Islamic attitudes toward a non-Islamic country, but because of establishment attitudes toward a downtrodden minority. Integration, we hear, or the lack thereof, is the problem, so integration is also the answer. But how will France — or “FranSSe,” as rapper Mr. R has titled this song — integrate this? “France is a b-, don’t forget to f- her to exhaustion. You have to treat her like a whore, man!… France is one of the b- who gave birth to you… I am not at home and I don’t give a d-, and besides the state can go f- itself. I pee on Napoleon and General de Gaulle… F- cops, sons of whores…” It goes on, lashing out in a similarly poisonous vein. Not that this stopped Fnac, the largest chain of French music stores, from praising the popular Mr. R as “a revelation.”

And so he and his rap brethren are. But a revelation of what — urban blight or ghetto jihad? Or some new, cultural permutation of both? The vicious contempt, the exhortation to humiliation, the vindictive rape imagery: These are the motifs, at least, of brutal conquest, patterns and expressions familiar to students of jihad for having repeated themselves over the centuries as non-Muslim lands — Dar al Harb (Land of War) — were conquered and subjugated as Dar al Islam (Land of Islam). Is that what’s going on in France? Without doubt, such music prefigures a state of war, although no one but the rioters seems to have been listening. Too bad no one is listening still.

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