De Villepin: “I am not sure you can call them riots”

Startling, I know, but that was an exact quote from French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, regarding the French riots. First, to recap the damage caused from the French riots:

Unrest has continued among mainly Arab and African communities on rundown housing estates for 17 nights since the accidental deaths of two teenagers on 27 October, who were reportedly trying to hide from police.

About 8,400 vehicles have been burnt nationwide along with dozens of public buildings including schools and gyms, according to a tally released by the French state news agency AFP on Sunday.

Dozens of people including residents, police and firefighters have been injured, while one firefighter received serious facial injuries from a petrol bomb and a disabled woman suffered serious burns when a bus was set alight.

The death of a 61-year-old man in a street assault has been connected by some to the riots.

Police have arrested 2,652 people, the youngest of them aged 10, and 592 were remanded in custody.

Now, De Villepin’s comments in context (emphasis added):

Amanpour: You know, many people, after hurricane Katrina struck the United States said, that it exposed the poverty and racism that exist in the United States. Many people in France said that … around the world said it. Many people also said that the riots in the ghettos if you like… in the suburbs …

De Villepin: I am not sure you can call them riots. It’s very different from the situation you have known in 1992 in L.A. for example. You had at that time 54 people that died, and you had 2,000 people wounded. In France during the 2 weeks period of unrest, nobody died in France. So, I think you can’t compare this social unrest with any kind of riots.

Amanpour: What do you call it then?

De Villepin: Social unrest, you have to understand also, there were no guns in the streets. No adults; mostly young people between 12 and 20 … so it is very special movement.

Totally clueless. So now we’re softening up the wording in order to describe rioters as partakers in “social unrest”? What a joke. Redefining and recharacterizing things as De Villepin did with what was obviously mass rioting is part of what I call the slow erosion of the definition of right and wrong. By redefining and recharacterizing things like, for example, rioting, to make it sound like if it was just a typical mundane example of social unrest, De Villepin is effectively diluting the meaning of ‘social unrest’ by his very denial that this was rioting. ‘Social unrest’ can mean many things. For example, there was social unrest in San Francisco around the time that Mayor Gavin Newsom decided to invent a law that allowed gay marriage. But you didn’t see any rioting out of it.

Social unrest can include rioting and sometimes it doesn’t. And when we’re talking about the massive amounts of damage done in France – not just to property but people as well, characterizing it as merely ‘social unrest’ just doesn’t cut it. It’s just a way for De Villepin to excuse the idiots who couldn’t control their desire to rip apart a beautiful country (which it is, even though I have big issues with their government) because of their displeasure with French policy towards Muslims and it’s also a slick attempt at downplaying what happened because he wants people to forget how lamely the French gov’t responded to this ‘social unrest’ – by making it sound like it was not that big of a deal to begin with. It was just “social unrest” and a “special movement.”

We know better.

Read more comments about this at Atlas Shrugs’ blog.

(Cross-posted at California Conservative)

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