On Sundays, Gothamist runs opinion pieces on issues relevant to life in New York. The views expressed below are solely those of the author.
There are many people in America—and particularly New York—who view Europe as some sort of cultural ideal, enlightened superiors to which can only aspire. No doubt this is often motivated by those figures who, quite simply, hate America and uniquely American principles.
The recent events in France illustrate where this mentality leads when put into practice. It is remarkable just how eloquent savages can prove to be.
To illustrate the dearth of thought in French circles, one need only look at the two major responses to the riots. The first, from the Left, is to give 20,000 more jobs and subsidies to the rioters. What they are saying, and will probably implement, is that when someone sets cars on fires and burns down neighborhood, the correct response is to hire them and give them money. Now if you contracted people to go out and commit arson on a nation-wide scale, you would be regarded as a monster of historic proportions. I don’t know why it is allegedly different when the payment is made after the deed is committed, or what makes it acceptable because it is the government making the payment.
The only alternative being offered is that old pal of the European Right, anti-immigrationism and racism. Virtually every single person in New York City is a member of some out-group that was (and is, somewhere) viewed as subhuman animals. Personally, I am an Eastern European Jew; one hundred years ago we were the terrorists who were leading the fanatical attacks on freedom. The Italians, the Irish, the Chinese: all were at some point spoken of as some sort of boogeyman that is about to ruin civilization. Look at the Germans, and the Japanese, and the Russians. If degenerate savagery were a function of race, these countries would still be our enemies today. But all of these ethnicities are integrated into American society, and there is no reason to view the Arabs as somehow different.
What the alternative is to the European choices is freedom. Though everyone in Washington speaks of freedom, no one seems to define what they mean by that word. The Democrats by freedom mean socialized medicine public education, and welfare. The George Bush types equate freedom with patriotism. Now you may claim that these are all wonderful things—I don’t—but they aren’t what freedom means.
Freedom means the right to pursue one’s own course and to keep the products of one’s labor, nothing more and nothing less. It means that when you find a job you keep what you have earned, and what you received you have earned. Your role is yours not because the government has given it to you to placate your riot; your position is yours not simply because you’re natural born.
It is because New York is such a cold-blooded place that a rabbi can sit on the subway next to a woman in a burkha and no one thinks anything of it. But this is something almost without historical precedent. Riots start when people care about each other, and meddle, and construct huge social edifices to manage lives, costing jobs and, more importantly, destroying self-respect.
Though France fights a society where people get what they deserve, somehow it works out that way all the same.
"Ego & Hubris: The Michael Malice Story" will be published by Ballantine in March. He will apear at The Rejection Show on November 15th.