Tuesday, September 19, 2006

From Budapest to Paris

Now, there's something you don't see everyday:
right wing protesters being blasted
by water canon and bludgeoned by police.


It is certainly difficult not to notice the stark contrast between western media coverage of the rioting in Budapest and the coverage and commentary that surrounded and assailed the rioting in France last fall. In the US, the contrast is most notable for an astounding lack of coverage of what has been described as Hungary's "worst violence since the fall of communism." If the rioting by right wing opponents of Gyurcsany's government is mentioned at all, such mentions find themselves buried somewhere in the back pages.

Contrast this with the coverage of the French riots of November 2005. Media coverage was impossible to ignore. In part, this was due to the extended nature, temporally and spatially, of the French rioting. But one salient feature of news coverage was the unfailing ability to label the rioters as Muslim. Right wing commentators, of course, trumpeted the ethnicity of the rioting hordes as proof that Muslims were simply incapable of assimilation into western, and by implication, "civilized" society. Naturally, anyone bothering to point out other factors such as the obvious second class status of Muslim immigrants in France, police abuse and brutality, high unemployment and de facto segregation experienced by these mostly African immigrants was labelled an appeaser of Islamist violence.

Curiously, no one is bothering to tarnish the white, right wing rioters in Budapest with the same broad brush that was enthusiastically used to paste French Muslims. Nothing like "those crazy right wingers are going nuts! surely their ideology must be violent" is emanating from anyone. Because it is obvious what is causing the unrest and the media are sure to make that known; easy to do in this case, which is why the media can report it. The cause of the rioting is easily conveyed in a sentence. Government lies would -- should -- drive anyone nuts. Everyone can see that. (Except here, of course. Anyone in the US who demonstrates against this country's lying government is simply a "moonbat.")

But the actual rioting seen in Hungary is remarkable for the similarity of its physical manifestions to the rioting seen in France. Burning cars, water canon, shielded riot cops, etc. And it is probably more remarkable to those who had been swamped by tales that French Muslim youths exhibited a penchant for car burning, as though this was particular to the extremes of Muslim rioting. As you can see, it is not. In fact, rioting Hungarians appear to share a similar zest for automotive conflagration as any of their disaffected European brethren.

There was one difference seen in the Hungarian rioting, though, and it was that the rioters tried to seize a state-owned television station to broadcast demands for Gyurcsany's resignation. Now, that's something that apparently did not occur to rioting Muslims in France. And it should have. Because while the western media are more than happy to broadcast every idiotic video pronouncement produced by al Qaeda, the one thing most French citizens were comfortably unaware of is how their government treated those Muslims it had once invited to live and work in France.

I mentioned earlier that the media portrayal of the two riot populations in France and Hungary was "curious." Actually, it is not curious at all. More and more these days, we see a western media, especially the American version of it, fully invested in furthering the large narrative of our time: Muslims are violent by nature and ideology, western, i.e. white, people are not. At least, not without a very good reason. This narrative, which blithely ignores the warring conducted by western society in recent years and especially needs to ignore the illegal invasion of Iraq and the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis, is essential to our own myth that we are civilised and "they" are not. We seem more than content to be fed this fudge, with every deliberately provacative cartoon and ill-advised papal speech that incites anger used to further the storyline. And when violent nature surfaces in traditional European populations, as it did in Hungary, the media -- at least those that even bother with it -- are sure to stipulate the reason or reasons, which might help explain the outburst, while they blithely ignore real grievances of disaffected minorites and pawn off the inevitable violent reactions as though they are the result of some ideological madness.

3 Comments:

Blogger Marshall Art said...

Sent here by a link from another wacky leftist. The difference, thought not an endorsement or excuse, is that the Hungarians are rioting against a leader who has admitted screwing them. The Muslims have proven that they will riot at the drop of a hat. Those in France have NOT assimilated and despite the problems with finding work and such, their actions are still reprehensible and typical of their lot. Not so with westerners in general, though the potential for rioting exists for any group. As to the reporting of the Hungarian riots, they don't represent anything more than internal strife in that country as opposed to the rioting of Muslims everywhere in the world for supposed slights against their religion of peace. I hope that clarifies things for ya.

4:33 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

You are apparently unaware of the horrific repression and abuse that has been suffered by Muslims at the behest of the French government. Not surprising for someone who buys the trope that when Muslims riot, it can't for any reason other than religious-based ideology. Are you the slightest bit aware of western oppression of the Middle East and our constant and continual oppression of those populations? the twarting of their democratic institutions? We overthrew a duly elected president in Iran. We have been screwing Muslims in the Middle East for decades and you claim that any response to this is "reprehensible"? Go read something.

1:55 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...

I just reread your comment and, upon the second reading, I see a level cluelessness even more profound than I first realized.

Firstly, you claim thatm "Hungarians are rioting against a leader who has admitted screwing them," which implies that the French Muslims have not been getting screwed by French government. Wrong. The trigger for the French riots was police action, police action that has been beating and brutalising Muslims in outlying slums for years.

You further say that Muslims in France "have NOT assimiliated." Well, duh. They can't. By law. They have never been allowed to become French citizens even when the French invited North Africans to help rebuild France after WWII. Even Charles Krauthammer recognised that the second-class status of Muslims in France had to be remedied.

Segregated by law, made second class non-citizens and suffering high unemployment and routine police brutality, you find that rioting was "reprehensible" because you think that French Muslims were not being screwed by the government.

I'm guessing you think that the LA riots were provoked by the "drop of a hat" (hey, what's one little ol' roadside cop beating?) and purely the result of people who hadn't assimiliated.

I'd say my point about the media coverage is made. And you are exhibit A.

10:41 AM  

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