2,210 words / 18:01
The French Mistake
I’m only going to focus on one story this week because it seems compelling and significant enough to drown out everything else that happened. Since it bears the ominous potential to metastasize into something even more far-reaching, it may become the story of the year. Or decade. Or century.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess that I bear some poisonous anti-French confirmation bias. I was raised with the impression that I am of partially French ancestry (my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Ila Ducharme), and early results from 23andme said that my saliva sample revealed DNA that was about 5-6% French and German in origin. (For some reason, they don’t distinguish between French and German, just like they can’t seem to tell the difference between English and Irish.) But more recent results based on the same little glass vial of spit I sent them have eliminated the French/German in favor of Spanish/Portuguese. If it turns out that I’m not French, not even un peu, I’m okay with that, and here’s why.
In September 1969, my oldest brother was murdered in Paris on the night of his arrival. His killer was never found, but the unreasonable reason that I bear an incurable animosity toward the French is that they extorted the modern equivalent of $12,500 from our family to send us his corpse back in lieu of simply dumping it like garbage somewhere in France. Although they shipped his cadaver back along with several documents allegedly certifying that he’d been autopsied and embalmed, he arrived at the Philadelphia International Airport in a wooden box containing the bloodied suit in which he’d been stabbed to death. His corpse was in an active state of decomposition.
I was only eight when that happened, and I’ve been fortunate enough to live much longer than my brother did, but one of the bitterest yet most enduring lessons I’ve learned during my time on this planet is that it’s almost always a mistake to apologize. Since I think that people are animals rather than “spiritual” beings, they tend to view apologies as acts of submission, which leads them to smell weakness and thirst for your blood.
Speaking of submission, the Arabic word “Islam” literally means “submission.” In theological terms, it refers to the act of submission toward God, but since I’ve never seen any hard evidence of Allah’s existence, in practical terms it seems to refer to the act of submission toward Muslims.
Since I believe that it’s always a mistake to apologize, I think that the biggest mistake the French ever made was the huge post-colonial blunder of not only apologizing to their former Northern African vassal states such as Morocco and Algeria, but inviting the overwhelmingly Islamic residents of these sunburnt shitholes into France while naïvely expecting that all would be forgiven and everyone would get along.
For starters, it’s not as if France and the Islamic world don’t have grudges going all the way back to the 700s, when Charles “The Hammer” Martel beat back Muslim forces in the Battle of Tours and Charlemagne clashed endlessly with the Moors who’d conquered Spain. It’s not as if African Barbary pirates didn’t raid the French coast and enslave countless French men, women, and children for about 250 years starting in the 1500s.
In the post-colonial era, aggravated and enabled by France’s 1968 Marxist student riots, vengeful Muslims have raised holy hell in the 2005 riots and 2009 riots, both of which were conflagrations that rocked the nation in the wake of non-indigenous Muslim yoofs who died either while fleeing police or in police custody.
Then there was 2015’s Charlie Hebdo shooting. And the same year’s Bataclan massacre. And the 2020 beheading of a schoolteacher who’d been either intrepid or foolish enough (pick one) to show his students the cartoons that sparked the Charlie Hebdo slaughter.
The French Mistake was to think that any multicolored society could ever be colorblind.
If “Nahel Merzouk” doesn’t sound like a French name, that’s because it isn’t. Although he was born in France in 2006, he was Algerian by blood. He was raised by a single mother whose mating partner allegedly fled the coop before young Nahel was born. A pizza delivery boy who’d dropped out of school, Nahel was said to have been a fan of motorcycles, rugby, and rap music. Although a wee sapling of only 17, he had notched an impressive 15 incidents on his judicial file, including driving without insurance and using false license plates. In January and March of this year, he’d been arrested for the sale and consumption of narcotics. He’d tallied up five police checks for refusing to comply with police orders to stop since 2021. On the weekend before his last — and fatal — encounter with police, he’d reportedly been detained for another instance of refusing to comply with a police order to stop.
It’s unclear whether he’d ever been officially charged with driving without a license. But since one needs to be 18 in France to legally drive a car, during all of the other traffic-related infractions he’d also repeatedly committed the crime of driving without a license. In essence, he was committing a crime every time he drove a car.
As a man who at least likes to pretend to have an open mind, I’ll allow for the possibility that of all the high-profile police killings of civilians that led to endlessly slanted publicity and violent mayhem far out of proportion to whatever happened in the initial incident, at least one of them involved a victim who was wise enough not to resist arrest. I can’t think of one, but I’ll allow the possibility that someone, somewhere was killed by police without resisting arrest.
I’ve had guns pulled on me twice — once when a black dude near a Greyhound station in Center City Philadelphia shoved a snub-nosed revolver in my gut and demanded all my money, and the other when a Portland cop snuck up and held a pistol to my temple as I was sitting in a rental car. Although I am sometimes impetuous and flighty, on neither of these occasions did I think it was a wise idea to struggle or flee.
According to the public prosecutor in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre, last Tuesday morning a pair of motorcycle cops espied a Mercedes-Benz with a Polish license plate traveling over the speed limit in a bus lane. The pair of cops instructed the car’s driver to stop at a red light. Rather than complying, he ran the red light. At some point during the pursuit, police say the driver endangered a cyclist and a pedestrian. When a traffic snag eventually forced the driver to stop, the police got off of their motorcycles, pointed guns at the driver, and commanded him to turn off his engine.
Nahel Merzouk was the car’s driver. He also had two passengers along for the ride. According to one of the passengers, one of the cops told Merzouk, “Don’t move or I’ll put a bullet in your head.”
An observer filmed the incident from what appears to be an apartment window at least 30 feet from the car. The film’s perspective is from the passenger’s side, so the car is largely blocking one’s view of the police. One of the cops is clearly pointing a gun into the car. What can be seen is that the car pulls away from the cops. What can be heard is a gunshot and then a honking sound, which is allegedly what happened when Merzouk fell forward onto the car’s horn after being shot.
According to the unnamed gendarme who shot Merzouk, he did it in self-defense, fearing that that young Algerian pizza-delivery boy was going to run him over. From what I can discern after viewing the video, this was a lie. Since he was standing near the driver’s window when the car lurched forward, he was in no danger of being run over. He has been arrested and is facing preliminary charges of “voluntary homicide by a person in authority.”
According to an unnamed passenger in the car, Merzouk had been repeatedly bludgeoned in the head by one or both of the policemen’s guns before pulling away in fear. This, too, appears to be a lie based on what I can see from the video.
There are a lot of liars out there. You learn that quickly when you have to sift between fact and fiction in criminal cases. I suppose that’s the reason we have trials in the first place, because if accusers never lied, there’d be no reason for trials.
Compounding the fact that everyone seems to lie is the fact that regardless of the truth, people seem to believe whatever they want to believe. I suppose that’s the reason why, as of this writing, France has been burning for six days.
Nahel’s mother, Mounia Merzouk, told a local TV station that the officer who shot her son “saw a little Arab-looking kid, and he wanted to take his life.” On TikTok, which is possibly the dumbest of all the dumb social-media sites, she openly called for “a revolt for my son.” And boy, what a revolt she got. A truly revolting revolt.
Leaping to judgment without the slightest apparent regard for truth or responsibility, French President Emmanuel Macron called the shooting “inexcusable and unforgivable.” He said the death of the little underage lawbreaker “moved the entire nation.” On Wednesday night, while the nation was burning, Macron was fiddling away at an Elton John concert. He eventually blamed social media for helping to fan the flames, claiming that violent footage “sparks a form of copycat violence,” opining that “[w]e sometimes get the feeling that some of them live out in the street the video games that have intoxicated them,” and demanding that social-media providers remove the “most sensitive” content.
To their credit, the French police are not taking Macron’s “lay down and let them pee on me” approach. On Friday, Alliance Police Nationale and the Union Nationale des Syndicats Autonomes (UNSA), two of France’s largest police unions that, combined, represent roughly half of all French police, issued a very spicily worded joint statement:
Facing these savage hordes, asking for calm is no longer enough, IT MUST BE IMPOSED!
Restoring the Republican order and putting the apprehended beyond the capacity to harm others must be the only political signal to give.
In the face of such exactions, the police family must stand together.
Our colleagues, like the majority of citizens, can no longer bear the tyranny of these violent minorities.
The time is not for union action, but for combat against these ‘pests’.
Surrendering, capitulating, and pleasing them by laying down arms are not the solutions in light of the gravity of the situation.
All means must be put in place to restore the rule of law as quickly as possible.
Once restored, we already know that we will relive this mess that we have been enduring for decades.
For these reasons, Alliance Police Nationale and UNSA Police will take their responsibilities and warn the government from now on that at the end, we will be in action and without concrete measures for the legal protection of the Police, an appropriate penal response, significant means provided, the police will judge the extent of the consideration given.
Today the police are in combat because we are at war. Tomorrow we will be in resistance and the government will have to become aware of it.
Last night, a milestone was reached in horror and ignominy. My home was attacked and my family was the victim of an assassination attempt. My determination to protect and serve the Republic is greater than ever. I will not back down. #PasPourRien #Emeutes
I was able to snag some riot footage from Twitter on Saturday and compile it into this 18-minute video. Since we’re talking about the Internet here, and I’m a one-man news bureau, I cannot and will not vouch for any of its authenticity, but it seems as if a general picture emerges of a nation on the edge of losing its grip:
You can see rioters sawing down light poles. Burning down schools, buses, police stations, and town halls. Looting stores. Shooting at police. Openly toting assault rifles in a country that does not permit citizens to own them.
This does not appear to be your normal riot. Riots are more haphazard. This looks more like a war with organized, gun-toting jihadists clad in black and ready to wreak vengeance against an ancient enemy — on enemy soil. Why, it’s almost as if they were waiting for this to happen.
The following days and weeks will determine whether it explodes into a full-blown French Civil War . . . and whether it spreads into a continental war between a softened West and a radical global Islamic ummah that the West was foolish enough, in the name of tolerance, to invite as their ungrateful houseguests.
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