Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:

The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, on calling the war in Iraq a failure:

Two thousand Americans dead, countless dead Arabs. The war is far away, the casualty count is an abstraction.

We don’t want to see the pictures of the dead and wounded. The pictures make it real, make it personal, make it hurtful. Mostly kids in their 20s — they had not yet begun to live, and now they are dead.

Where is their memorial? Our national ritual calls for our elected leaders to call them heroes and venerate their “ultimate sacrifice.” And we will collude in this exercise of national justification, as we always have, in the name of patriotism and honoring the courage of the dead, and in a well-meant desire to shield their survivors the pain of considering that their loved one’s sacrifice could have been avoided. With the ritual completed, we will accept the death of our young as the costs of furthering our current policies and give little or no thought to the matter again until the next war.

Let us honor our dead for their sacrifice in a just cause; overthrowing a ruthless dictator and freeing an oppressed people. Let us also, however, acknowledge our responsibility for their deaths in as much as we failed to elect leaders who could promote both peace and justice.

If we must wage war, let us do so quickly and decisively, and let us acknowledge, first and foremost, that war is not a demonstration of strength, but a failure of vision.

The Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle, on French riots:

The rioting that has been rocking the poor suburbs of Paris and towns across France for nearly two weeks is all too familiar. Remember Cincinnati a few years ago? Los Angeles and Rodney King in 1991? Rochester 41 years ago?

Once again the young among the poor and disenfranchised are revolting. This time it’s youths among France’s large Arab-Muslim minority. Twelve straight nights of violence, which so far has resulted in at least one death, the torching of 5,000 cars and arrests of more than 1,000 people, were sparked by the deaths of two youths who were accidentally electrocuted late last month.

As the pattern of race rioting in this country has shown, a level of frustration seemed to have been reached among those who felt alienated. Muslims who immigrated to Europe amid the post World War II economic boom to take low-paying jobs were never integrated into the staunchly secular French society. Consequently, a polarized environment has emerged in which Muslims identify themselves with their Islamic religion rather than French citizens.

As the violence intensifies among disaffected youths complaining of joblessness and discrimination, Muslim leaders have been calling for an end to the rampaging.

Meanwhile, Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, described the situation as escalating into what could be the “start of a civil war.”

President Jacques Chirac finally intervened for the first time Sunday night by calling an inner cabinet meeting and declaring the reestablishment of security and public order the “absolute priority.”

It looks as if Chirac’s slow response to the rioting may well be an indication of his government’s lack of attention to the alienating of Muslim youths from mainstream society. Like we said, this seems all too familiar.

The Dallas Morning News, on the France riots:

When some members of the black urban underclass began looting in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, many French commentators sniffed that America was reaping its reward for failing to deal with chronic poverty. Well.

It might be tempting to view the destruction wrought across France by thuggish young men nearly all ethnic minorities, many from Arab and African immigrant background, as comeuppance. That would be wrong. France’s agony is not only pitiable on its face, but also a profound threat to American interests.

The roots of this uprising defy simple explanation, but basically involve the country’s inability to assimilate those with non-European backgrounds. The unemployment rate in immigrant ghettos is astronomical. French racism demeans black and brown citizens and restrains their social mobility. And the highly regulated welfare-state economy protects the haves largely at the expense of the have-nots’ aspirations to the middle class.

But economics alone cannot account for the anarchy. A sense of cultural separatism and anti-Western antagonism has been building among the large Islamic populations of European cities. Unlike the failed multicultural approach taken by Holland, France insisted that all citizens submit to secularist republican values. The French melting pot is now boiling over, and though the rioters are not apparently religious, many articulate their rage in the language of radical Islam.

The violence must end or be ended by force. Still, the conditions that led to it will remain and so will extremists on all sides, eager to take advantage of fear and loathing.

Failure to integrate millions of immigrants in various European countries has created a general social and political crisis with grave economic and security implications for the U.S. France, and all of Europe, did not arrive at this dramatic point overnight and will not solve the crisis quickly or easily.

Yet there can be no doubt that the status quo political, economic and social is no longer tolerable. The French system must reform, or history shows that it will be reformed either by the force of rioters or the force of authoritarian government, both an affront to liberal democracy.

The Repository, Canton, Ohio, on government cuts:

Curb your enthusiasm, ladies and gentlemen of the U.S. Senate. The budget bill you passed this week may be a sign of good intentions, but it is not an achievement.

The Senate voted to carve $36 billion in spending over five years on Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies and other benefit programs. Though they were the first such cuts since 1997, they amount to a pittance, a mere 2 percent of the expected $1.6 trillion in budget deficits over that time.

With the nation cutting taxes and fighting a war at the same time, these small cuts will give senators something to talk about in next year’s election but will have little effect on the horrible mess Washington has made of the government’s balance sheet.


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