Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The prism

As France continues to burn, commentators take turns explaining why the riots are taking place. What's amazing is that every single commenter has explained the events through their own prism, using this is an opportunity to vindicate their worldview.

For example, liberals have posited that the riots are due to racism, poor economic conditions, and neglect. Conservatives, on the other hand, have pinned the blame on dirigisme, muliticultarism, and Islamic fascism.

And then there's Andrew Stuttaford, National Review's resident libertarian. He's ardently opposed to all drug laws, so he partially blames the riots on, what else, the drug trade:
As we all know, there are a good number of causes contributing to the current disturbances in France, but one of them, reportedly, is an attempt by drug dealers in some of these suburbs to protect their turf from 'intrusive' policing. While, of course, intrusive policing is exactly what these places need, it's worth noting that those dealers have been given their business opportunity by drugs prohibition.

France in flames - yet another 'achievement' for the drug warriors to add to their dismal, destructive and wicked record.

It seems as though that every commentator - or most of them - have simply read into the riots their preconceived idealogical grievances. Of course, that is entirely to be expected. Whether we admit it or not, we all carry our ideology into whatever issue is on the table. We are not blank slates. In a way this touches upon mouldfan's previous post. As he writes:
no matter how hard one tries to separate themselves from their task they can never escape some personal involvement that impacts the way they think. In other words, there can never be true “fidelity to the law” or total objectivity in deciding cases, because judges are human, and as humans they are prone to react in certain ways to certain cases. Justice Burton could no more separate himself from his personality as a “social specialist” any more than say an optimist could stop seeing the glass half full. The acceptance of the humanity of judges is something that I think Justice Cardozo was attempting to describe in his theory of legal realism.
I know that he is talking about judges, but I think we can carry that principle over into all aspects of life.

And that is not to say this is illegitimate. One can be an open-minded idealogue. Or, better yet, it's not impossible to hold certain core beliefs and yet still try to - as best one can - objectively analyze current events. But it has truck me more forcefully with this event how far people can take things.

I would go so far as to say that all of the rationale given have some real explanatory power. There is an awful congruence of policies and events that have led to this moment, so maybe conservatives and liberals are both right - or at least partially right - in their explanations. But I do think this moment shows how important ideology is in framing our view on matters.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?