The recent outbreaks of violence in Muslim neighborhoods north of Paris prompts the question, why aren’t these and other social problems in Europe more widely reported in the U.S. media? I came across a smallish AP wire report on the torching of buses in Le Blanc-Mensil by youths, in commemoration of the 2005 riots in the same area, buried in the middle section of The Detroit Free Press. Over the past few weeks youths have set flames to more than a half-dozen buses according to the report. Hostility toward anyone in a government uniform—policemen, firefighters, utility workers–in these neighborhoods is rampant and unrestrained. Bus drivers say they are spat upon and threatened and never try to enforce rules, such as paying a fare. And this has been going on, not for weeks, but for years, with nary a mention in our far-flung press, doggedly filing on every car-bombing and power-outage in Iraq.
The reason can be traced, of course, to a large-scale indifference (with few exceptions) of the American media to the dysfunctions of European society; especially those of “old” Europe, where “free” health care and SUV-free motorways are seen to be vestiges of an enlightened culture always moving in the direction of institutionalized utopia. You will search long and hard and most likely in futility for coverage of long waiting lists for medical tests considered routine in the U.S., high unemployment, despair and dearth of opportunity inflicted by a half-century of welfare-state policies, the debilitating effects of crushing taxes on living standards, etc. Open up any edition of the New York Times or Washington Post, however, and you will find the United States portrayed in various journalistic shades as an unrequited hellhole of violence, ignorance and corruption.
Meanwhile, the socio-economic circumstances of Muslims in the United States couldn’t be in starker contrast to Muslims in France, or for that matter many Muslims in their native countries. Muslims living in America own and operate a wide variety of retail stores and businesses. Americans of Arab descent with engineering and other technical skills are highly recruited by firms and government agencies—in Detroit, for instance, Americans with Arab surnames are pronounced in managerial positions in the water, public works and other departments. Muslims are integrated into the fabric of American life. Try finding a story on that in the big print media.
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