What do people think about the rioting and destruction in France? It’s hard to say because beyond some “good pictures” of torched cars and firemen and police trying to deal with an out-of-control situation, we aren’t getting the whole – much less the real – story.

For the third continuous week, a good part of France is in flames and wilding mobs in the streets have wreaked havoc on business areas and neighborhoods. The whole country is the victim of wanton violence and destruction.

From a news-coverage point of view, what do we get? Not much – not much accuracy and no depth. It can be blamed on ill-informed producers, editors and reporters and a politically correct bias in coverage decisions.

When the rioting began, it was barely covered. In some cases, local newspapers, notably the liberal ones, the story was first ignored or buried deep in the papers. Then, it hit the front page and, just as quickly, was buried again. How much coverage has there been of similar arsons and demonstrations in Germany, Belgium and Denmark?

News outlets love easy stories, especially natural disasters. A tsunami headlined for weeks. So does hurricane damage in New Orleans and anywhere else. And of course, earthquakes, volcano and floods are good for miles of newsprint and hours of air-time.

It has it all: good pictures, good sound, injured and dying people, survivor stories and property destruction

Just point the camera and talk. Sometimes, don’t talk. The pictures tell the story. They’re dream-come-true stories and can be a career boost for reporters. Dan Rather’s hurricane coverage shot him from local to network news – now, we have the green Anderson Cooper vaulting from being drenched by hurricane winds to top anchor guy.

The media are simply documenting the cause and effect of the power of nature.

The ultimate conclusion is that we’re all potential victims when nature lets loose. People love to see others suffer and think “thank God it’s not me.”

That reaction on the part of audiences is the same in coverage of real news events. Coverage of war engenders the same reaction – “better them than me.” It’s the same with insurrections, government corruption and starvation. As long as it’s somewhere else, we feel OK.

In this case, that might be a mistake. What’s happening in France could happen here, given the nature of terrorism. The media are doing a grave disservice by not presenting the story with facts and perspective.

As the French mobs moved through the streets, nothing was safe: Schools, hospitals, gymnasiums, homes, cars, trucks, buses, businesses, warehouses, churches, synagogues – even people.

A woman in a wheelchair was doused with fluid and set afire. A man trying to protect his car from being destroyed was beaten to death. Firemen and medical personnel were attacked and police were forbidden to fight back.

There may never be a “final” estimate of the damage caused – because this kind of insurrection may never really end – but preliminary estimates put it at over $235 million dollars. Reports are that more than 6,500 automobiles have been destroyed. For a country with severe employment and financial troubles, dealing with property damage alone will present enormous troubles for the government of President Jacques Chirac.

It didn’t help that for more than 10 days after the violence erupted – supposedly a reaction to the accidental electrocution of two Muslim teenagers who were running from police and hid in an electric transformer shed, not the smartest thing they ever did, but certainly the last – Chirac was neither seen nor heard.

His country was in flames, mobs in the street, people petrified by the violence, police ordered not to shoot – and the president was invisible.

When he finally did appear, it was more to lament the events and say that France must do more to solve the problems of these people.

What people?

Apparently, that means everyone in France who’s poor, unemployed, uneducated, illiterate and of foreign extraction, legally or illegally in the country, with language problems.

Unfortunately for France, that’s a lot of people, the result of the policy of encouraging immigration to provide low-paying jobs and assuming that those same people will magically become French and accepting of the culture and customs of the country.

Also, the socialist bent of the country had meant that those same people are unable to work themselves into the middle class. They come to expect the government to provide for them. The other half of the equation is that those same people too often don’t want to assimilate into the culture.

The mother of an arrested 21-year-old rioter is an Algerian immigrant. She and her husband have been in France 25 years, are both illiterate and don’t speak French. Her son failed high school, dropped out and is unemployed after having a job for 8 months. The mother says life there is difficult and “they don’t give work to the young.”

Aside from not assimilating, this woman has learned the socialist mantra: The government must give out jobs.

One aspect about the perpetrators, which the French dare not mention – they are multicultural and diverse, after all – is that the bulk, if not all of the rioters and arsonists, are Muslim.

Uh, oh. Can’t say that.

There are an estimated 10 million Muslims in Europe – some 6 million are in France. These are generally people who maintain their culture, dress, religion, schools and language. Because of their separatism, they live in enclaves, whole sections of cities that are theirs – in some cases, areas that are so dangerous that police fear to enter. These are people who do not assimilate and do not become French even though they have French citizenship. Their anger has been fanned into flames by preaching of jihad in militant mosques.

There’s no visible rhyme or reason (despite the electrocution) for the intensity of the violence. But the nature of the destruction and its rapid spread – at one time, simultaneously affecting more than 300 cities and towns – it’s clear it hasn’t been spontaneous.

Police have found organized bomb-making supplies. They know the Internet, e-mails and cell phones are being used to coordinate activities with plans to spread violence into Paris.

It’s perverse to see how traditional media have twisted themselves into pretzels to avoid either reporting the story at all, or reporting it but burying it, or playing down the magnitude of the story, or focusing on the ramifications. They deliberately avoid using the word “Muslim.”

Americans are being deliberately kept in the dark about the import of these riots and what they could mean – not just for this country, but for the rest of the Western world. If political correctness could kill, this might just be the perfect example.

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