The promo for Sunday night's edition of 60 Minutes features Peter Overton standing before a burning car saying, "I never thought I'd see something like this in Paris."
Two thoughts spring to mind. First, this is fucking Paris we're talking about. Paris, home of the mob, winner of the most-barricaded-European-city award 1789-1968, a place so fond of revolt that they had to redesign half of it to allow artillery ease of movement. Yeah, you'd never expect to see fires and riots in Paris!
Second, anybody who has been to Paris and brought their eyes with them would know that the City of Light is not all snogging honeymooners and snooty waiters. There are some serious class divisions present, and they're easy to spot because they are conveniently colour-coded for easy reference. Simply, if a given person is of Arabic, Eastern European or African descent, chances are they're cleaning toilets, begging for change, or engaged in petty crime. Sure, there are poor white people, too. But the majority of menial workers and derelicts are, going by empirical evidence, first or second-generation immigrants with little in the way of hopes or prospects.
The 60 Minutes promo cynically ties the French riots to terrorism. Over scenes of scrapping gendarmes, an announcer with a triple-broken voice asserts, "This is why we need to crack down on Muslim extremists." Another lesson we might draw from the French experience is that excluding "foreign types" from mainstream politics and society, creating economic ghettoes, and generally behaving in a heavy-handed "do as we say" manner is a fast track to civil unrest. Create an "us and them" environment, and you may suddenly find that "they" have a lot more supporters than they might otherwise have had.