France Is Always Burning

If you’ve been getting Prius-like mileage out of your burning car jokes lately, it’s time to consider the possibility that people aren’t laughing with you, but at you (I’ve heard this even happens to bloggers sometimes).

Yes, putting fire on your neighbor’s Renault 4 was a national sport in France long before Sarkozy went and called anyone hurtful names:

National police said Tuesday that 8,810 vehicles–cars, buses, trucks–had been set afire since the October 27 start of the urban unrest that began in a northeast Paris suburb and spread to poor suburbs and towns around France.

About 30,000 cars are burned each year in France. This year, between January and the end of October, 30,000 cars had been set alight, National Police Chief Michel Gaudin said in an interview published Tuesday in the daily Le Monde.

OK, so the rate is up from the usual high two figures a day, but if that means “France is burning” then it was at least oxidizing rapidly before.

Here in the states, if some smelly hippy torches a lot full of SUVs there’s going to be helicopters and probably a news alert on Fox.  There, well, they’ll send somebody around in a little while.

Also, it isn’t all anarchy the way it looks in the pictures.  There are rules.  For instance, if you’re a cop, you look both ways then up for shopping carts pushed off the roof before you cross the street.  Even young fast hooligans forget the rules at their peril:

Most cars burned in the low-income suburbs are older and losing value. BMWs, Mercedes and other high-end vehicles, owned by local drug traffickers, "are never touched," Ribeiro said.


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