Not that I'm biased, but if you're looking for a pleasant vacation in Europe, you can't do better than Ireland. The food's improved, thanks to EU membership, the scenery is lovely, and the craic's going ninety. And, best of all, you can take a train without fear of being caught up in a riot.
Unlike Paris, France, where a full scale battle was raging at the Gare du Nord on Tuesday afternoon. An illegal Congolese immigrant, already wanted by the gendarmerie, tried to jump on a train without paying his fare. After the man reportedly tried to head-butt the ticket inspector who nabbed him, he was dragged off to the station's police office and a crowd of irate teens went ballistic. Oh, yes, well, no one wants to say it, but most of the rioting teens were Arabs of African or North African descent. Shouted a great deal of abuse about Nicolas Sarkozy, the man who would clamp down on Arabs in France.
The rioters broke into shops in the underground mall, looting and smashing windows and having a grand time of it. Disrupted commuter traffic, terrorized the commuters, and gave a group of foreign tourists the fright of their lives. A man who tried not to have his mobile phone stolen from his hands was beaten up by a gang of rioters, and he's not at all pleased that the riot police stood by and did not come to his aid. I wonder if he was wearing a 'Segolene Royal for president' campaign button at the time?
The whole illegal immigrant issue has exploded in French politics, with far right wing (relatively speaking, as this is socialist Europe we're talking about) political candidates screaming about the lack of control over who comes in and who gets kicked out. Segolene Royal, like her Socialist ilk, started out with a demand that all illegals with children in French schools get a free pass and be allowed to stay. Like so many other of her pronouncements, that one caused quite a stir and she has had to backtrack, taking a stand on a case by case basis for legalizing status.
So, as the fires burned in the streets near the Gare du Nord (the rioters had to do something to kill time once they were driven out of the train station), the people of France were asking what sort of country they had become, for such unbridled violence to erupt over the arrest of a wanted criminal. And they can't blame America for this one.