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What Went Wrong in France

How the 1968 uprising helped lead to recent riots.

New Republic, Nov. 28 and Dec. 5 An article blames the riots in France on the nation’s inability to successfully integrate immigrants; up until the 1960s, France was quite successful at it. But the 1968 student rebellion harmed learning institutions, which had been the country’s main instruments of indoctrination into French society. With their authority neutered, educators no longer went about turning out paragons of French civilization with the same zeal. Another variable was the benign neglect French officials showed the Arab, Berber, and black Africans who came to France in the ‘60s to supply cheap labor. Once it became clear that these “guest workers” were not returning home, “the state shunted them into bleak suburban housing projects, effectively segregating them.” The author calls on officials to “offer the youths of the suburbs a meaningful form of integration into broader society,” a plan perhaps modeled on American affirmative action.—Z.K.

New York Times Book Review, Nov. 20
A negative review of Mary Mapes’ Truth and Duty, a memoir of her role in the scandal resulting from the 60 Minutes segment she produced about George Bush’s Air National Guard record, criticizes her unwillingness to accept full responsibility for her many mistakes. She details corporate buck-passing in the scandal’s aftermath and shows many of her blogger critics to be partisan and dishonest. But, according to the article, her own inexperience and poor judgment were at the crux of what went wrong: “Mapes was more out of her league than Michael Isikoff or Judith Miller. ”   Jonathan Lethem’s back-page essay on the late Italian author Italo Calvino argues that the wide availability of his complete oeuvre in quality paperback editions does his legacy little good. Lethem loves Calvino’s books, but not all of them are a good introduction for the casual reader. Calvino needs an anthology of his best work in print. ” ‘Greatest Hits’ collections,” Lethem writes, “have their place in literary history.”—B.W.

Economist, Nov. 19 A leader on George Bush’s visit to China encourages the president take a firm stand against U.S. “China-bashers”—especially protectionists in Congress—and to affirm his commitment to free markets. He should push China on human rights and intellectual property issues, and the magazine acknowledges that the United States will never see eye-to-eye with China as long as it remains a totalitarian state. But America must “find a way to work harmoniously alongside a China that is beginning to find its way as a great power. Not every encounter has to be treated as a face-off between rivals.” A special feature on Peter Drucker assesses the career of the management theorist, who died last week at 95. He popularized decentralization, was a strong advocate of privatization, and long ago predicted the rise of the knowledge worker.—B.W.

Weekly Standard, Nov. 21 The cover story scorns the avian flu pandemic threat, arguing that there is no reason to suspect that an outbreak is imminent. In fact, “sick birds have been mixing with humans for years now without producing a pandemic,” and the argument that humans are overdue for a flu pandemic is “unscientific,” as such outbreaks have happened as few as 11 and as many as 39 years apart. “[T]he more serious the potential threat, the less excuse there is for running around like infected chickens with our heads cut off,” the article chides pandemic-worriers. In another article, executive editor Fred Barnes * reflects on the recent Virginia gubernatorial election, in which two previously Republican-voting “exurbs” opted for the Democrat. Barnes believes that the voters rejected the Republican candidate’s attack on illegal immigration and embraced the Democrat’s policy of slow growth for the quickly developing northern Virginia area. The Virginia loss is “bound to be a matter of concern to Republicans as they focus on 2006 and 2008,” Barnes says.—T.B.

New York, Nov. 21 Staff sex columnists Em and Lo document the new trend of “managed monogamy”—hip young couples who are breaking the traditional rules about sex outside their relationships. Arrangements vary, but honest communications and the establishment of boundaries are the keys to their (apparent) success. The authors are skeptical but not dismissive. “Both sexes stay single longer, and variety is built into the way they think of their sex lives,” they write. “Perhaps this time around, seventies-style swinging and slutting will actually be feasible—and fair.” An article about an aphrodisiac nasal spray working its way through the FDA predicts that its potential users will number well beyond the prescription market for male sexual dysfunction. The drug works by stimulating the brain to create sexual desire in both men and women. It won’t be a panacea for relationships, the article concludes, but “it’s enough to hope that someday, when you need it most, it just might get you through the night.”—B.W.

The New Yorker, Nov. 21 Laura Secor reports on the collapse of the Iranian reform movement, which struggled for decades to bring gradual liberalization to the nation from within its public institutions, and which appeared to be winning ground during the eight-year presidency of moderate Mohammad Khatami, which ended this summer. But the country’s youth, apparently lacking the patience and faith of the older reformers, is jaded to the point of a large student boycott of the recent presidential elections; and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—a little-known right-wing populist—was elected this summer. Rollbacks of civil liberties are already under way. Adam Gopnik assesses C.S. Lewis, considering both his captivating, mythic imagination—that which created the Narnia books—and his pedantic, narrowminded Anglicanism. Gopnik concludes that the former was the stronger force, what led Lewis to Christianity, but also his refuge from its strictures. “We sense a deeper joy in Lewis’s prose,” he writes, “as it escapes from the demands of Christian belief into the darker realm of magic.”—B.W.

Mother Jones, December 2005 The special church-and-state issue traces the history of that contentious relationship back to the late 18th century. Taking on the “Christian conservative campaign to convince Americans that the separation of church and state is nothing more than a lie of the secularist left,” the article claims that the omission of “God” in the Constitution “wasn’t an oversight.” The author notes that the framers’ personal beliefs varied significantly from both one another and today’s mainstream Christians. Also, one of the first church-state cases occurred in 1828, long before the Supreme Court began to apply the Bill of Rights to states, when many anti-secularists believe the problems began. Another article examines Christian Reconstruction, a theological movement that hopes to bring more Biblical influence to America’s government. One leader of the movement is Gary DeMar, who envisions a U.S. “government with God at its head.” With public schools gone, abortion illegal, and capital punishment for gay men, Christian Reconstruction is based on a faith that “is politics.”—T.B.

New York Times Magazine, Nov. 20
Slate contributor Ann Hulbert’s cover story on child prodigies assesses the efforts of individuals and institutions that identity and cultivate especially intelligent children and teens. Advocates have created an entire system of testing, awards, and special programs to support them. But, Hulbert asks, have they inadvertently stymied some of the genius they mean to encourage? “Could it be,” she writes, “that in the quest to pinpoint and promote exceptional youthful promise, testers and contests and advocates may have unwittingly introduced early pressure to conform, not to the crowd but to an assiduously monitored, preprofessionalized and future-oriented trajectory?” David Rieff reports from Bolivia on the presidential campaign of Evo Morales, leader of the revolutionary Movement Toward Socialism party. A former leader of the coca farmers’ organization and a full-blooded member of Bolivia’s marginalized Indian majority, his platform includes promises to legalizes all coca production and nationalize Bolivia’s natural resources.—B.W.

Economist, Nov. 12 The cover package focuses on the policy mistakes that helped create a large population of impoverished and alienated second-generation Muslim immigrants in France. The chief culprit is mass unemployment—estimated at 40 percent for youths in the suburbs affected by rioting. The magazine argues strongly for labor-market liberalization, criticizing France’s two-tiered system, under which insiders have nearly perfect job-security and 35-hour workweeks but outsiders are left to pick up scarce part-time contracts. An article on electronic publishing explains the fight between search engines and traditional publishers to control the media. The legality of Google’s approach—scan first and ask questions later—is up in the air, as are revenue and access models. But books are definitely going online, as print publishing has little room for growth: “The total market for all books worldwide totaled $107.5 billion last year. But the American market grew by only 1.8% a year between 1999 and 2004.”—B.W.

Time and Newsweek, Nov. 21 Jordan bombings: Newsweek examines the connection between the war in Iraq and last week’s deadly bombings in Jordan. “If Afghanistan under the Taliban was a backwoods school for terrorism, Iraq is an urban university,” the article says, suggesting that Iraq has become a springboard for terrorist acts around the world. Lawlessness and an alleged financial link between al-Qaida and the insurgents make Iraq prime ground for terrorism training. The Jordan bombings could be just the beginning of Iraq-centered initiatives, the article says. According to a classified CIA report, a “defeat of the insurgency in Iraq would unleash experienced, capable and vengeful terrorists on the rest of the world, and particularly the United States.” Time’s article also asks if this bombing is “just the start” of “spreading … terror beyond Iraq,” noting that if Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is responsible, it could symbolize his organization’s growing strength. However, the article is hopeful, emphasizing “that al-Zarqawai’s murderous tactics may be forcing Muslims to confront the threat he poses to their societies.”

Cover stories:Newsweek’s cover story is a Sen. John McCain-penned article on torture. “The abuse of prisoners harms, not helps, our war effort,” he writes. McCain, a POW during the Vietnam War, uses his own experiences to support his claims. When asked to provide the names of the other men in his flight squadron, McCain “gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse.” Time lists “the most amazing inventions of 2005,” with top honors going to a dog cloned by a team of South Korean scientists. Other winners include the “LifeStraw,” a “beefed-up drinking straw” that makes water potable and can even prevent diarrhea and typhoid, and “flavor sprays” that calorie-conscious foodies can use to add guilt-free chocolate, pesto, bacon, and other flavorings to their dishes.—T.B.

Correction, Nov. 17: The summary of the Weekly Standard originally identified the magazine’s executive editor as Frank Barnes, not Fred. (Return to the corrected sentence.)