Iâ€™m trying to imagine what it must be like to spend your last moments hiding in an electrical transformer so that you donâ€™t have to be interviewed by the police. Or what itâ€™s like living an existence where the police often question you and make you show papers whether youâ€™ve done anything or not. I wonder what itâ€™s like, or what it will be like, for the young man who is still alive.
There are three young men â€“ two dead, one wounded â€“ who are being used as poster children for riots and fires all over France. People have posited that the international class war is starting, that the poor are going to take the world back, that weâ€™ve started revolution. All I wonder is whether these three young men would have partaken in these activities.
I have no first hand experience with the mob phenomenon, but I have been nearby during two sports-related riots: when Ohio State University were the national Division I football champions a few years back and when the Boston Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. In both instances, cars were tipped, fires were started, packs of young people hit the streets, and police officers struggled to manage the behavior of many who would never have considered such a thing alone or even in a smaller group.
What is it about a large mob that entices young people to mayhem and rioting? Anonymity? Peer pressure? That sort of energy that just overtakes you? Iâ€™ve been reading that news of the riots in Clichy-sous-Bois spread over the internet, text messages, cell phones, and word of mouth with the sort of speed that only todayâ€™s technology can bring, and that these correspondences have incited riots all over France. More mobs. More riots.
And while I see dramatic photos of fires and angry young people, my thoughts canâ€™t help but wander to the unseen image of three scared and frustrated young people, one only 15 years old, hiding out in a transformer and getting themselves electrocuted in order to avoid another night of harassment.
We may be witnessing a turning point in world history, a point where the underclass, the ignored, make their presence known in the most effective way they know how. Will it spark class riots throughout the world, or will it fizzle out as quickly as it began and leave its participants as silenced and marginalized as they were before a few days or weeks of excitement? I guess only time will tell.