There is an article on Slashdot about the election of Nicolas Sarkozy. The header of the story included Sarkozy is seen as a divisive figure for his demand that immigrants learn Western values (and the French language), a phrase that number of readers commented, noting if I’m going to move to France I’m at least going to try and learn French. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that if you want to come and work in America, you might pick up a little English first.

There were a few comments on Muslims and immigration. One reader, who claims to be a Muslim himself, wrote If you’re a second-generation Muslim with a foreign accent, something is seriously wrong. If you immigrate to a country, you should raise your children to natively speak the language of that country. And, truly, it is one of the things that surprised me when I lived in the US, that second-generation Americans of obvious Asiatic or Muslim ascent had no hint of an accent when they spoke English. Something in the French integration system does not work as well as it does in the US.

Another reader noticed this as well:

The immigration problem in France is a world away from the “problems” we have in the US. By and large, our immigrants either end up working hard in the lower runs of society, and many end up leading productive lives in the professional class (doctors, engineers, etc). Many groups in our immigrant population assimilate […] and even the ones that don’t do not go out of their way to resist American culture. In comparison, the French have to deal with huge waves of lower-class immigrants who clog up their social welfare system. Moreover, not only do they not assimilate, but they actively resist and antagonize the native culture.

We will really know whether Sarkozy is successful addressing this issue if and only if second-generation muslims start speaking of France as their country, with pride, and become proud of French litterature. This is all too infrequent today, unfortunately.

On the topic of voting systems, a number of readers found it surprising that Royal would “surrender” so quickly (since the last American elections took days to be resolved), to which a reader indirectly replied: On the other hand, Americans could do worse than adopt the French election system. A genuine, fair two-round election, an 85% voter turn-out, a clear majority for the winner, and the election over at election night — not bad, isn’t it?

Finally, there was one high level comment on the dynamics of democracy which I found interesting: the side that is being the poor losers and choosing to tear apart the democracy rather than accept loss is the side that, when they win, produces the relatively peaceful government. The side that, when they win, produces “polarization” is the more democratic side. It’s almost as if this guy lived here.


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