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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Thanks, France, for your appeasement experiment

Who would have thought any country, even France, would volunteer for an experiment like this one?

American domestic policy is to respond to violence with violence. If you have a gripe with the system, express it at the ballot box. Those who express it by damaging property or killing the innocent go to jail, or worse.

France responds to violence with apologies. After 12 days of rioting, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was falling all over himself. "The effectiveness of our integration model is in question," he said. He called the looters' actions "a warning" and an "appeal."

From this side of the ocean, France's appeasement policy looks a whole lot like giving a screaming toddler the candy bar he wants. As all parents know, the toddler will just scream louder next time.

But America's eye-for-an-eye approach has its detractors. The many words spoken in honor of Rosa Parks after her recent death had to be couched carefully; passive resistance is fine in race relations, but not with terrorists.

The idea that anyone would try the approach with thousands of violent Muslims, however, is hard to believe. No sane politician in America would even suggest the strategy.

France, though, has had the good grace to be our laboratory. Should a nation meet violent internal unrest with apologies, or does that just set the scene for more violence?

We think we know the answer to the question, an answer so obvious to us that it is startling any nation would try it. It's like a scientist who comes up with the theory that the best cure for cancer is foregoing medicine. Where does he find a test subject to conduct the experiment?

So thank you, Prime Minister Villepin. We are not optimistic, but we wish you the best. If the experiment works, we'll have good reason to evaluate the appeasement strategy more carefully.

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