Student sit-ins. Marches and protests. Strikes. A few torched cars and broken windows. Over 1400 people arrested or detained, 62 cops injured.
Such political unrest could only be in the name of some grand social injustice, right? Racism, the right to vote, democracy maybe. I mean, if you plan on snarling air traffic, slowing down the train systems and surreptitiously blaring the national anthem over the metro loudspeaker, it better be for a really good reason.
When you take it to the streets like that, when you invoke liberté! and egalité! like it’s going out of style, someone better be seriously trampling on your civil rights. You should be feeling mighty oppressed. I’m talking my children are starving, it’s time for radical change, “do you hear the people sing!” kind of oppressed, right? Right!?
Wrong. All it takes here apparently is the suggestion that the retirement age be raised from 60 to 62.
It’s a little bit like crying wolf, no? But the real kicker is that the majority of the people out there staging sit-ins and marching are high-schoolers. Kids that have probably never worked a day in their lives, b*tching about the retirement age because that’s more fun than sitting in class. It’s absolutely insane.
But just to reassure you: The strikes going on right now really aren’t a big deal. The media across the pond is making it seem like the end of the world, but if you didn’t read the papers or watch the news, there’s a very good chance you could walk through the streets of Paris without the slightest clue that anything was amiss.
Strikes are normal here. It’s just a part of the cultural identity. I think French people might actually start freaking out if there wasn’t a strike going on. But then they’d remember it’s August or Fall break or Sunday, and nobody strikes on a Sunday! That’s when the union workers get to sleep in and rest up for the strike they planned on Thursday! Because Friday is a holiday and they’re really looking forward to the extra long weekend.
(PS: is it just me, or does that guy singing in the Les Mis video really look a lot like The Hoff?)