Welcome to Castle Pontourny!

 

CastleGreetings, Ricochet, and welcome to Castle Pontourny! Marie-Alphonse Gréban de Pontourny, who lies in repose in the sepulchre of the chapel, bequeathed the chateau to the cause of charity and public works. For the next ten months, this majestic chateau in the pastoral Loire valley could be yours, all expenses paid! Are you stressed? Depressed? A staff of full-time counsellors and psychotherapists will be on hand to support you. Dissatisfied with your job prospects? You can study a new trade. Out of shape? There will be daily sports and fitness activities. Having a spiritual crisis? The staff is trained to help. And to keep your mind active, there will be daily discussion groups about current events, French history, geopolitics, and theology. Doesn’t that sound nice?

It does to me, which is why I’d like you to call the French government hotline and tell them you’re worried I’m about to join ISIS.

Apparently, I could be offered — if I’m willing to take it — a chance to reintegrate myself into French society at Castle Pontourney.

pontourny_centre_0I haven’t seen it for myself. So I can’t assure you that it is not, as reported in this most-read story on The Daily Beast, an Orwellian re-education camp:

Marseille — Young men from the northern districts of this most Muslim city in France are expected be among the first to be called up when the government in Paris kicks off its Orwellian new plan to fight the so-called Islamic State.

The idea is to herd suspected extremists into mysterious “deradicalization centers” all over the country. There are an estimated 9,000 radicalized—or “potentially radicalized”—jihadis believed to be in France, officials say. Another 2,000 French nationals are thought to have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight for the Islamic State.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last week that France will establish as many as 13 centers all over the country—picture an odd mix of halfway house, prison, and sleepover camp—where Islamist radicals or those who show signs of wanting to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq will be housed and “re-educated.” Oh, and they’ll be monitored “day and night” for 10 months while wearing special uniforms, Valls said.

But from what I can tell so far, there’s no connection between this description and reality.

You can download and read the new Action Plan Against Radicalization and Terrorism on the Interior Ministry’s website. There are 80 measures in total. Most of them are what you’d expect: The government will be bombing ISIS in Syria, reinforcing nuclear plants and other potential targets, increasing the budget and staff of the intelligence and security services, sharing intelligence more widely within the Schengen zone, and yes, creating regional centers for at-risk youth.

But “herding suspected extremists into mysterious” camps? No, there are no plans to “herd” young men anywhere. Or to herd women, for that matter, since the center will be open to them, too. Participation in the program is voluntary, a salient detail omitted from the article. The plans are not mysterious; in fact, they’ve been widely reported, as has been the point that participants can leave anytime. This is precisely why the residents of Pontourny aren’t sure that they want it there. 

Since 2014, France has had a toll-free number for people call if they’re worried that a friend or a family member is behaving oddly. If you call the number, you’ll be interviewed by specialists who will assess the situation; if the person in question is a minor, he or she will be prevented from leaving the country.

If someone is assessed to be “at risk,” but has not committed a crime, he or she will be encouraged to spend time at a “weird, Orwellian re-education camp” like this one:

There he or she will receive counselling, education, mentoring, therapy, and job-training. Staff will lead group discussions about geopolitics and religion. Participants will be eligible for a two-month job internship. Afterward, they’ll be followed up by psychologists and psychiatrists.

From what I can tell, it’s standard cult deprogramming. As Le Monde reports,

“About thirty candidates, age 18 to 30, can stay there seven days a week or 24 hours a day if they want. [My emphasis.] They will be welcomed and supervised by 25-27 people,” specified the Prefect. The aim of the centers, each of which will cost an average of one million euros, is to “permit these individuals to rebuild, restructure, to have new projects, and find a job.”

But the headline “France’s Weird Jihadi Re-Education Camps Could Become ISIS Incubators” leads to what’s now the top story on The Daily Beast.

Pontourney isn’t that far from Paris. Thanks to you, I can go there when it opens this summer and see what’s really happening there. It sounds as if it might be quite an interesting story — although I’m pretty sure it’s not the story reported in The Daily Beast.

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  1. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    genferei: In truly French fashion, the police are holding demonstrations today against the anti-police mood.

    I really feel for them. As I was walking home the day before yesterday I saw some very exhausted-looking cops, in a seriously bad mood. I looked at their faces and saw how bone-tired they were, and how demoralized — just the last thing an already exhausted and overworked police force needs.

    Claire,

    Not to get off the subject, but this kind of thing really does affect police performance. Because of Ferguson and BLM protests, the cops have been backing off for the last 6 months (what can you do when the AG and the President himself add fuel to the fire). As 95% of black violent deaths are caused by black on black gang related crime (with illegal guns) the black death by murder rate has soared.

    Just another day in the neighborhood.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #31
  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Johnny Dubya: As Dennis Prager has said, some believe that people are basically good, and some believe that people are not

    Is it binary? Either good or bad, nothing in between, no use for subtler gradations?

    • #32
  3. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Is it binary? Either good or bad, nothing in between, no use for subtler gradations?

    To make clearer Prager’s position, I should have written, “Many believe that people are basically good; Prager does not.”

    I think he does see it as binary.  Of course there are individuals who are completely and utterly good, whose benevolent impulses cannot be suppressed.  These individuals are a tiny minority.  There are also people who are inherently monstrous and evil.  They are also a tiny minority.

    However, civilization is a thin veneer, and most people are capable of evil and monstrous acts under certain circumstances.  On a sinking cruise ship, even “good” men will push women, children, and the elderly out of the way as they make for the lifeboats.  Even a “good” spouse can be capable of murder upon the discovery of marital infidelity.

    It’s even harder to purge evil when people choose it.  Here’s Prager:

    [I]f you believe people are born good, you will attribute evil to forces outside the individual. That is why, for example, our secular humanistic culture so often attributes evil to poverty. Millions of…Westerners believe that the cause of Islamic terror is poverty…. [They] cannot accept the fact that many people have evil values and choose evil for reasons having nothing to do with their economic situation…. No amount of money will dissuade those who believe that God wants them to rule the world and murder all those they deem infidels.

    • #33
  4. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I’ve been telling people publicly, ever since summer 1994, that my days will end in one of Hillary’s internment camps.  Could you find out if any of her people are here taking notes?

    • #34
  5. Schwaibold Inactive
    Schwaibold
    @Schwaibold

    This place sounds like a brick and mortar version of a suicide hot line. While not harmful or outrageous, the best you could hope to accomplish is to counsel, persuade, inform, cajole, a handful of prospective terrorists into abandoning their plans, occupying their time and distracting them temporarily. Of course, at some point in the future they could easily end up regretting having been tricked into essentially disobeying Allah’s orders.

    I don’t see how the items in France’s ‘action plan’ will solve anything long term. A new interpretation/understanding of Islam is required, and France has little influence in this area. I suppose this could be lumped into the category “Actively engaging in research and developing counter-speech”, but I doubt many Muslims will take seriously any “counter-speech” developed by the French.

    The best approach would be to remove the politically correct muzzle on criticism of Islam proper, find Muslims who have novel and innovative ways of interpreting Islam that don’t include political Islam, Islamic (physical) supremacism, anti-Semitism, etc. Foster debates between moderates and radicals (and supply round the clock
    bodyguards for the kafir nee Muslim innovators).  Support and publicize an army of Irshad Manji-like reformers.

    • #35
  6. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    The Reticulator:

    I’ve been telling people publicly, ever since summer 1994, that my days will end in one of Hillary’s internment camps. Could you find out if any of her people are here taking notes?

    That’s a crazy thought.

    Now could you spell your name for me? I want to get it right for the report.

    • #36
  7. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    To make clearer Prager’s position, I should have written, “Many believe that people are basically good; Prager does not.”

    Neither, I would reckon, does anyone who’s had a wide exposure to life and humanity, or who takes seriously basic Christian doctrine, as I would argue most of us raised in the West do, whether consciously or not. I certainly don’t think people are “basically good.” But the right families, societies, and systems of incentives and punishments can bring out the best in people; and many people are capable of being good under those circumstances.

    I think he does see it as binary.

    I don’t really understand why. His experiences of life must have been very, very different from mine; I’ve rarely encountered pure evil or sainthood. I have encountered evil people; they exist, but most people I meet are a very complex mix of impulses and traits, anything but binary.

    Of course there are individuals who are completely and utterly good,

    I’ve yet to meet one. Again, basic Christian theology suggests there was only one such person. Even if I don’t accept the doctrine wholesale, the idea that we’re all sinners seems congruent with my experiences.

    whose benevolent impulses cannot be suppressed. These individuals are a tiny minority. There are also people who are inherently monstrous and evil. They are also a tiny minority.

    However, civilization is a thin veneer, and most people are capable of evil and monstrous acts under certain circumstances.

    Agree.

    On a sinking cruise ship, even “good” men will push women, children, and the elderly out of the way as they make for the lifeboats. Even a “good” spouse can be capable of murder upon the discovery of marital infidelity.

    It’s even harder to purge evil when people choose it. Here’s Prager:

    [I]f you believe people are born good, you will attribute evil to forces outside the individual. That is why, for example, our secular humanistic culture so often attributes evil to poverty. Millions of…Westerners believe that the cause of Islamic terror is poverty…. [They] cannot accept the fact that many people have evil values and choose evil for reasons having nothing to do with their economic situation…. No amount of money will dissuade those who believe that God wants them to rule the world and murder all those they deem infidels.

    I don’t think there’s any single cause. It’s certainly not “poverty,” if that were true, as David pointed out, it would be hard to account for the 9/11 hijackers. But there’s a some evidence now that there’s a certain kind of kid who’s drawn to jihadism — usually, but not always from a second- or third-generation immigrant background, although sometimes not even from a Muslim family at all; basically a screwed-up kid of the kind who usually just becomes a delinquent. Someone not especially bright, and often not even particularly pious, either — in fact, quite a few of them seem to know very little about Islam. Unemployed, unemployable, and easy prey for jihadi recruiters on the Internet, who then move on to working them in person — much the way child molesters do.

    I don’t think it’s crazy to imagine that parents could spot the signs that their son or daughter was intrigued by jihadi websites, speaking to people he or she shouldn’t be speaking to on the Internet, having trouble in school, losing a job, spending less time at the mosque the family usually goes to and more time at another one, saying things that freak their parents out and fill them with terror — and I think that if he or she were my kid, I’d cooperate entirely with law enforcement and the psychologists and this team of deprogrammers to get my kid out of their hands, as long as I didn’t think it would result in my kid being imprisoned for life or killed.

    And maybe if they catch it early enough, they can keep the kids from going down a path from which there’s no coming back. I don’t know. The only way to know is to do the studies and see.

    I don’t think people suddenly wake up one morning and think, “You know what? My life’s great, but I want to go join the Caliphate and kill people.” There’s a process by which that happens, and stages along the way. This kind of program seems worth a shot to me. I certainly don’t think it should be dismissed out of hand. Because what’s the alternative? Ignoring these kids and waiting for them to become time bombs, or bombs of some more literal kind? Arresting them even though they’ve committed no crime?

    • #37
  8. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I don’t think people suddenly wake up one morning and think, “You know what? My life’s great, but I want to go join the Caliphate and kill people.”

    The problem, Claire, is that you cannot change their culture. You believe in freedom, secular government and equality. And because of these beliefs you can not be convinced to ruthlessly squash their culture.

    But they can be convinced to squash yours. There is no job, no level of personal wealth or comfort achieved that will convince them that Western permissiveness is not an evil that must be destroyed.

    No matter what “scholars,” the media or anyone else says Allah is not the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. How many majority Muslim nations can you name that treat women, homosexuals, Jews and Christians as full equals?

    • #38
  9. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    EJHill:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: I don’t think people suddenly wake up one morning and think, “You know what? My life’s great, but I want to go join the Caliphate and kill people.”

    The problem, Claire, is that you cannot change their culture. You believe in freedom, secular government and equality. And because of these beliefs you can not be convinced to ruthlessly squash their culture.

    But they can be convinced to squash yours. There is no job, no level of personal wealth or comfort achieved that will convince them that Western permissiveness is not an evil that must be destroyed.

    No matter what “scholars,” the media or anyone else says Allah is not the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. How many majority Muslim nations can you name that treat women, homosexuals, Jews and Christians as full equals?

    This times 1000.

    • #39
  10. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Of course there are individuals who are completely and utterly good,

    I’ve yet to meet one. Again, basic Christian theology suggests there was only one such person. Even if I don’t accept the doctrine wholesale, the idea that we’re all sinners seems congruent with my experiences.

    whose benevolent impulses cannot be suppressed.

    Point taken.  How about “Of course there are individuals who are seem completely and utterly good, whose benevolent impulses cannot be easily suppressed”?

    You’re a good editor, Claire.  I was thinking of the clichéd, “Mother Teresa” type.  But even she probably was not as saintly as she appeared.  You are correct that the worldwide count of completely and utterly good people is most likely zero.

    • #40
  11. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    EJHill:The problem, Claire, is that you cannot change their culture. You believe in freedom, secular government and equality.

    For the group we’re talking about, so did they. They also grew up in a country, and probably in a family, that believes these things. There’s no single family profile of ‘who becomes a jihadi,” but the big risk factors seem to be a) weak or absent father; 2) Francophonie (Turkish-speaking immigrants don’t at all have comparable rates of radicalization) and exposure to jihadi recruiting. None of them started out in the “culture” of jihad; it’s something they had to seek out and learn.]

    And because of these beliefs you can not be convinced to ruthlessly squash their culture.

    But they can be convinced to squash yours. There is no job, no level of personal wealth or comfort achieved that will convince them that Western permissiveness is not an evil that must be destroyed.

    If that were true, why would people leave cults of any kind? But they do.

     How many majority Muslim nations can you name that treat women, homosexuals, Jews and Christians as full equals

    Again, we’re talking about people who grew up in France, often people who are first-generation converts to Islam (usually in that case naive young women).

    • #41
  12. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    EJHill:The problem, Claire, is that you cannot change their culture. You believe in freedom, secular government and equality.

    For the group we’re talking about, so did they. They also grew up in a country, and probably in a family, that believes these things. There’s no single family profile of ‘who becomes a jihadi,” but the big risk factors seem to be a) weak or absent father; 2) Francophonie (Turkish-speaking immigrants don’t at all have comparable rates of radicalization) and exposure to jihadi recruiting. None of them started out in the “culture” of jihad; it’s something they had to seek out and learn.]

    And because of these beliefs you can not be convinced to ruthlessly squash their culture.

    But they can be convinced to squash yours. There is no job, no level of personal wealth or comfort achieved that will convince them that Western permissiveness is not an evil that must be destroyed.

    If that were true, why would people leave cults of any kind? But they do.

    How many majority Muslim nations can you name that treat women, homosexuals, Jews and Christians as full equals

    Again, we’re talking about people who grew up in France, often people who are first-generation converts to Islam (usually in that case naive young women).

    Claire,

    You are slightly blind to this because you are taking religion to be a cultural thing. Since they were not “raised in the culture” you assume that it isn’t a factor. Religion is also a faith and a spiritual connection to Gd. The spiritual connection is the good part and the reason why they are so vulnerable. Young people are seeking out a connection to Gd and if they find it in a Mosque that is preaching and recruiting Jihad they are in trouble.

    The specific faith connection is where you seem not to wish to look. The intensity of the death cult in Islam’s Jihadism is elaborate and absolute. If such a belief system takes deep root, the person’s mind is poisoned and they are like a walking bomb. This might take a number of years but there is no rush as they are willingly coming to the Mosque already. There is no avoiding this conclusion. If they had been young & disaffected first generation Jewish walking into a Chabad or had been Catholic walking into a Church, then the mind poison would not have happened.

    They would get the benefits of the connection to Gd without the deadly side effects.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #42
  13. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    James Gawron:They would get the benefits of the connection to Gd without the deadly side effects.

    Regards,

    That’s why there will be imams at the rehab facility, too, to help them get straightened out.

    • #43
  14. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    James Gawron:They would get the benefits of the connection to Gd without the deadly side effects.

    Regards,

    That’s why there will be imams at the rehab facility, too, to help them get straightened out.

    Claire,

    So my dear professor you are up early. Is it sunny in Paris? I liked it when it was sunny in Paris.

    As far as having the imams at the rehab, now you are making real sense. They will have the knowledge and authority to lead them back through the thicket of Sharia to a brighter non-Jihadist interpretation. Still one must be careful.

    Florida keeper broke rules before tiger killed her, zoo says

    Please follow the rules but I think you could be on to something. By the way, you wouldn’t be eating scrambled eggs would you? Ah, well never mind.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #44
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