France's Willie Sutton

The SF Chronicle reports on why they burn cars in France.

One rioter's answer:

"What else are you going to burn?"

Interestingly, though, car burning is very routine in France. It's just that the numbers are higher these past couple weeks:

No other country in Europe immolates cars with the gusto and single-minded efficiency of France. Even during tranquil periods, an average of 80 vehicles per day are set alight somewhere in the country.

"Burning cars is rather typically French," said Michel Wieviorka, a French sociologist who has studied the phenomenon. "The last two weeks have been unusual, but it is more common than people realize."

The practice, he said, goes back to the late 1970s, when the suburbs began to seethe. Parked cars made an inviting target for gangs of young men nursing a grudge and hungry for attention.

Heck, it's the national pastime! Those immigrants are just displaying patriotic fervor for their adopted homeland!

Or maybe they just want to follow in the footsteps of Jose Bove, who became a folk hero by destroying a McDonald's.

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