From Juan Cole: France refused to adopt affirmative action, instead using "color-blind" policies that ignored the reality of racism, engendering the resentment that eventually exploded.
Okay, so the right wing concept that we should drop affirmative action has been tried and failed.
From TAPPED: France has a much more generous welfare state for the poor than the US, with better housing, better education, and a better standard of living, but the social and political isolation remained and caused the riots.
Okay, so the left wing concept of a decent welfare net with the panacea of a good education for the poor also doesn't work. Many Americans on the left, maybe me included, have felt that national health insurance plus an educational system that doesn't screw over the poor is all that's needed for a wave of prosperity and social harmony. Maybe it's not so simple.
On the other hand, I'm not buying that affirmative action plus neglect of the poor (the US model) is the solution either.