08-23-2011, 08:27 AM
‘Lock People Up? We Haven’t Got the Heart for That
| ‘Lock People Up? We Haven’t Got the Heart for That’ |
Whistle past the graveyard all you like, but even if you’re whistling “Rule Britannia,” the graveyard will still be there. (And don't miss Ed Driscoll: "Nobody Mention the Culture War.")
But whether in Los Angeles or London, the precipitating events were merely the sparks that ignited the fuel, like lightning striking a parched forest. Whatever honest claims to outrage might have been made by the original demonstrators, the violence that followed was nothing more than lawlessness masquerading as social protest. As a gang member turned informant told me in 1992, “F*** Rodney King. Rodney King ain’t no Crip. We don’t give a s*** about Rodney King.” And I’m sure that in England, not one rioter in a thousand could have told you who Mark Duggan was.
Also like in Los Angeles in 1992, the police in London appeared unwilling or unable to confront the sudden outbreak of violence, linked as it was, however tenuously, to a controversial police use of force. In both cases the rioting lasted for three days, with isolated incidents continuing for days more.
And just as was the case in Los Angeles, in England there is no shortage of commentary seeking to excuse the rioters’ behavior as the logical consequence of mistreatment by the government, the police, the rich, or what have you. With the excuse making comes the implicit threat that if the government doesn’t rain down large sums of money on all those oppressed people, well, don’t say you weren’t warned.
To his great credit, British Prime Minister David Cameron cited a “moral collapse” as one cause of the riots, which of course was greeted by howls of derision from elites on both sides of the Atlantic. The New York Times, in a display of moral confusion one might expect to find in a high school newspaper, editorialized thus:
Mr. Cameron, a product of Britain’s upper classes and schools, has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subcultures.You see? He’s from a good family and good schools, so he is unqualified to render judgment on those so driven by desperation that they are impelled to join the mobs running amok and helping themselves to other people’s property, especially when members of his own kind have been caught behaving so objectionably. Not to excuse those involved in the phone hacking and expense account scandals, but do the editors at the New York Times not recognize a distinction between these crimes and the mob violence seen in England two weeks ago?
Would he find similar blame — this time in the culture of the well housed and well off — for Britain’s recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?
But now, what’s to be done about it all? Seeking solutions to Britain’s crime problem, Cameron has reached out to William Bratton, former head of the police departments in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, who has agreed to be an unpaid adviser on gangs and street crime. As one might expect, Cameron’s solicitation of Bratton was received less than warmly by police officials in England. Sir Hugh Orde, Great Britain’s chief constable, was dismissive of what Bratton might contribute to the discussion. “I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them,” Orde told the Independent. “It seems to me, if you’ve got 400 gangs, then you’re not being very effective. If you look at the style of policing in the States, and their levels of violence, they are so fundamentally different from here.”
Last edited by EmptyTimCup; 08-23-2011 at 08:32 AM.
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