London’s burning, an alternative viewpoint.
You know what you do when one or two hundred kids in hoodies turn up in your high street and start looting it?
Nothing. That’s what you do because you’re helpless. There’s only one of you and the police force you trusted are nowhere in sight. Yes, you’ve called them but you’re just another one of those twenty thousand calls they’ve taken that night so you stand there and watch them smash and loot because you’re helpless. You don’t have a gun or a knife. They’re the ones who’ve probably got those and you’re the one who’s not allowed to carry arms. You don’t need to; you’re protected by the police.
You watch them smash windows and grills to get after stuff and see them walk away with it. Nobody is running. A few exhausted cops watch it too. Maybe it’s your livelihood they’re walking off with but you’re not supposed to get angry about it but you do. It may not have been a great livelihood but it was yours.
The BBC wouldn’t like you to get angry. Let’s face it, with them you’re either a native with a white ass, who never matters anyway, or a petty bourgeois capitalist with a slightly brown sub-continental Indian ass, and neither have been plat du jour with those arbiters of social justice and political correctness for a few decades and anyway, they’re busy reporting on how one or more of their reporters may or may not have suffered a serious abrasion while reporting the whole thing at a safe distance using Twitter.
The bit you did calming your kids in the flat over the shop being looted, all the time hoping to God they wouldn’t torch it, really doesn’t matter either; the media all live in Kensington, Barnes, Richmond and the other fashionable areas that won’t be visited anyway. You and your family are not going to be the focus of their attention. They’re already cranking up the great cry from the heart on behalf of those poor deprived people driven to be looters. Oh, they’re bright enough not to go for that one directly but all the foreplay is there with all the usual leading questions being asked. How could this happen? Does it reflect on us as a society? Where’d we all go wrong? You know where that’s all heading towards as well; it’s somehow your fault and you’re supposed to feel guilty about it too. You’re on your own and you know it, as all Londoners do tonight.
You’re on your own and they’re untouchable. The cops think very hard before going after them, much as they’d like to, even if they have the advantage of numbers. The courts go out of their way not to send them up the river for a long spell. The media treats them with great compassion and understanding. Brain them and you’re probably the one who’ll end up in court. Why is this? What is the great mystery here?
It’s because they’re black. There, I’ve said it so I must be a racist. Being a young black criminal is a marvelous thing in today’s Britain. It’s become not only the great get out of jail card but nearly guarantees you won’t go to jail in the first place. They’re “made” men, protected men. On one side they have a reporter from the Guardian just hot to trot about their deprived background and on the other side they’ve got a human rights lawyer, pro bono of course, ready to hurl themselves in front of any sort of oncoming judicial retribution.
Sure, they’re not all black but who’s kidding who here? You watched the media hunt desperately on the first night for at least one good shot of a white kid involved and plaster that photograph everywhere. They had to look hard too. No white kid in their right mind was going out on the street with that lot in charge of it.
They needn’t have worried though. They should have known all they had to do was wait until the next night. By then, all the young white criminals, who’d watched the easy looting on the telly, made sure they were out in numbers to get their share of the booty and they were too.
We have a Prime Minister repeatedly telling us about our “broken” society. Well, Mr. Cameron, I’ve got news for you. What we’ve got is the same fundamentally decent and tolerant society that we’ve always had but it has a criminal element, which was always there too. It always will be as well. No amount of outreach, social initiatives or heart searching will ever change that; they simply don’t care. They never have and they never will either.
The only bit of our society that’s broken is the decades long shift in emphasis from the victims of crime to the perpetrators and the blame for that lies squarely with politicians like you and numerous social commentators who think the can engineer a conscience into criminals without actually punishing them in any meaningful way. The person who’s jumped for their life from a burning building or just been violently assaulted and robbed doesn’t care about why the criminal did it, they just want people like that off the streets so the ordinary person can go about their business without being in fear for their lives, which is the first duty of any government. This is the single most important thing that every community in this country, irrespective of their colour, asked of you Mr. Cameron and you failed us Sir, you failed us badly.
The society we have contains fine decent people like Mr. Tariq Jahan, a father of a murdered son, who spoke movingly and with a quiet authority in the immediate aftermath of every parent’s nightmare, to prevent rioting spiraling further down into racial violence. He succeeded and in my opinion, his words and bearing were more effective than anything said by any of our political leaders.
I can only offer to him and the families of the other two young men, my deepest sympathy and my lasting admiration of someone who could still think in terms of the wider community, in the midst of what was obviously such a grievious personal loss to them. You are an example to us all Mr. Jahan.
What happened on the streets of London and subsequently in other towns, was simply the breakdown of law and order with a criminal class running rampant. They got away with it once so, unless things change, they’ll do it again. That change can be made though.
In the nineteen seventies, the great city of New York looked over the very same precipice that London is now staring down into today and decided to do something about it. They did several things but the main one that had the biggest impact on the quality of life of its inhabitants, is they gave their police department a simple order and then got out of its way to let it do its job unhindered. They were told to enforce the law strictly at all levels of criminality everywhere in the city, irrespective of the race, religion, age or gender of the offender.
If they needed more laws, the city would pass them. If they needed more resources, the city would provide them. If the jails were filling up, that’s okay, they’d build a few new ones. No more political interference. All the howls of moral indignation from the liberal establishment were ignored and the cops simply rolled up their sleeves and got to work. It took a few years but they turned it around and that city not only became a safe place again but also a pleasant and very desirable place to live and work in.
In the mean time, London has been steadily going in the other direction. The simple fact is, you are now much more likely to be murdered on the streets of London than New York city and that has been true for a long time. London stopped being a safe city a number of years ago and it’s been getting progressively worse. I’ve lived and worked in London several times but on my occasional visits since then, that change has been sadly all too visible.
Last weekend was a taste of things to come. The only upside to what happened is you’ve now got a very angry city who want action, real action, not some phoney broom-waving rerun of the blitz spirit. The thugs have just inadvertently handed you a very strong mandate Boris. I suggest you either use it or get used to the sight of one of the great cities of the world periodically looking like downtown Mogadishu on a bad Saturday night.
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