I don't know what they're going to do about this rioting", said a newscaster on one of the main local TV stations during the Watts Riots in August 1965, "but I know what I'm going to do." And with that, he pulled a gun from his pocket and laid it on the table before him.
Riots, particularly those with any racial tinge, produce a visceral fear among the middle classes that the underclass will pour out of their estates and ghettos to wreak havoc on their havens.Well, yes. And they’ve got much less far to go than in LA. And we don’t have guns.
The police do, but are remarkably reluctant to use them.
It's been no different in London this time, as the inhabitants of my area of Brixton huddled in fear that looting in the High Street would expand to rape and pillage in the whole neighbourhood.Well, at least Sky TV would have given them fair warning of the hordes advancing…
Back then in California there was open talk of war as the rioters were reported to have taken up the cry of "Burn, Baby, Burn". The National Guard was called in. Nervous and untrained, they shot at anyone carrying away goods from a shop, including 10- and 12-year-old kids.We used to shoot looters too, back in the dim, distant past. Pity we still don’t!
It's hard to see the violence of the last week across Britain as anything very different.
There isn't the same straight racial character to the outbreaks which have occurred in the last few days – although a surprising number of ordinary people seem to believe there is. But all the accusations of "mindless violence", "feral kids" and "social breakdown" – the LA police chief in 1965 didn't improve matters by calling them "monkeys in the zoo" – are pretty much the same.What should we use, non-harsh and judgemental language? This Mac cartoon pretty much sums it up.
Our patience with this sort of appeasement has evaporated.
… the rioting tends to exhaust itself when the young have enjoyed the pleasures of destruction and theft, as much as because of the restoration of order by the police.No, you cretin, it’s not some wildfire in an uninhabited wilderness we should just let burn itself out, it’s people’s homes and livelihoods!
What does matter are the consequences. The Watts Riots led to an intense bout of soul-searching in America and a good deal of action led by President Lyndon Johnson (a good liberal on these matters) to improve conditions for the dispossessed.To….
We should ‘improve their conditions’? Whose conditions? Hers?
And in Britain? The rhetoric, it has to be said, has so far been almost entirely on the lines of suppression rather than reconstruction.What a shocker…
In all the statements of ministers and the Mayor of London there has been virtually no mention of communities and talking with them, only of cracking down on wrong doers.It’s not ‘communities’ out there looting and burning. It’s individuals.
Yet Britain is not nearly as divided, or as frightening, a country as America. Sink estates exist side by side with posher streets. Gated communities are still the exception rather than the rule.I bet they become a lot less of an exception in the future!
Any reconciliation has to be carried out by building community relations between the underclass and their neighbours.Just what does this mouth-breathing cretin think we need to ‘reconcile’?
The one advantage that the authorities have now – unless they want to throw it away in an orgy of punishment – is that the local communities are as appalled by what has happened as the Government is.And they are crying out for punishment. Not ‘reconciliation’.
Take note of that.