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Opinion

Opinion

UK battling internal enemy

August 12, 2011

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— Some have compared the riots in the UK to the London Blitz. It’s a flawed comparison. The strategic bombing of London in 1940 came from an external enemy, Nazi Germany. Enemies from within are carrying out the free-for-all that began in Tottenham, England on Saturday — quickly spreading to London and other parts of the UK — following the shooting death of suspected gang member Mark Duggan by Metropolitan Police.

Theresa May, the British home secretary, rejected calls for water cannons and more forceful methods to help overwhelmed police quell the chaos. Interviewed on Sky News, May said, “The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.” If that sounds completely feckless, that’s because it is.

Businesses have been wiped out. Untold numbers of jobs have been lost. Did the community “consent” to that? If even a few shop owners had been armed, perhaps these products of the British welfare, entitlement and envy state might have thought twice about their thuggish behavior. Unfortunately, gun laws in Britain are strict, owners must be licensed and self-defense can be difficult to prove. Northern Ireland, while also part of the UK, has more liberal gun ownership laws and the bar to prove self-defense is much lower, perhaps because of the history of violence in the country before the peace agreement. There has been no rioting in Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament from its summer session to discuss the situation and to present a “united” front. But that, along with condemnations “in the strongest terms” won’t address the real problem, which many Britons may not wish to confront.

The problem in Britain, and increasingly in America, is moral and spiritual, not economic and political. British history and values are no longer being adequately taught in the UK for fear a sense of super-nationalism might be conveyed. This at a time when no nation is to be considered superior to any other, a view expressed by President Obama.

According to a 2007 research report on church attendance in the UK from Tearfund, a UK Christian relief and development agency, just “fifteen percent of UK adults go to church at least once a month.” BBC News reports that according to a 2001 Census survey, “a fifth of children are in lone-parent families ... 91 percent of these families headed by mother” and there is “a minority of married couples for the first time — 45 percent of the population versus 64 percent in 1981.” So when the government calls on parents to be more vigilant about the whereabouts of their teenagers, the likelihood there are enough stable two-parent households who care enough to do so is not encouraging.

If civility, right and wrong, personal responsibility and accountability and the right to life, liberty and personal property are not values worthy of being passed on to the next generation, then their opposites will be taught by default. When a society refuses to impose a moral code in its schools, homes and culture, pandemonium is the result — think Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. Multiply that several times and you have the lawlessness that has swept Britain with greater force than its mad cow disease scare.

“This was not an angry crowd; this was a greedy crowd,” said Chris Sims, chief constable of West Midlands police. One could see that from the TV shots of women trying on clothes and shoes before stealing them and men ripping flat-screen TVs off walls and smashing windows and jewelry cases.

There’s a TV program called “Sons of Anarchy.” It is fiction. These rioters are the real sons (and daughters) of anarchy and it will take more than political condemnations to repair the damage they’ve caused. Seventy years ago, the London Blitz forged a national unity in Britain. Where’s that unity today?

Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. His email address is tmseditors@tribune.com

Comments

Don Whiteley 3 years, 4 months ago

This is less a religious or moral dilemma than it is society's acceptance of this vile and deplorable behavior. Around the world, police have become less and less energetic in stopping this kind of behavior because society has been more sympathy for the looters than it has for the victims. We have become so tolerant of mayhem that we elect to let it destroy the lives and livlihoods of innocent victims than risk seeming to harsh.

As we begin cutting back services in America to balance our budget, we're very likely to see the same thing, or worse. Those who have been on the government's dole for years will not take lightly to having their cake taken away, and Americans have a far higher tendency towards violence than Britains.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Actually, the better question is what causes this sort of thing.

If you read a little about it, you find that there are several causes:

High rates of unemployment and low rates of education and job training among the young.

High levels of income inequality in the society.

"Austerity" measures for programs that help those at the bottom combined with bailouts of those at the top.

If we continue those largely Republican policies, I think you are right, and we will see more of that sort of thing here.

Of course, Ann Coulter's suggestion is for the police to simply massacre those kids - I guess that's the right wing solution to these problems.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

In addition to the causes you list, probably the main cause is frequent police harassment and often brutal treatment of youth, especially minorities, and the apparent murder of the "suspected gang member" was the lit fuse necessary to light an already loaded powder keg.

That doesn't excuse the irrational and violent behavior of the rioters, but when so many of the youths in a society choose to act thusly simply because they feel they have nothing to lose, not all the blame falls to them.

And we here in the US shouldn't be surprised when the race to the bottom, now being accelerated by austerity hysteria, results thousands if not millions of people in similar hopeless situations act similarly.

I'm sure that Ann Coulter would say the solution is just to have mass executions. But she's an idiot, albeit a dangerous one.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Do you like her solution?

She calls for the police in Britain to simply kill all of the rioters.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

I also think that rioters and looters should be held accountable for their actions.

But let's not mistake that as a cure for the ills that created the conditions in which this violence could take place.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Agreed.

In general, the right seems to focus on actions without considering the causes.

It's fine to "punish" behavior we want to discourage, but if we don't get at the causes, it's not a very lasting solution.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Does that mean killing them?

That's Ms. Coulter's suggestion.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

In closer-to-home revolution news: "The investigation into violent incidents on the opening night of the Wisconsin State Fair has resulted in the arrest of a 16-year-old African-American who told investigators he targeted whites, according to police. The Milwaukee teen told police he and other African-American juveniles beat up white people because they were "easy targets," according to West Allis police. He also said he "was going along with the crowd" in the robberies that happened after the midway closed last Thursday..."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-cops-suspect-says-attacks-at-wis-state-fair-were-racially-motivated-20110812,0,4232413.story

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

I guess reading between the lines of Cal's real message is not permitted.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

How about the private companies that are sitting on large amounts of cash, and maintaining record high profits by laying people off start hiring?

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

No kidding!

But, the given reason for not hiring/investing is that consumer demand is down.

Hiring people would stimulate consumer demand, and thus be good for business as well.

Not hiring will never stimulate consumer demand, and thus the economy will stagnate.

My point was it's not Obama's responsibility to get people jobs, it's the private sector's, and they're not doing it.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Yes, unemployment benefits work similarly, but of course it's better if the private sector does it than the government.

And, if they were, we wouldn't need to be using unemployment benefits.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

It's entirely possible, if they think that a Republican president will be more business friendly.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 4 months ago

Cal has no concept of how Europeans think (and Britain does think like Europe, despite what close bedfellows Bush II and Tony Blair were.). Take a look at where he posted this column from. They tried the guns and water cannon route there and look where it got them. In the end it caused more bloodshed and loss of life than even Britain itself found acceptable. Heck, people here found it unacceptable, although that was prior to the GOTP attitude that guns were an acceptable route for everything. Cal wants to impose morals and religious (not "spiritual") codes on, not just the UK, but here as well. He wants to do this at the point of a gun. This is extremely dangerous thinking that borders on fascism, if it isn't outright fascist. All I have to say is, thank God for the First Amendment! I've always disliked Cal Thomas but this is the proof he's truly gone 'round the bend.

deec 3 years, 4 months ago

People who feel no connection to society have no allegiance to it. When politicians, celebrities, spiritual leaders and businessmen behave in depraved ways, it is foolish to assume that the rest of society will behave any better. Depravity, corruption and greed are the tools by which material success is obtained in the modern world.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 4 months ago

"....Americans have a far higher tendency towards violence than Britains." Huh. I guess that explains well over fifty years of violence and thousands of lives lost in Northern Ireland. I also suggest you research the London riots in the '80's. (And by the way, it's either "Britons" or "the British", not "Britains".) These riots are spreading to other cities, not just London. They're concentrating in areas where there are large numbers of formerly employed blue collar workers that now have nothing but the dole; Birmingham and Liverpool. Britain is a microcosm of the US and they're facing the same thing we are; a shrinking middle class, high rates of unemployment and poverty and a strong concentration of wealth in the upper 10% that just sits on it and does nothing with it but hoard it. Cal wants to solve this with enforced "morals and spirituality" (read religion) and take us back to an almost feudal society of "noble and serf" when the real solution is to provide people with work, something our so called "job creators" are singularly reluctant to part with their cash to do except in third world nations where they can pay sweat shop wages. I saw this coming down the road a long time ago when our economy switched from one that was labor intensive to one that was service intensive. When wealth concentrates so strongly in such a small percentage there are only so many jobs available to "service" those that have the money to pay for it. It makes a strange mockery of the law of "supply and demand".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

Yea, violence has always been the fool-proof cure for violence.

jaywalker 3 years, 4 months ago

Maybe not, bozo, but a shop owner standing guard with a gun so everything he owns isn't destroyed and looted doesn't sound like a bad idea.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

And instead of just property damage, there would have been numerous shootings, some of them may have been fatal, and possibly including innocent bystanders.

jaywalker 3 years, 4 months ago

I said standing guard with a gun - not shooting anyone that moves. And sorry, there are no innocent bystanders running around with a bunch of looters.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

The rate of gun violence in Britain is considerably lower than anywhere in the US, including those states with concealed carry. So your treatment would be worse than the disease you seek to cure.

jaywalker 3 years, 4 months ago

"The rate of gun violence in Britain is considerably lower than anywhere in the US,..."

Anywhere? Uh huh, sure. And the "treatment" Liberty proposed is for licensed gun owners to protect their property. What's the rate of gun violence for licensed c and c's in the U.S.?

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 4 months ago

Just like the threat of capital punishment is a deterrent for murder (in those states that actually practice it). Yeah. Right.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 4 months ago

And the threat of violence through concealed carry is not a deterrent for violence.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

If true, then it wouldn't have prevented much of this rioting, since it's mainly focused on looting and burning buildings, rather than attacking people, from what I've read.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Your post states "violence against persons went down while crimes against property went up".

Since the rioting in London is overwhelmingly made up of crimes against property, CC wouldn't have prevented it.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

If people vigilantly protect their property with their CC rights, how would property crimes increase with them in place?

The increase is evidence that they aren't doing so.

Your conclusion is at odds with your evidence - you conclude that CC would reduce property crime, while your evidence shows it has increased it instead.

Doesn't make a lot of sense.

Of course, there could be differences in culture as well, which might make any conclusions about what happens in Britain suspect.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Ok.

So setting somebody's store on fire is?

Liberty275 3 years, 4 months ago

It does a pretty good job of preventing recidivism.

Liberty275 3 years, 4 months ago

Would you break a glass and steal a TV from a store if it's owner was on the other side of the glass with a .45 pointed at your face?

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

If it was after hours, and you discovered that somebody was looting your store, would you rush there with a weapon?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

Actually, it's the wearing of clothes that does it. If everyone was naked, everyone would be peaceful and prosperous.

And my assertions are backed up by several internet sites based on the writings and rantings of dead Austrians.

chootspa 3 years, 4 months ago

Dammit. You owe me a new irony meter.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

This is quite a shock, that you would come to this conclusion, since it's very different from your usual ideas on the subject.

jafs 3 years, 4 months ago

Both.

I was just being silly, and a bit sarcastic - your analysis always concludes the same way, both as to cause and cure.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

I agree. What Britain needs is to get back to its roots of mindless, superstitious cults controlled by the monarchy.

deec 3 years, 4 months ago

The great Great Britain that subjugated most of the world to make it safe for monarchy and exploitation? The country that slaughtered the Irish and used the criminal system to forcibly deport the Irish as slave labor to the new world? That moral society? The malady they suffer from is the same deification of money that corrupts the U.S. It is racism and fear of the immigrants that practice a religion other than christianity. It is government austerity measures so that the government has funds to prop up the financial industries.

Liberty275 3 years, 4 months ago

Can you substitute "ethics" for "morals"? Morals can get pretty creepy.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 4 months ago

Looking at the responses to this article makes me despair and hope that my children just get the hell out of this country while the gettin' is good. Why? Because in the end the party with guns will be the party that will rule. They will do it by force and violence and they will rule with a cruelty and lawlessness that the rioters in Britain never even thought of approaching. Quite obviously, human life means very little to them and they will rule with the same mentality of a Colombian drug lord or a Somalian war lord. They will have every piece of technology and material comfort that money can buy and live in protected compounds where any stranger approaching will be shot on sight. Children will be pressed into service for whatever domestic labor needs they may have. In the end they too will fail and die for one reason and one reason alone. They forget that "money" is an artificial construct and mere paper and you can't eat gold. The "free market" is an artificial construct as well and means jack squat to the poor and hungry. You want to live on and keep the "fruits of your labor"? Go live on a self sustaining farm in Belize. It's the only way you will ever live without the input of others. And as you till those fields by hand and burn tallow candles and collect rain water in barrels you made from hollowed out logs, just remember; a thousand years ago you were called a "peasant" or a "serf". And you better hope that the guy one farm over doesn't have better weapons than you do to take your land.

beatrice 3 years, 4 months ago

Let me sum this up in a simplified version that internet posters can appreciate.

David Cameron is England's Prime Minister and the head of the Conservative Party. Hence, the riots in London and other English cities is Cameron's fault and the fault of conservatives. They need to get Cameron out of office.

Does anyone not believe that is the conclusion Cal would have come up with to condemn liberalism and Obama if something similar had happened in the States?

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 4 months ago

According to Cameron, Bea, "It's not the money, it's the message." I suggest you read my article on J.K. Rowling. http://walkingupstream.blogspot.com/2011/07/guest-post-woman-of-magic-personal.html I especially would like for you to read the second quote that came from the London Times. Like a lot of our own legislators and people who post on this forum, Cameron has never been poor and has no idea what it is to be poor. He doesn't know the politics of poverty. (Yes, there are politics to poverty.) More importantly, Cameron, again like many of the posters on this board, could care less about the poor and the fact that poverty, not just in third world countries, also threatens lives. This is true for the US as well as Britain. But hey! As long as they have their guns and their toys, why should they care? The poor are just those people that live off of them that they drag around like a millstone. I hear BS like that and I just want to sit there and shake my head.

beatrice 3 years, 4 months ago

That must have been one heck of a second job if it really took you out of being poor. Most second jobs tend to be low-paying positions that allow people to pay their bills rather than fall further in debt. That was my case growing up when it was necessary to do so. Good for you for finding that one, great second job.

Yep, some benefit from government programs -- like the G.I. Bill, for instance -- while others benefit from scholarships rather than paying their own way out of their own pocket for school. Those of us who aren't poor shouldn't begrudge those who need to take advantage of the various programs made available to people to help move them forward. We should instead be proud of what we can do for others in our society, although we should consider what we are doing to ensure it is helping move people forward.

In my opinion, telling people who can't find work that they should just find a second job isn't looking at the reality of today's workplace.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm glad you were able to find a second job. A lot of people these days are having a hellish time just finding their first one. Maybe you need to pay a visit to a temporary workforce center and talk to a few people doing day labor just to keep body and soul together.

deec 3 years, 4 months ago

...Not to work at nonexistent jobs. How inhumane of them.

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