It has taken a mass mobilisation of the police, a sudden move towards what looks like instant justice and the usual soundbites and mealy-mouthed proclamations, but it finally appears that the spate of urban unrest and looting – or this phase of it at least – is over. As the dust is beginning to settle on the broken streets of England’s cities, who or what to focus our attention on is beginning to dominate the political agenda. As usual, nobody can seem to agree on anything – which is somewhat dangerous in that if no agreement cannot be found at this stage, there is little hope for any satisfactory solution. While Prime Minister David Cameron has followed popular wisdom in focussing on the looters and rioters themselves, leader of the opposition Ed Miliband has decided to widen the scope by blaming last week’s madness on money-grabbing bankers and dishonest MPs.
“Mr Miliband will use a speech at his old school – Haverstock School in Chalk Farm, north London, close to where some of the rioting took place on Monday night – to suggest it is not just the bottom of society that is to blame, but examples set by people with money and power as well. He will single out bankers’ pay and MPs’ expenses as instances of the breakdown in standards which have seen ‘greed, selfishness and immorality’ become the norm”.
While there is no doubt that Miliband makes a good general point about greed, selfishness and immorality, in the context of the sort of urban looters that swarmed through many of England’s cities last week such an analysis is irrelevant, if not completely redundant. Yes, these young people have indeed been subjected to standards where “greed, selfishness and immorality” have become the norm, but to suggest these attitudes have been filtered down from the actions of house-swapping MPs and unscrupulous bankers is an argument that is more rooted in ideology than reality.
The youngsters that were out in force on the streets of Tottenham, Peckham, Croydon and Ealing were not there on account of having read some story about Peter Viggers‘ duck house or the collapse of Northern Rock; they were they because they could be. They were there because they have no concept of value – save their own warped idea of what constitutes “respect” – and a complete hatred of authority. These are people that “read” Heat and watch those tedious hip-hop “music” channels on satellite television that their defenders believe that they cannot afford, loud-mouthed, pidgin-speaking youths with no concept of discipline and no care for education. Entitled little shits who believe that it is their divine right to get something for nothing: either to be handed a job where they can take the piss as they see fit, or worse still to claim benefit and spend a life impregnating/getting impregnated by each other and hanging around on street corners with their jeans hanging around their ankles.
By suggesting that the actions of the looters were in some way motivated by the actions of MPs and bankers, Miliband is making the tacit assumption that these people either read or watch the news. I don’t think so, Eddy: many of those who were caught rioting were out in the streets not for any political reason, but simply because they wanted to have fun and grab the opportunity to – quite literally – grab a bargain. One does not make a political statement against anybody – be it the government, crooked bankers or house-swapping MPs – by nicking a plasma screen television from Currys or a pair of trainers from Foot Locker, and having a grudge against bankers and MPs does not make one wear one’s trousers around one’s thighs, clad oneself in “bling” or grunt like some constipated gibbon.
Some of the young people who were interviewed during the blanket news coverage last week complained that they didn’t have a job – well ask yourself this: if you were an employer and some slack-jawed, mouth-breathing moron who couldn’t string a sentence together in proper English asked you for a job, would you happily offer it to them? Or would you be harbouring some back-of-the-throat fear that they might do a runner with the office PC? Come on, be honest here. Would you really want to employ some vapid, teeth-kissing, gum-chewing, bling-clad imbecile and trust them to engage with your valued customers? Like hell you would.
So here’s my challenge to the Milibands and Guardianistas of this world: rather than prattling on about this self-excluded section of society not having jobs, why don’t you give them one yourself? Rather than employing polite, middle-class students or pretty young Eastern European girls in the hip coffee bars and street-corner cafés you frequent, try building a team of LeQuishas, Shakiras and Chardonnays. Then watch as your ivory-tower dwelling, skinny jeans-wearing, man-bag wielding, Guardian-reading, hypocritical customers run a merry mile when they receive a moronic slack-jawed gawp in response to their complaint about their skinny latte being a little bit too cold – all before they log onto blogs like mine and complain at what a mean and nasty Daily Mail-reading (lol) fascist bastard I am.
Ya get me?
David Cameron on the other hand – on the face of it at least – provides what I think is a fairly accurate summation:
“We must fight back against the attitudes that have brought parts of our society to this shocking state. Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences. Children without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort. Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities. Communities without control.”
I cannot disagree with any of the above; the more difficult question is just how this “fight” is to be undertaken. It is no longer good enough to work on a wholly consensual basis: a cancer, after all, is not removed by massaging it and offering soothing words to the patient. While even twenty years ago it may have been possible to dilute these attitudes using more consensual methods, today the task is far harder. One cannot teach the fatherless how to be fathers, nor can one encourage a willingness to learn in those who have been brought up to believe that mocking and bullying the educated garners “respect”; these attitudes – the irresponsibility, the selfishness, the lack of discipline, the sense of entitlement – are not mere surface scratches that can be polished away but deep gouges inculcated at birth. An entire generation has been born into and brought up in this social cesspool: there is a canker in our society that needs to be treated and, if necessary, extirpated. It is no good simply treating the boil; it needs to be cauterised.
Some of the most enlightening pieces I have read this week (one here) concern the discussion on the BBC’s Newsnight programme involving the historian David Starkey, who if he keeps things up looks like becoming Britain’s answer to Thilo Sarrazin. I pretty much said the same thing some twenty years ago in an essay on urban street culture, the Rodney King case and the Los Angeles riots – and predicted that this phenomenon would make its way over the Atlantic and find a home in our very own inner cities. It would have been fairly easy to stamp out this transatlantic cultural invasion at that stage, but the argument that it was “only” music and “cultural self-expression” allowed it to weave insidiously into the fragile fabric of urban and inner-city life. Such is its toxicity that its influence went well beyond its intended target – hence the rapid development of a white (and Asian) underclass that over the course of a generation adopted the lifestyle, attitudes and mores of an artificial cultural and social phenomenon that is utterly alien to both this country and standard codes of civilised behaviour.
Having decided to take a bold dip into this murky pool, Starkey found himself being drowned in a semantic soup by using the term “black culture” – something that he was predictably pulled up on. Of course, everyone – including those in the studio who spent all their time trying to talk over him – knew full well what he meant by this. “Black culture” is catch-all term, shorthand for “urban, gangland, inner-city, street attitudes proliferated by a particular group of misogynistic, violent, nihilisitic uneducated black males”; Starkey sure as hell wasn’t talking about “black culture” in the context of the historic settlements of Timbuktu or the herding skills of the Masai warrior. At the very most the plummy old queen was lazy in that he chose not to waste his and everybody else’s time stating the bleeding obvious.
In my view there’s nothing remotely “racist” about highlighting the moral paucity of this so-called “culture”, in much the same way as there is nothing remotely “racist” about highlighting the issue of honour killings or the ritual slaughter of animals in Islam; I am certain that there are many black people who share David Starkey’s despair, particularly those people who may have seen sons, daughters, brothers or sisters caught up in last week’s violence. Black academic (for this, read “coconut”, “Uncle Tom”, or whateva da niggaz want to call him this week) Tony Sewell, while not exactly a fan of Starkey, offers the following:
“Despite the attempts of some apologists to dress up the looting as a political act against an oppressive Tory establishment, the fact is that the ethos of materialism — or ‘bling’ to use the street term — that pervades urban black youth played a major part in the widespread criminality perpetrated by rioters of all races.
That is why the looters targeted specific stores that are cherished in this culture, such as those selling mobile phones, trainers, sports clothes or widescreen TVs. Let’s face it, there were no reports of the vandals looting bookshops or public libraries.
What motivated the troublemakers was not genuine poverty but rather a raw acquisitiveness that is fuelled by so much in this black-led youth culture, from the imagery in rap videos to the lyrics of hip-hop music. The twin central themes of this world are sex and material possessions.
It is a milieu that glories in loose women and fast cars, in macho dominance and easy wealth. Concepts of restraint, hard work and personal responsibility are absent. Respect is something to be demanded rather than earned.
So much of the music and the video output is close to pornographic, with women degradingly treated as little more than sex objects. In this world, the highest ideal to which a man can aspire is to be a philandering, gun-wielding gang leader”.
(Tony Sewell, Don’t howl Starkey down. Gangsta culture is a poison spreading among youths of all races, Daily Mail, 15th August 2011)
In the rest of his piece Sewell makes some excellent points, though I would correct him over his suggesting that Starkey said that Enoch Powell was “right”:
“As Dr Starkey should know, what Powell predicted on our streets were race riots, but the recent looting was nothing of the sort. The violence was not perpetrated by one ethnic group against another. There was no racial dimension to the targets of the attacks. Asian, white and black shopkeepers and businesses all came under assault, while many of the criminal gangs, especially outside London, were multi-ethnic”.
Just by watching the video you can see that Starkey in fact clearly breaks with Powell in making this clear distinction:
“His [Powell’s] prophecy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber didn’t foam with blood but flames lambent, wrapped ’round Tottenham and wrapped ’round Clapham. But it wasn’t inter-communal violence; this is where he was completely wrong. What’s happened is that substantial section of the Chavs … have become black”.
I suppose Sewell didn’t see the entire discussion, and was instead provided with the BBC’s specially-edited version:
“His [Powell’s] prophecy was absolutely right … Flames lambent, wrapped ’round Tottenham and wrapped ’round Clapham. … Black”.
The problem we have is that those who have the power to influence are just not willing or able to step over the line and say what needs to be said; when someone like David Starkey does step over this line, he is lampooned by the left-wing media, the BBC and… Piers Morgan. instead of seeing any real attempt to get to the cause of the canker, we are presented with the same old tired barrage of excuses. There is no education. There are no jobs. There is no hope. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Yawn.
Rather than disappearing to concoct yet another socialist panacea, Starkey’s critics and the rest of the looter-apologists should instead be tied down and forced to endure a non-stop barrage from one of those infernal hip-hop “music” channels. A veritable cacophony replete with epilepsy-inducing images of chrome-rimmed Bentleyz and Hummerz, gunz, drugz, dollar billz and groups of women with obscenely large derrières gyrating suggestively. Ugly-looking males with poor fashion sense machine-gunning incomprehensible lyrics and waving their hands and arms about like demented chimpanzees. I would challenge them not to be pulling their eyeballs out within the hour: liberate me ex inferis.