Police being overwhelmed by rioters/looters in London and other urban centers in the United Kingdom, and then the slow, timid response at first, but the now strong response authorized by their prime minister and its apparent success (although it’s not over yet at last report) made me think of the so-called race riots in the U.S. in the 1960s.
The story is really quite similar. It starts with legitimate grievances involving race relations (how minorities are treated by the authorities, police) and poverty and lack of opportunity and so on. But once things get out of hand and break into a riot, the opportunists, the lawless, the hooligans, the scum of the earth or the scum of the earth in training take over.
Destroying private property, theft (of televisions and other electronic equipment and other goods, even candy bars) is completely unjustifiable and of course ironically is counterproductive. If you destroy your own neighborhood you have no place to live. Just as bad, you create a backlash from people who are justifiably shocked at the lack of law and the disorder and the threat to safety.
Case in point:
I’m a white guy who has been fortunate enough to grow up and live in relative peace away from the urban centers. During my teenage years (and later) I watched those riots on TV and saw people looting stores and destroying property. I was outraged. I never could figure out and still cannot figure out why the authorities do not step in quicker with a much stronger response. Once things get out of hand and it is clear that local police cannot handle things, then as far as I am concerned it is time to pull out all stops and call in police from other areas and even the National Guard and even the regular military if need be. Yes that is a problem in that the military, except for Military Police, are not trained in civil policing, but they could be somewhat, and besides, drastic situations call for drastic measures. There are dangers to using raw recruits, say from the National Guard, because you can wind up with tragedies such as Kent State.
But the tragedy is that we never have made it plain that lawlessness cannot be tolerated, so we have moved from the summertime riots of the 60s to wanton drug-fueled warfare, with drive-by shootings and the rest.
Also, I would submit that the modern conservative movement and now to some extent the Tea Party are an outgrowth of 1960s-style lawlessness and disorder that so threatened normal society and so injured its psyche that it ever so gradually turned politically right. They saw the liberals make excuses for the lawbreakers — they grew up in poverty, they don’t have a chance, they are discriminated against.
And let me stop right here to clarify that I am not in any way casting aspersions upon any one race. There is a too large element in all races that use the opportunity of circumstances to justify their own lack of ambition and their own proclivity to lawlessness.
While the current riots in the United Kingdom may have had their start in an incident in which a young black man was shot by police (and he was by all accounts a criminal and the police said he fired first, but there is a question on that), the riots seem to involve people, primarily youths, of all races (hard to tell unless you have good video, because in a lot of the politically-correct print media, race is left out). And rather than protests it just seems as if it is something to do.
I have never been to the United Kingdom, but I read that most of their police do not even carry guns and there is always a controversy on whether to arm them. Their prime minister has now authorized police to use all methods at their disposal — they’re even considering “rubber bullets”, oh my God! They also are using or may use water cannon. Hey, whatever works.
No I do not suggest that they do it Syrian style and just mow people down or send in the secret police — that is not the civilized or western-democratic way to do things, to say the least.
For those who have legitimate grievances — try politics and non-violence methods — Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior had a lot of success with it (although sadly, King was brought down in the violence of a sniper’s bullet, and that violence begat even more violence).
As I have already stated, there are questions as to how much race even has to do with the riots in the UK. Some observers there say hooligans of all races are taking part. And many people there on the scene, as well as elsewhere, look at all the youngsters involved, some as young as 10 (maybe even younger), and ask, “where are the parents?”
While we all have a duty to our fellow man and we must strive for living conditions that allow hope and opportunity for all, civil society must not allow itself to be intimidated by the lawless.
On the other hand, people with legitimate grievances, grievances that are left to fester, can be expected to explode in rage at some point — but it is questionable how much the chaos in the UK has to do with unrest among otherwise law-abiding citizens and how much has to do with a troublesome element. It seems that the bad element has taken an opportunity to go on its idea of a lark.