On the UK Riots, Part Two

Here's the latest...

The GuardianLockdown in London, while trouble flares in Nottingham and Manchester:
A police station in Nottingham was firebombed late on Tuesday by a group of up to 40 men, police said, while there was looting in Manchester and there were tense scenes in Salford.

Canning Circus police station in Nottingham was attacked by the group but no injuries were reported, Nottinghamshire police said just after 10pm.

The force said a number of men were detained nearby.

There was also trouble in Birmingham and other parts of the West Midlands, but relative calm in London as Scotland Yard attempted to put the capital in lockdown with 16,000 police on the streets, in contrast to 6,000 on Monday.

Scotland Yard ordered its officers to use every available force including the possible deployment of plastic bullets to tackle widespread rioting and looting as the capital was flooded with the biggest police presence in British history.
The front page of The Guardian's comprehensive coverage is here.

For raw, naked ugliness of response, you won't find anything that beats this piece of contemptible shit, titled "Let Britain Burn," care of the loathsome John Derbyshire [tw for eliminationist language]: "Through British veins runs the poisonous fake idealism of 'human rights' and 'sensitivity,' of happy-clappy multicultural groveling and sick, weak, deracinated moral universalism—the rotten fruit of a debased, sentimentalized Christianity. ... I treasure my faint, fading recollections of Britain when she was still, for a few years longer, a nation. Today Britain is merely a place, a bazaar. Let it burn!" A thoughtful, measured response from an upstanding conservative.

There's an interesting bit in this AP piece, further underlining the class and generational disconnect between law enforcement and many of the rioters:
In the northwestern city of Manchester, hundreds of youths rampaged through the city center, hurling bottles and stones at police and vandalizing stores. A women's clothing store on the city's main shopping street was set ablaze, along with a disused library in nearby Salford.

Manchester assistant chief constable Garry Shewan said it was simple lawlessness.

"We want to make it absolutely clear — they have nothing to protest against," he said. "There is nothing in a sense of injustice and there has been no spark that has led to this."
I feel like I'm stating the obvious here (although this idea appears to be anything but obvious virtually everywhere the riots are being discussed), but "hundreds of youths" don't go on a "rampage" without any reason, even if that reason is simply having no incentive not to. And, truly, feeling utterly devoid of any reason to not take to the streets of your community and destroy it is a profound injustice.

That sort of collective apathy, or antipathy, particularly when marked by a stark generational divide, is indicative of a cultural failure to provide something to young people worth personally investing in. Most observers claim to see no connection between black Londoners rioting against police oppression and white Mancunian teens "rampaging for no reason," but there is an overwhelming—and evident—plume of dispossession, neglect, marginalization, purposelessness, voicelessness, disconnection from the life that Britons are supposed to have, and supposed to want, emanating from every street upon which are running rioters dismissed as incomprehensible animals.

"People are all at home—they're scared," London convenience store owner Adnan Butt is quoted as saying by the AP. Sure. Except for the people who are rioting. Who, at best, are not considered to be People Who Matter, and, at worst, are not considered to be people at all.

I keep coming back to that "disused library* in nearby Salford," and it just seems to hang there like a symbol of the plague of neglect that creeps across any nation in the shadows of robber barons who hoard bootstraps and champion austerity measures.

And I am reminded of the video to which Kevin Gosztola linked, in which teenagers from Haringey in London are interviewed by The Guardian about the closing of 13 youth clubs by the local council and express their concern about how they won't have anywhere to go and no more creative outlet, and the idleness and boredom will fuel violence between gangs set adrift.

When parents neglect their children, we (rightly) call it criminal. When governments neglect their people, well, we might call it criminal if that government is a dark-skinned warlord who's stealing food intended for his country's starving citizens. But when a "civilized" government neglects to provide choices, resources, options for meaningful work, opportunities for participation in conversations about national needs and identity, cultural inclusion, some basic sense of being valued, to its citizens, we call that "democracy," and call criminal any display of frustration, despondency, rage at that grotesque injustice.

We pretend that "almost everyone has food and can scrape by, and anyone who can't is just a shiftless waster, anyway" is good enough, and we pretend that the government and upper classes in wealthy countries aren't constantly conspiring to wage a civil war of economics and access against people living lives of quiet desperation who are accused of being irrational and crazy and savage and uncivilized by their oppressors if they have the temerity to object to their oppression, and we pretend that a sustained campaign of marginalization and denial and subjugation doesn't amount to a lifetime of abuse committed against vulnerable people by their own government.

And we pretend that a government in service to an ideal that ostracizes many citizens by virtue of poverty and others by virtue of indifference to its ostensible rewards is a functional government and not simply a tool of privileged elites.

Those pretenses are going up in smoke across the UK.


* In comments, Shaker virescence notes that the building in question is actually "the council housing office, which was converted from a former library," and details some of the "regeneration" (i.e. gentrification) measures being undertaken in Salford, making the burning of the council housing office an even more pointed symbol of neglect than if it had merely been a disused library.

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