Posted on December 12, 2011

Silly Me, I Didn’t Realise the Rioters Were Victims

Philip Johnston, Telegraph (London), December 5, 2011

Well, that didn’t take long–just four months to turn the summer rioters from the scum of the earth into victims. There we all were during those tense few days in August, glued to our TV screens as shops were looted and homes burned to the ground, misguidedly thinking that the police had lost control of the streets to a rag-tag army of opportunistic, feral criminals.

In reality, what we were witnessing was a protest by politically sophisticated, disenchanted and alienated young people driven to despair by police brutality. This, at any rate, is what we are invited to believe by a study commissioned by The Guardian, in collaboration with the London School of Economics, and published across eight pages of the newspaper yesterday under the heading “Reading the Riots”. Needless to say, the BBC ran with the story all day.

Now, there is nothing wrong with researching the causes of the worst outbreak of lawlessness in this country since the early Eighties. It is right to try to put what happened into context, since so many of us were shocked and angered. But the Left has been desperate to seize back what it likes to call the “narrative” of these riots, which was hijacked early on by the law-abiding majority who just happened to witness most of it.

As the mess was cleared up, and a motley procession of ne’er-do-wells appeared before the courts for a taste of condign punishment that the rest of us cheered to the rafters, the Left seethed with indignation. Since the fires were still smouldering and the funerals of those who died had yet to take place, its spokesmen were unable to line up their usual excuses for bad behaviour: deprivation, poverty, hopelessness–and, of course, police brutality. Nor could they trot out the previously unsuccessful remedies: more money, intervention, community penalties–anything but punishment.

However, they also knew that if they could bide their time, there might be another story to tell; and sure enough “Reading the Riots” provides it. All those dreadful, white, middle-class, Right-wing moralisers were wrong: gang culture was not to blame; the rioters weren’t mostly black; they weren’t an underclass: in fact, many were surprisingly political, but found it hard to articulate their grievances without chucking a brick through a shop window or stealing a TV set.

Yes, they saw the riots as the chance to obtain “free stuff”–you know, what most of us would refer to as “theft”. As one Guardian columnist put it: “The impression of unclaimed chaos and the shots of burning cars, devastated shopkeepers and hooded youth lent credibility to claims that this was nothing more than young hooligans running amok.” But this was not mindless yobbery; it was “civil unrest” and could therefore be seen in class terms.

Of course, those of us who naively sought to place the riots in an ethical context never considered that the causes might be a complex mixture of motives. We are obviously far too stupid. It suits the Left to caricature the majority response at the time as Blimpish outrage so that it can redirect the argument back on to its own, threadbare turf. And what did it find at the root of the rioters’ anger with society? You guessed it–a pathological dislike of the police.

The irony here is that everyone blames the police. Most of us were furious that they stood back when the trouble kicked off in Tottenham and let every thief and thug in London–and later in Manchester, Birmingham and elsewhere–think they could loot with impunity. But the reason they adopted these tactics was precisely because, ever since the Brixton riots in 1981, they have had to police what we are supposed to refer to as “communities” with kid gloves.

Yet it transpires that all the efforts to engage, reach out and understand have been spurned and that they are still unpopular. The researchers interviewed 270 people who took part in the riots, a majority of whom had not been arrested but who were guaranteed anonymity. Alex, 32, who set fire to a police car in Tottenham on the night the disturbances began was asked why he did it. “It was the police car–I know what they stand for. I hate the f——police.” I wonder why? Might it be because his criminal propensities had brought him to their attention and he had been routinely stopped and searched?

Since the Scarman report, the police have bent over backwards to avoid the sort of heavy-handedness that triggered the Brixton riots. Yet a bunch of wide-eyed researchers with clipboards and an agenda have discovered that people who regularly break the law and who are ready at the drop of a hat to head out into the summer night for a spot of mayhem don’t like the police very much. Well, I never. One rioter told the researchers, presumably while struggling to keep a straight face: “The police is the biggest gang out there.” If only.

Let’s remember who the real victims of the riots were: the storekeepers whose properties were ransacked; the old man beaten to death in a west London street; the foreign student mugged by youths he thought were helping him; the owners of the 150-year-old family furniture store who watched it burn to the ground; and, despite all the criticism they have faced for letting the riots spread, the bruised and bloodied police officers who put their necks on the line to contain the trouble when it threatened to get completely out of control.

Yesterday’s report purported to have uncovered broader explanations for the behaviour of the rioters. I will stick with my narrow, simplistic, evidently absurd, and doubtless antediluvian interpretation that a bunch of criminally inclined hoodlums took the opportunity to loot, pillage and rob because they enjoyed doing it and thought they could get away with it.

14 responses to “Silly Me, I Didn’t Realise the Rioters Were Victims”

  1. GenX ANZAC says:

    If you defend evil, then you are the enemy of the virtuous.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The British Military used to have a standard their martial bands would play when they lost a battle or some sort of catastrophe. It was a piece of music called, “The World Turned Upside Down.” As this article demonstrates, it ought to replace “God Save the Queen,” and “England Forever.”

    (That martial song was played at Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown).

  3. Former Seattle Resident says:

    Congolese rioted in London the other day…

    Charity carol concert attacked by Congo protesters – Telegraph

    Shops were attacked, passers-by threatened and car windows smashed during a demonstration in central London against the election result in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The carol concert was raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support. It was organised by a group of friends whose loved ones had been treated for cancer.

    Masked teenage boys ‘stormed’ the singers, throwing bottles of water and hot drinks into the crowd. A woman in her 40s, said to be undergoing treatment for breast cancer, was pulled to the ground. A youth attempted to set light to the Christmas tree, an annual gift from the city of Oslo since 1947, one witness said.

    “They were determined not to let us sing and have fun and utterly ruined the atmosphere. Have your protest and make your point, but why did you have to ruin a lovely occasion with your scuminess,” Mark Horton, a conductor of the choir, wrote in a message online. The concert was cut short amid safety concerns.

    The attack was ‘egged on’ by teenage girls who screamed and shouted “like the possessed”, another witness said.”

  4. Jeddermann. says:

    “a bunch of criminally inclined hoodlums took the opportunity to loot, pillage and rob because they enjoyed doing it and thought they could get away with it.”

    There it is in the nutshell. Just a plain old ordinary bunch of bad old people doing a lot of plain old ordinary bad things and enjoying doing so.

    And the police have been criticized for not doing enough sooner. The paradigm has been for many decades that you DO NOT STOP A RIOT. YOU MERELY CONTAIN AND AFTER THREE DAYS IT WILL STOP SPONTANEOUSLY. That did not happen in England and the riots spread because the villains say they COULD do what they wanted.

  5. Anonymous says:

    In the interests of fairness they should send they rioters back to where they and their families’ original country. That way the British autorities will not be able to victimize them anymore.

  6. Question Diversity says:

    Related news: Ian Duncan Smith, in the Odd Couple cabinet, blames the X-Factor TV show, soccer players and celebs for the riots.

    That goes to show how much I know. I thought all along that young blacks were responsible.

  7. NBJ says:

    And here we have Emma West sitting in prison because she objects to these very thugs destroying her Britian. I read a lot of comments on that You Tube clip of her, and the threats and name calling were so vulgar, my heart broke for her. And this from the very people who were condeming HER language. It seems in Britain, up is down and down is up.

  8. Dave says:

    I will stick with my narrow, simplistic, evidently absurd, and doubtless antediluvian interpretation that a bunch of criminally inclined hoodlums took the opportunity to loot, pillage and rob because they enjoyed doing it and thought they could get away with it.


    Close, but no. The root cause is that the ancestors of the criminally inclined hoodlums were allowed to settle in a country in which they did not belong and in which they could not rise beyond the bottom crust of society. Jealousy, resentment, and rage are normal and predictable human reactions when a group controls a disproportionately small amount of the resources within a given area. I don’t excuse any individual act of mischief or vandalism but the problem was foreseeable and avoidable.

    Blame a British government that insists that Jamaicans and Black Africans can be seamlessly incorporated into British society. That is the crux of the problem.

  9. Dave says:

    You may not have heard about this, but over the weekend 143 people were arrested on account of a violent riot which took place in Central London. The rioters were protesting in Central London on account of an election result in the (so called) Democratic Republic of Congo, in ….uh ….. Central Africa.

    You may not have heard about this as much of the mainstream media appear to have taken a vow of silence over the story, as they always do when events like this cast an unattractive light on their beloved multicultural society.

    One can only imagine how differently events would have been reported had a mere 43 white people been arrested for rioting in the nations capital. Their trials would have been daily news fodder for weeks!

    Also, as with similar events in the past one has to question why people feel London is an appropriate place to protest against events in third world hell holes which were never even a British colony. It seems that another blessing bestowed by mass immigration is that we must now suffer the unpleasant consequences of events many thousands of miles from our shores.

    Sarah maid of Albion

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  10. sbuffalonative says:

    Standard Marxist game plan. Re-define the events to fit your narrative which then becomes the historic record.

    We get the same thing here in the US when blacks participate in smash and grabs, unprovoked attackers, flash mobs, etc.; the ‘youth’ were just venting their frustration at systemic and economic racism.

    The truth is mundane. These are thugs and criminals looking for chances to practice their life skills.

  11. rjp says:

    In England, as in America, it is going to be up to the people to put an end to this as the governments have no intention of doing so, only making excuse and further taxing those who produce to give to the boils on the ass of society.

  12. NBJ says:

    It’s being reported in the British press that Emma West has been granted bail. I’m thrilled for her, but hope she is taking precautaions for her safty. No word if her children will be returned to her, but if not, that is the next fight Nationalist!

  13. Seek says:

    Ian Duncan Smith thinks like Irving Kristol rather than Enoch Powell. “The culture did it” long has served as a convenient Religious Right/neocon explanation for black urban destruction. By denouncing mass media, critics on the Right can feel conservative without having to worry about being labeled “racist.”

    Earth to conservatives: Race and culture are inseparable. And black culture, not simply “the culture,” lay behind the rioting. The root cause of black riots, ever and always, is blacks.

  14. margaret says:

    I sometimes watch BBC world news in the mornings. This mornings news was typical. In Leige Belgium a man killed a woman he lived with and then went down to the shopping center and killed and wounded several others. No name given. BBC did show his picture, not a Belgian, some sort of Arab or Turk and African mulatto. Reason given for the killings was his bad relations with the woman he killed

    In Florence Italy an Italian nationalist went to a shopping center and shot several African invaders. BBC went on and on about the evil Italian racist and his evil thoughts and associates. I had to turn it off as the newscasters interviewed various hideous blacks yacking about how the Italians had to accept them. Those black faces are not what one wants to see that early in the morning.