London Burning: 'Do You Condone The Violence?'
Amitava Kumar points to a youtube that has been doing the rounds since yesterday on Facebook, a video they say "the BBC will never replay":
Again, from Amitav Kumar on Twitter: And here he is as a younger man
Anti-Immigration campaign 1970s Britain
And then there was the Indian connection, via Sangat TV channel, whose camera man helped the cops to chase the looters down the stree -- leading to the arrest of 4 men:
Jonathan Freedland, in the Guardian, on 2011, the year the news refused to stop: Arab Spring, the financial crisis, phone hacking and now riots -- when "we realised our democratically elected leaders can no longer protect us: Where once we may have felt rage, now we can feel only impotence:
The most unsettling reports have been of policemen standing back, apparently powerless to stop people as they smash and burn and steal. It's deeply unnerving to see those we expect to protect us incapable and in retreat. Read the comment threads and Twitter feeds, with their demands that "this must stop", or even for looters to be "shot on sight", and you see the signs of impotent rage, the desperate desire for somebody to do something.
Nina Power in the Guardian on the context to the riots in London that cannot be ignored:
The policies of the past year may have clarified the division between the entitled and the dispossessed in extreme terms, but the context for social unrest cuts much deeper. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan last Thursday, where it appears, contrary to initial accounts, that only police bullets were fired, is another tragic event in a longer history of the Metropolitan police's treatment of ordinary Londoners, especially those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and the singling out of specific areas and individuals for monitoring, stop and search and daily harassment.
And a reaction from the right, another blog-post that did the rounds on Twitter, Katharine Birbalsingh in the Telegraph:
Ken Livingstone blames everything from Thatcher to the Conservatives to lack of youth clubs. Darcus Howe is comparing our riots to Syria’s! I look on in horror at our BBC reporters, as well as ordinary people being interviewed on TV, as they all chant the usual mantra without even thinking: cuts, cuts, cuts. A man whose shop had been looted met Nick Clegg on the street, clearly distressed, and rather than blame the looters, he attacked the Deputy Prime Minister over the cuts. What is wrong with everyone? Have we been brainwashed by aliens?
Even the sensible people (and there have been a few) refuse to denounce ALL of the violence. Brixton, Croydon, Birmingham are bad, but Tottenham somehow was ‘understandable’. Come again? You mean sometimes looting and violence are acceptable? Apparently, the Tottenham riots are understandable because the police shot Mark Duggan (father of four, according to the Guardian). Do we really think that the police went out and killed a random innocent man?...
These criminals are responsible for their behaviour but so are their parents who sit at home, knowing their children are out there, looking forward to the goodies their children will bring home. I am so angry, so ashamed, so utterly dismayed. The vast majority of these criminals are black. No one will say it. I hang my head in shame, both as a black person and as a teacher
And on Twitter, at first it may seem like trivialising a serious issue, but beneath it all there was anger, frustration, helplessness:
Pankaj Mishra says London’s Rioters Are Thatcher’s Grandchildren and concludes:
Over the years I have felt a sneaking sympathy for those lower-middle-class British Muslims in long pious beards or headscarves who resist assimilation into what they see as a godless culture of greed and consumption. Their stern notions of morality in public and private life are not mine. But, as the rioters pursue the logic of laissez-faire into pure nihilism, I know I’d feel much safer in a mosque in Kashmir than on the streets of Tower Hamlets.
Uri Friedman in the Atlantic Wire: It's a Pattern: London Rioters Are Leaving Bookstores Untouched:
While the rioters in England this week have looted shops selling shoes, clothes, computers, and plasma televisions, they've curiously bypassed one particular piece of merchandise: books. The Economist observes that while rioters have a centuries-old history of book burning, "books are losing out to high-end jeans and Apple-made gadgets" in London, with the Waterstone's bookstore chain emerging unscathed and the WH Smith chain reporting only one incident (some stores closed as a precaution).
Huma Qureshi and Mark Sweney have more on the Sangat TV in the Guardian:
Randhawa bluntly asked questions many want answers to. He also unashamedly voiced out loud what many might have been thinking anyway: "This is a shame for us as a nation and as a country. We are trying to protect Afghanistan and Iraq and all the other countries from the warzones, but we cannot protect ourselves."...
Reporting from Southall on Wednesday morning, Sangat TV's daytime presenter, who also holds a day job as a solicitor, thanked viewers for the messages of support. He said: "We're not on a big budget. Just two people with two cameras. We dare to get down into the scenes where no one else bothered to get down to. England is my country and I love this country. This is about the whole community."
Who are the rioters? Young men from poor areas ... but that's not the full story, says the Guardian:
In the broadest sense, most of those involved have been young men from poor areas. But the generalisation cannot go much further than that. It can't be said that they are largely from one racial group. Both young men and women have joined in.
Sangat TV hunted down rioters in Birmingham, confronted police during running battles, and broadcast live footage of arrests on Sky TV.
As the Guardian put it, its "bizarre form of guerilla journalism... proved the most captivating coverage of the riots that have swept England" as it "prised viewers away from broadcasting goliaths such as the BBC and CNN".
The youtube compilations are thanks to Guardian:
1. Driver-cum-presenter, "Mr Singh", berates police in Birmingham during a tense stand off with rioters
2. A protester being arrested:
3. The roving Sangat TV car follows looters as police form a barricade across the road:
4. The presenters give police officers a lift as they chase rioters:
5. Broadcasting yards from a smouldering car:
During the interview yesterday, studio-based Armstrong said: ''You are not a stranger to riots yourself I understand, are you? You have taken part in them yourself.''
But Howe, speaking from the aftermath of the disturbances in Croydon, responded: ''I have never taken part in a single riot. I've been part of demonstrations that ended up in a conflict.
''Stop accusing me of being a rioter and have some respect for an old West Indian Negro, because you wanted for me to get abusive. You just sound idiotic - have some respect.''
John Henley in the Guardian:
The UK riots and language: 'rioter', 'protester' or 'scum'?: The BBC drew a small storm of criticism for the word it initially used to describe the people taking part in this week's trouble
Sunny Singh takes on the culture of entitlement and the 'larger context':
There is of course a larger context to the current violence. And no, unlike this piece - unsurprisingly in the Guardian - this is also not about the cuts or simplistic policing issues. This larger context is about a generation brought up to believe that the world owes them everything: Nike shoes, HD flat screen televisions, but also good grades, jobs, and oh yes, the recently bandied about word, "a future" without ever having to actually plan or work for it themselves. Yes, I am not just referring to the council estate 'alienated' youth but the larger contemporary reality in many parts of this country.
RT @MishalHusainBBC: Continuing to look at world reaction to riots. Official Libyan news agency says David Cameron has lost legitimacy and 'must go'. .. while Chinese media focusing on what this means for the Olympics & need to control 'local angry youth'. Via BBC Monitoring
Via @saliltripathi: Amit Chaudhuri's 2006 poem: On constantly mishearing 'rioting' as 'writing' on the BBC.
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