Gerald Warner: Pass the Kleenex – we’re the victims of the ‘victimhood culture’
THE report of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel, established to investigate last year’s riots in England, was published last week and its conclusions are just what we expected.
The violence and destruction were caused by lack of opportunities for young people, “poor parenting”, a failure of the justice system to rehabilitate offenders, suspicion of the police and materialism.
The report also unearths 500,000 “forgotten families”, demands earlier and better support for “troubled families”, a “Youth Job Promise” to get more youngsters into work and regular assessments of school pupils’ strength of character. The document ticks virtually every box on the politically correct charter of victimhood; unfortunately, the market for sentimental representation of criminals as victims, of “social exclusion” as the root cause of criminality, of young people as being brimful of potential but cruelly betrayed by the rest of society, has dried up. Nobody outside Broadcasting House, Islington and the Guardian’s editorial offices believes any of that bovine by-product any more. At the time of the disturbances, public opinion was sharply divided between crucifixion and castration as the appropriate sanction for rioters; there is no sympathy for this moral detritus.
The facts of the situation, acknowledged in the panel’s report, speak for themselves. The riots lasted for five days and involved between 13,000 and 15,000 participants across 66 areas, causing more than £500 million worth of damage. There were 1,860 incidents of arson or criminal damage, 1,649 burglaries, 141 acts of disorder and 366 assaults. Of those brought to court, 90 per cent were already known to the police, the overwhelming majority had previous convictions and at least 84 of them had each committed 50 or more previous offences. This was criminality, pure and simple; there are no grounds for misrepresenting it as some kind of spontaneous eruption of anger against the police, or lack of opportunities, or any of the other alibis invoked by liberals.
Five people “lost their lives”, in the coy phraseology of the report, as if they had somehow mislaid their own existence; in fact they were murdered by callous thugs. “There appears to be a link between deprivation and rioting,” claims the report. Yes; and an inventory of the items looted shows that the rioters felt chiefly deprived of plasma screen televisions and modish trainers. To co-ordinate their access to these, they used the internet, BlackBerry Messenger and other expensive devices. Poor people do not possess or covet such things: their priorities are food and shelter.
The panel claims (better have the Kleenex to hand for this one): “The absence of hope and dreams amongst many we spoke to is a danger for society.” This kind of sociobabble has no audience nowadays. The young thugs who rioted destroyed the hopes and dreams of their hard-working neighbours, the decent people whose striving they despised. Hopes and dreams have to be earned. What does the panel imagine is the point of penalising schools if pupils leave unable to read or write, when it also testifies that children brought before the courts truanted for an average of one day a week? When teachers have no discipline, no sanctions and are faced by feral youths imbued with a culture of “rights”, how are they supposed to educate them?
“Poor parenting” is another problem highlighted in the report. What parenting? Few of the offenders had fathers at home. All political parties have aggressively undermined the family for decades, have refused to recognise marriage in the tax system and are currently promoting legislation to subvert it further – and suddenly “poor parenting” is being lamented. As for a “Youth Job Promise”, that would be yet another expensive attempt to “create” jobs for the unemployable at taxpayers’ expense. You may be confident, too, that the 500,000 “forgotten families” have not been forgotten by the benefits system. “Troubled families” are mainly trouble for their neighbours.
The scale of last August’s riots and the impotence of the police – more accustomed to pursuing “hate” crime than maintaining order – frightened the political class. That is why 70 per cent of convicted looters were jailed, compared with the small percentage normally given custodial sentences for plundering shops. In North and East London on 8 and 9 August it was vigilantes that saw off the rioters: people of modest means but strong aspirations who confronted the pseudo-deprived and reclaimed their streets. The rioters whom the panel chairman claims need a “stake in society” (a stake through the heart, in the view of vox populi) have had access to free education and a womb-to-tomb benefits system that has bred a sense of entitlement as arrogant as that of any Coalition Cabinet minister. The drivel produced by the Riots Communities and Victims Panel deserves a good home in a convenient dustbin. «
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Monday 20 May 2013
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