When you read this kind of thing in a newspaper, it’s bad. But when you read it at cricinfo …:
The riots and looting in Birmingham were copycat incidents following events in London over the previous days. The vandalism was concentrated around the city centre, with masked young men and women going on a rampage from early evening, looting shops and destroying property.
They started by snatching mobile phones and handbags from pedestrians, followed by kicking, punching, breaking windows of shopping centres, banks, pubs, restaurants, forcing people to shut down these establishments. Groups of two or three suddenly grew larger and created an atmosphere of panic and fear. Through the evening and night riot police were on the main streets, armoured police vehicles and other cars scanned the roads, and a helicoper hovered overhead.
The headline above this says: “Test likely to begin despite riots”.
One of the more depressing things about these riots is the way that the only thing that the Police can think of to say to us non-looters and non-arsonists is: “Don’t join in” and “Let us handle it”. If the bad guys start to torch your house, let them get on with it. If they attack your next door neighbour, don’t join in on his side. Run away. Let the barbarians occupy and trash whatever territory they pick on and steal or destroy whatever property they want to.
There was a fascinating impromptu TV interview with some young citizens of Clapham last night, not “experts”, just regular citizens, one of whom stated the opposite policy. Law abiding persons should get out of their houses, he said, en masse, and be ready to defend them.
The trouble with “letting the Police do their job” is that in the precise spot in which you happen to live, or used to live, their job probably won’t start, if it ever does start, for about a week. In the meantime, letting the Police do their job means letting the damn looters and arsonists do their job, without anyone laying a finger on them, laying a finger on them being illegal. This is a doomed policy. If most people are compelled by law to be only neutral bystanders in a war between themselves and barbarism, barbarism wins. The right to, at the very least, forceful self defence must now be insisted upon. The Police, as we advocates of the don’t-disarm-the-victims-of-crime policy have been pointing out for decades, can’t be everywhere. They cannot instantaneously attend every crime, and magically prevent it. Only the potential or actual victims of crime can sometimes immediately prevent or immediately punish crime, provided only that they are not forbidden to.
Unlike L.A., there are no Korean shopkeepers with AR-15s to help contain the looting.
The best thing about these riots is that they have distilled and aggregated the folly of the “let the Police see to it” policy into a large and combined event, and they have done it right next door to where our political class lives. These riots are not confined to Birmingham, or some such second-tier city. They are happening in the backyard of our rulers, even as they hurry back home from Tuscany.
For the last few decades the don’t-get-involved, let-Them-handle-it policy has applied only to more isolated crimes, or to riots only way beyond our capital city, which has meant that its doomed nature has impacted only upon those individuals or local populations attacked by criminals, not on the nation as a whole as perceived and lived in by those ruling it. Now our rulers can see this policy in vividly dramatic “action” (i.e. inaction), live on TV, and near enough to where they live for them to be scared, along with everyone else. And the rest of us will see them turning into the kind of vengeful right wing monsters they despise, as soon as their own houses are attacked. Which they well might be.
I recall reading about a yob who stole something from a street stall in Nigeria, many years ago. He was promptly set upon by a mob, of stallholders and their customers, and beaten up. Are you civilised? It depends which side your mobs are on. All our mobs, except the little mobs that are the Police, are anti-civilisation.
I own a cricket bat, inherited from my late Uncle Guy (whom I wrote about towards the end of this ancient blog posting), with “G Micklethwait” written on it. I hope I don’t find myself thinking about using it during the next few days, but I have already checked where it is.