Aug 13th, 2011
by F. Grey Parker
wrote hastily about the "race" of the man who was killed by London's police in the incident that lit the fuse:
"I'd like to know what they’re angry about. Mark Duggan is dead. He was shot by the police in a shootout. Duggan was in a minicab and shots were fired from both the cab and the police elsewhere. A police officer was hurt in the incident and a bullet was found lodged in a police radio. Either Duggan was shooting at the police or the driver of the minicab was. Either Duggan was in the wrong place at the wrong time and his death is a terrible tragedy – he was caught in the crossfire – or he shot at the police and the police defended themselves. Whatever the explanation, the police did not kill this man in cold blood."
First of all, she exposes a viewpoint which is actually shocking... outside of American right wing circles. The casual acceptance of official violence against people "in the wrong place" has become so common here that we in the States no longer raise much more than an eyebrow. Second of all, this sputtering and angry little rant demonstrates again why no one, either on the left or right, should rush to make political hay before the facts are established.
We now know that Duggan didn't fire any weapon, he didn't raise any weapon at police, there is no proof he made any threatening movements whatsoever and we know that the police issued false and inflammatory statements in the hours immediately following the killing. We also now know that the bullet found "lodged in a police radio" came from a police weapon, which serves to illustrate just how out of control these law enforcement officers were at the time of this lethal botch. They were so diminished by adrenaline, fear, incompetence or, perhaps, plain old blood-lust that they were firing at each other.
Whatever happened in the ensuing 12 hours, we will likely never have a truly clear picture. There were rumors of a young woman being assaulted by police during a non-violent protest outside a police station. People talk. People get riled up. People get angry. Angry people find other angry people. Once you have enough angry people, it turns into rage and then, sometimes, into insurrection. There are no easy answers. Is widespread poverty and rampant youth unemployment a legitimate topic now? Of course. Are fundamental breakdowns of social structures and traditional values also legitimate topics? Absolutely.
But, anyone who proclaims to have the explanation is deserving of nothing less than total ridicule. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Which brings me to Jonah Goldberg's observations. I saw that he had written a piece which seemed to address this very fact. At first, I was reluctantly impressed. He is correct when he begins by calling out the leftist apologists who seek to gain some traction from a catastrophe which is just not that simple.
"...they are a manifestation of human behavior, riots are as old as human nature. They were a common affair in cities before ancient Rome was new. This should invite humility in anyone purporting to know why riots happen."
Hear hear. Hats off... until a few paragraphs later.
In one of the most amazing examples of complete, myopic, gob-smacking disconnect I have seen in recent memory, Jonah moves straight from legitimately criticizing those who attempt to politically capitalize on the English riots to... making his own attempt to politically capitalize on the English riots.
"Invariably, these rationalizations amount to a license to spend ever more on the social programs that have, at the least, helped to produce the sort of “youths” who will burn homes and cars and beat people to death should the programs be even moderately curtailed." EMPHASIS MINE
This is shameful. Not only that, this is beneath honest discussion.
This is also, I fear, what we are to expect from the popular right wing media in America. Jonah is a leader of their pack. He is one of their messengers. Apparently, this is the message:
'It is wrong and manipulative to exploit the rioting in England by trying to tie it to specific political phenomena. Because "liberal fascism" is responsible.'
There has been some intelligent back and forth regarding the Duggan killing. It has been largely ignored. Maybe it just doesn't sell. If I have learned anything in my dealings with prominent pundits over the last few years it is that the only thing for which most of them are generally capable of feeling shame is the public's inattention. But, people like Goldberg don't have to worry about that as long as other, littler people are dying somewhere in riots.
I suspect that we will move on, predictably, to new horrors. We will learn nothing from this. The left will continue to blame policies they don't like. Or Cameron. Or something.The right will continue to blame policies they don't like. Or the dole. Or something.
There is one thing of which I am certain. When some American area inevitably comes apart at the seems in the near future, it will be the established, popular and commercial disrespect for the truth by all of our elites that bears some blame.