Tuesday, 9 August 2011
I, like everyone else I know, have been watching the news with increasing horror. As London burns, I feel that there is nothing else I can do this other than sit and look horrified. And feel a deep, abiding sense of shame.
I am ashamed that as I start to write this, David Cameron has only just come back from holiday. Where has our government been? Do they have such little regard for our country that they feel they can all go on holiday at the same time and hope for the best? I work in a tiny little office and even we can manage a holiday rota. No Prime Minister, no Deputy Prime Minister, no Home Secretary, no Mayor of London, no Leader of the Opposition, no Deputy Leader of the Opposition. As the mob rises, there needs to be strong leadership. I have nothing but distrust and dislike of our coalition government, but here the opposition is to blame as well.
I am ashamed the Metropolitan Police, who seem to do nothing but take bribes from News International, shoot young black men in suspicious circumstances, and kettle students. It's almost like there are gaping holes in their leadership as homes and businesses burn.
I am ashamed of living in a state and society that has created angry young men – I have yet to see any proof that the rioters and looters are anything but angry young men – who are so completely disaffected. Angry young men who believe society owes them something, and can no longer see any way of expressing their unhappiness and rage other than through illegality and theft.
I am ashamed that this is apparently how we protest. These are not mindless thugs – they may be thugs, but they have thoughts and feelings too – but the violence is mindless. This is not a political protest for freedom. This is a riot of vengeance, of running through streets that they feel have betrayed them and damn the consequences, because there isn't an understanding of consequences any more. This is not Tahrir Square. This is a London phenomenon, like the Gordon Riots of over a century ago, born of rage and unspecified grudges and flame, not of thought.
And I am ashamed of myself. I am ashamed that I am not educated enough to talk through the issues properly, and instead have to talk vaguely while desperately reading and tying myself in liberal knots. I am ashamed because I am afraid for friends and family, and I am giving in to that more than I should be, and no longer fully contemplating the motives of the rioters. I am ashamed that possibly this is inarticulate, and simply adds to an overwhelming noise of bloggers already talking about this, but my god, I need to say something.
I hope that something good can come of this, but I am afraid that there is no good to come from this at all.
Useful BBC site.