Saturday, August 13, 2011

A good report on the British riots

This is a rather nuanced report from the riots in Great Britain. The final line says a lot:
"We need to tell the media we will not tolerate the tyranny, but we will not react either," said Harpreet Singh, 28. "We are capable, but we will not do it."
Go read the entire article form the Guardian. The story is not just some wild kids trying to steal a few TVs. It's about a few wild young guys out to riot, steal or burn but often being restrained by their friends or their families. It's about people joining the demonstrations to make a statement and yet it's about people avoiding the demonstrations because they are concerned the demonstrations will go too far. It's about people defending their own neighborhoods while looking in vain for the police who they expect to defend their neighborhoods. It's also about people who are using social media to incite the next demonstration even as others are using social media to direct the press to various incidents.

It's also about a conservative government in which politicians are reacting in both anger and ignorance to events which the politicians feel disrespects them.

There's a lot in this article that the politicians need to be aware of. The entire set of events began as an effort to send them a message that what the government was doing was not working and was not going to work. It's really about a number of communities who saw an opportunity to communicate their displeasure with the government’s policies, true, but that's only one element of the overall story. It's also simply about a number of communities and how they reacted as communities when they were threatened.

Paul Lewis of the Guardian caught a great deal that rings true from the riots that most of us around the world knows little of the British events beyond pictures on TV of shops and cars burning in the night. It's not just drunk teenagers with fire bombs, although there are some of those. It's about communities that feel they have to communicate with a government that is ignoring them and which is taking advantage of the current circumstances to do so. But it's not a bunch of hopeless dead-enders, either. It's people who expect more from their government than they have been getting.

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