So for all the rent-a-mob’s scouring the streets since Saturday causing destruction in every orifice of London’s body politic, there were equal amounts of opinion courtesy of the general public plaguing Twitter and Facebook. I say ‘was’ purely because, with the speed and frenzy into which the riots themselves, the reportage and the public furor have been whipped up, all opinions, comments and ‘breaking news’ became a bit old hat. Switch off for 10 minutes, or maybe even fall asleep, and there’s a chance you’ll have missed the entirety of it . By the time you’ve read this, you’ll have heard all the jokes – “The Kaiser Chiefs predicted this,” to the pictures on Facebook doing the rounds of some god damn thuggish youth showing off his Basmati rice, some sort of wooden spoon prize I’d imagine what with all the Nikes and plasma tellies doing the rounds. The Nando’s defence league group for everybody’s favourite chicken emporium which had been targeted by a few rioters in various areas, and that bloody Seagull video, which was clearly some sort of ‘you’ve been framed clip’ which had been resurrected from 25 years ago and placed into our viral consciousness with contextual genius.
There was also the harrowing – The scenes of the burning buildings in Tottenham and Croydon. Distressed shop owners who told tales of their pleas with the mobs to spare their livelihoods. That disturbing video which showed a normal looking Asian boy on his phone one minute, to being on the floor surrounded by the cast of Kidulthood the next, to being the helped up by said cast in a bizarre display of conscience, and back to being mugged again, with the contents of his bag being swiftly seen to as he cried his eyes out, pretty much oblivious.
This sounds very much like the ramblings of a middle class white man from the suburbs rather than a seasoned Londoner. I, like many, am sat on my high horse condemning this violence and thuggery. There aren’t many who’d link these riots with the events which were apparently the cause. Those citing a political undercurrent to all of this have been questioned too. Whilst I can understand concerns with our current government, linking queues of kids outside staff-less branches of JD sports with political motive seems laughably tenuous – Ken Livingstone, who usually offers erudite and insightful opinion against the often childish whim of Boris, looked to be all but drumming up support for Labour and against the Tory government. When the country needs clear guidance and solidarity, it’s leaders (well at one point at least) can only think about scoring points off of each other on Question Time.
To foreign countries watching these events unfold, the same thought must be going through all of their heads. This once glorious Empire, champion of two world wars, has cowered back into it’s shell, at the mercy of a few council estate muppets. Russia, Iran, maybe even China must be licking their lips…right? Perhaps. Those screaming for the army may have been right. I was one of them. Zero tolerance, stamp it out, old school. But, believe it or not, I don’t think this riotage (yep, made that word up right there) is all that bad.
Yes it’s bad, it’s deplorable. But I don’t think it’s bad for us. Us being the nervous law abiding public to which this madness has disrupted. Stick with me on this one.
Esquire ran a brilliant article this week on Osama Bin Laden, and the legacy, or lack of rather, than he’s left behind. Stephen Marche looks into Terrorists from previous eras, your Che Guevara’s and Jesse James’s, and how nearly every single terrorist has always been painted as some sort of romantic freedom fighter, fighting for some sort of comprehendible cause perhaps, if a little bit warped and twisted.
“Terrorism is the most literary of political acts. It has always relied on the poetry of optimistic despair.”
Read more: http://www.esquire.com/features/thousand-words-on-culture/osama-bin-laden-legacy-0911#ixzz1UZCyYoR6
Osama officially ended all of this, with the single greatest and barbarous act of terror in memory. After this, Marche goes on to argue, the romance with a bit of death, destruction and bombs had fizzled out. He backs this up with a few stats on various non Arab terrorist organisations and their activity since September 2001. He goes on to note the comparatively quiet capture and assassination of Osama ten years later, on May 1st 2011 – quiet in light of the enormity of the event, minus the media fanfare and the brilliant recent New Yorker article that detailed the capture and kill mission. The navy seal member who shot Bin Laden hasn’t been named, and a quiet hush it seems has been brought over terrorism once and for all.
Now this may all be a bit of naïve jingoism on my part. Wishful thinking too perhaps. But my point isn’t about terrorism at all. My point is that, with a truly disgusting and monstrous act, Osama Bin Laden took all the romanticism out of fighting for a cause. Thinking back to the events of the here and now, the riots which have plagued our capital and indeed the rest of the country, have those rioters sparred a thought to the consequences?
Now call me a fuddy duddy old man sat in his living room to be talking of consequences to actions, but with all the CCTV, all the Sky News in action reporting, does anyone think their going to get away with it all? Some will, most will. But perceptions have changed. Those you will have crossed the street to avoid in the past, you’ll really avoid now. There’ll be a picture painted by the media and there’ll be a backlash of even greater proportions perhaps. Whilst this is nothing on the scale to full blown Jihad terror-war, I’ve got a feeling that romantic undercurrent of protest and youthful aggression in the face of parliamentary injustice has fizzled too. There’s nothing but contempt now. In a way, the Tories could be as conservative as they wish in the next few years, and with full justification from the majority of the public.
If this was about an attack on a flailing government, then you’ve only gone and won them the next election. If not, then you’ve shot yourselves a bit in the foot either way I think.