Thankfully, last night saw no repetition of the mass looting that took place in London and a number of other English cities over the previous couple of nights. Watching events unfold over the various media – TV, radio, blogs and Twitter – was a truly horrific experience, especially seeing Reeves Corner in Mrs Tree’s home town go up in flames.
While the emphasis has (rightly) so far been on attempting to restore order and law to our streets, that has not stopped the mainstream media (MSM) and many others trying to work out why these things have happened, and why they have happened here and now. It is clear that there are a number of different narratives going around to try to explain them, and that many of the proponents of these narratives are trying to claim that THEIRS is the “true” one, to the exclusion of others. The near bust-up between Michael Gove and Harriet Harman on last night’s Newsnight is a particular case in point.
The one thing that is clear is that some of the early assumptions and narratives posited to explain things have turned out to be either wrong, or only partially true. For example, where it was initially assumed that most of the looters were “disenfranchised”, unemployed youths and children, in fact many of those arrested have turned out to be in jobs, some of them in what would be understood as quite responsible jobs – assistant teachers, solicitors etc. It seems that Harriet Harman was quite right to say that explanations and reasons would come later. There is still much more information required to make sound judgements and decisions. And while playing the blame game (as we almost always do) may be satisfying to politicians’ egos, trying to ensure that underlying issues are properly addressed to forestall repeat performances is a much more taxing and time-consuming affair, and will require facing perhaps unpalatable issues with honesty and integrity. Time alone will tell how this eventually pans out.
I am reminded of a World Wide Message Tribe track from 1994, entitled “We Take The Blame”. The review in the Ocotber 1994 Crossrhythms magazine said, “…the temperature returns to boiling point with the searing ‘We Take The Blame’. Written to explain to school kids that the world’s problems are man’s doing rather than God’s, it features an introduction from Heavyfoot that should send shivers down the spine of any conscientious believer: Ethnic cleansing, torture and trust is beyond belief, while thousands live in fear of death, bullets fly, devastating families and dividing countries all in the name of religion – WE TAKE THE BLAME. It’s straight to the heart, pulverising stuff.”