Just a short time ago, I was watching riot footage from England in between back episodes of Blue’s Clues and Jerry Springer (I feel that consistent viewing of these two programs gives me the firm grasp over reality that I strive to claim). It was interesting, albeit tragic, to see such a recognizable city be ravaged by its own inhabitants. I read reports that most of the rioting started, but arguably did not persist over, the shooting of a young man by British police.
That seems like an alright reason to start a riot, but if we’re being honest with our critique on how Londoners handled themselves during this event, it’s clear to see that these people really don’t understand civil unrest. A guy is shot by police and the city gets set on fire? What’s wrong, England? Do you not have hockey or basketball games to beat each other to death over?
Us North Americans understand rioting, looting, pillaging, and all around civil disobedience is best reserved for only the most crucial moments of any social atmosphere (in order of most important to least): whenever your city’s sports team loses; in response to natural disasters; to remind local business owners that their hard work can amount to nothing in the time it takes to throw a brick through a window; or when the general public just wants a beating from local authorities.
I get upset to see such an interesting place like London fall apart over something that doesn’t involve one team’s score over another team’s score. I know you Europeans have that irrational hostility within you somewhere (soccer riots are a great example, but it’s unfortunate that it’s such a sissy game). Here’s hoping England can get back the kind of horribly self-justified violence that once let them practically own the globe. After all, the sun never sets on the British Empire. But that orange glow in London isn’t the sun; it’s a historical landmark on fire.