2011 England riots
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The 2011 England riots were a spate of violence, arson and looting that spread across several areas of Britain in August 2011. Much discussion has taken place about the social implications of the incidents.
David Starkey and the race issue
I think what this week has shown is that profound changes have happened. The two things about these riots, the first is, in one sense they're completely superficial. Somebody brilliantly put it there [elsewhere on Newsnight] it's shopping with violence. It's merely extended commercialism. I think for me the key image was the woman cooly trying on a pair of trainers outside the looted shop. So that's one aspect of it. The other, though, I think there has been a profound cultural change. I've just been re-reading Enoch Powell, the rivers of blood speech. His prophecy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber didn't foam with blood, but flames lampant wrapped round Tottenham and wrapped round Clapham. But it wasn't intercommunal violence, this is where he was completely wrong. What's happened is that a substantial section of the Chavs that [Owen Jones] wrote about have become black. The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion. And black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together. This language which is wholly false, which is a Jamaican patois which has been intruded in England. And this is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country.
["In that speech Enoch Powell talked about, fifteen or twenty years time, 'the black man having the whip-hand over the white man'", comments the presenter]
That's not true. What's happened is black culture. This is the enormously important thing: it's not skin colour, it's cultural. Listen to David Lammey, an archetypical successful black man. If you turned the screen of so you were listening to him on radio, you'd think he was white.
Remember what we're dealing with. Listen to these boys... this is the text sent by the girl who had been the Olympic ambassador, who then engages in shocking acts of looting: "Pigs shouldn't of killed dat guy last night innit. Den dey wouldn't get blown up. Girls going to steal we is. But stealing do we the shopkeeper ain't fuck there. Mugs".
Starkey's comments were widely condemned - Labour leader Ed Miliband, for example, argued that it was "absolutely outrageous that someone in the 21st Century could be making that sort of comment". In all fairness, Starkey's main point - that there is a criminal subculture associated primarily with black youth - is not far outside the political mainstream; Miliband's old boss Tony Blair made similar comments in 2007, arguing that such violence would not be prevented "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it". Where Starkey went wrong, then, was not with his basic message but with his choice of words - namely, the implication that turning to crime involves "becoming black", and that the most successful blacks are those who can be mistaken for whites.[note 1]
Starkey later defended himself in an article for the Telegraph, pointing to ethnic commentators who agreed with the thrust of his message. The piece concludes by calling to a strong but inclusive English national identity: "an English nationalism we must have. And it must be one that includes all our people: white and black and mixed race alike", writes Starkey. "The riots are the symptom of a profound rupture in our body politic and sense of national identity. If the rupture is not healed and a sense of common purpose recovered, they will recur – bigger, nastier and more frequently. Can we stop bickering and address this task of recovery and reconstruction – all together?"
As with any event of this scale, conspiracy theorists were busy cooking up explanations. "The illuminati are behind the riots", wrote Godlike Productions poster "2012 is COMING!!!"; "the powers behind the government are looking at the longer term aspect and want to enslave us all by preventing us from future free speach and demostration rally's against there proposed ideas and schemes. they will use there untouchable status as the means and stepping stone to initiate there one world government."
"Why are these people running amok like this?", asked the Truther Girls blog. "[T]hose participating have not made any clear statements concerning their reasons for acting like hooligans. Officially, what sparked this was the death of a young black man by the name of Marc Duggan... it is odd that not only are the rioters not holding up placards drawing attention to the case of Marc Duggan, nor are they chanting any slogans related to police brutality, but only small numbers of Londoners even payed tribute to Mr Duggan after his death". It goes on:
Even more suspiciously, it was reported on Russia today that people in the neighborhood where Duggan was killed stated that a police surveillance vehicle had been filming the area for days before the shooting, that armed plain-clothes agents had been spotted hiding in bushes nearby and that the taxi in which Marc Duggan had been a passenger had been taken away after the incident and then returned later for more tests. Were they planning to kill someone to use it as a cover for riots that would then be instigated by provocateurs?
The article concludes that the riots were most likely "designed and instigated by the globalist elites in order to herald the advent of martial law in Britain and soon the rest of the Western world".
The riots were celebrated by some of the sillier segments of the British left, including the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and UK Indymedia - the latter even providing a list of buildings that should be attacked.
- Perhaps he was trying to evoke a Brass Eye sketch where a man "blacks up" and starts committing crimes instinctively because of it...