A City on Fire, the Tragedy of the Host State

Building on Fire

The riots and protests, which have been taking place in London since last Saturday, and were triggered by the death of Mark Duggan, have taken unimaginable proportions today. What started as an organized protest against racial and social injustice has already lost its ideological message. The perpetrators seem to be little concerned about human rights, equality, or minority integration when they are only using the death of Mark Duggan as an excuse to loot and attack innocent business holders and civilians. Today the gangs of teenagers looting the capital and other UK cities seem to be detached from the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police during his arrest in Tottenham Hale last Thursday.

It is now obvious, that what is going on in the capital has little to do with the social concerns of those, who claim to be suppressed and mistreated by the state and the authorities. It now seems that a certain group of people has found a new excuse to loot, steal and attack, and this time, it is in the name of nothing. It is vile, chaotic, disorganized, random and totally outrageous. It is not a manifestation of a suppressed minority, it is a result of the passivity of the silent majority.

The events of the last couple of days however are a strong reminder of the gap between the state and its minorities. Britain has always been a host country, where people from different nationalities and the former colonies have been able to find not only refuge, but also social support, citizenship and a home. Since the post-colonial period, Britain has been a shelter for many from the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Asia. It has prided in its ability to integrate foreign nations, and to provide social care and political protection. The irony of it all is that many of the people who are looting the capital at this very moment, have done very little to contribute for its development. It is impossible to generalize when trying to identify the perpetrators. It is now clear that they come from a mix of social and racial backgrounds.  Many of them however have been raised with what Sylbourne Sydial, founder of the independent think tank Facilitators for Better Jamaica described as ‘the victims mentality’. Many of them are kids and they have been brought up with the belief that they are the victims of a corrupt Western capitalist system, which disables the weak and counts for the strong.  In reality, this is not the case, but certain social groups feel more comfortable following the victim scenario and adhering to the antagonistic social pattern of racial and ethnic intolerance. Because it is easier this way.

The truth is that the perpetrators, who claim to be the victims, have victimized those, who are contributing to the welfare state and the social benefit system in this country. The people who will be most affected by the so called riots, are the small entrepreneurs, and the business owners, who pay taxes in order to provide social benefits for the ‘victims’. And this is the irony in this story about the host country, which is now suffering from its own post-colonial ambition.

By Gergana Dimitrova

  1. #1 by Coulette Dobbins on August 10, 2011 - 6:09 pm

    Very well written article, and very truth provoking, however, the victim mentality is a little over the mark. However, it may be true in some instances, but one has to look at our own causes that have stemmed into this social disaster. It is so easy to point the other finger when all is good in your life. We have lost the ability to engage with people if it does not benefit us.

    We are caught up in materialist value, power and prestige, which does little or nothing to create a harmonious environment. We all know everything starts with us, and within our home. It does not take a genius to identify the causes that in today’s society has lead to the dysfunction of our youth. Parents have to work. Gone are the days when there are two parents in the home. So who is minding the children? Not everyone is lazy, not every one wants to live off social funds, however, child care is not cheap. When all is said and done, most individuals have little or no higher education so there fore have to settle for minimum wage jobs, after bills are paid and child care is paid, what is left? Things are getting tougher by the days. Rising in petrol prices, taxes, as well as food prices, with the same income we have been getting before. Again that takes away from the pie that we have, but Only those who have lived like this are able of understanding this.

    Education is another thing, school is boring. I will be the first to admit this. Teachers need to learn how to engage the children to want to learn. Make them take ownership of their education. Teachers are underpaid and therefore may feel under appreciated. I have been saying this for years, our priorities are not sending a good message to our youth. Teachers make an average salary of 40,000 per year, where a professional athletes are making millions. These teachers are the same one’s who taught these professional athletes, yet gain little respect from us. How shameful is that?

    Then we have our leaders, stealing tax payers money to pad their own pockets. They engage in helping other countries while cutting back on funding that can be used on programs for our youth. Not everyone can afford memberships at the local sports facilities. It starts at home, and I mean home in our state as well. We need to look at the big picture people, we have lost sight of what really matters.

    In the small town or city I live in, housing developments are multiplying by the days. There are no community parks for our children to enjoy. Our public transportation is a joke. We have one youth center that opens at 1:00 and closes at 6:00. After the children reach secondary school age, there are no extra-curricular activities for these children to do. So, what do they do? That’s right they get in trouble. Idle minds are the most dangerous. But we don’t listen to their cries, when they put up comments on facebook that the reason there is so much fighting amongst the youth is because there is nothing for them to do. We make excuses for our own actions.

    So, tell me, who are the real victims? There are no victims, there are only culprits. Until we start engaging ourselves to respect one another and learn to live side by side with no hate in our hearts for someone that don’t look like us, and pull together to make a society that is enriched with diversity and inclusion, and stop allowing our political leaders to lead us in this state of chaos, focus on our children and not on material things, then you know what, we will continue to be in this state of dillusion and dysfunction.

    It is a shame this incidents that are happening in London, it is a shame for the country to allow this too happen. It is a shame there is not equal punishment for those who commit crimes, regardless of what position they are on the totem pole, and it is a shame that we can continue to judge others without looking at our own selves in the mirror.

  2. #2 by Tiemo Talk on September 11, 2011 - 8:49 pm

    Gergana and Collette – Excellent posts. Can’t argue with the well made points you make.

    I’ve written my own take on the riots entitled. After the riots: 10 Steps to Repairing Broken Britain.


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