Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why Not Here?

The rioting in Britain isn't following a pattern that is easily explained by protest or reaction to oppression. You could have said something like that about London late last week. But yesterday, Tuesday, there was looting in Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, etc. From BBC TV coverage in Birmingham (possibly taken from CCTV feeds) it appears that a few young people appear suddenly, attack shops, the word gets out, and then more people arrive, etc.

One explanation that has been offered is this: watching riots and looting in London, people in other cities decide that they too can have boxes full of merchandise. Some were apparently trying things on in H&M before running off with them. The riots "didn't seem to be politically motivated, nor did they have any sense of community or social solidarity," said an observer quoted by Zoe Williams in the Guardian; "We're not all gathering together for a cause, we're running down Foot Locker," said another. "Greed," "entitlement," and "consumerism" are the buzzwords today.

I don't know if this is what happened, but if it is, then why not here? I don't want to put ideas in anybody's head, but why can't people in Toronto (or any number of other cities) watch what's happening in England and decide that they too can have boxes of merchandise? If it's not about anything in particular, then why should it respect national boundaries? Should we worry about riots in Markham and North York (the banlieues of Toronto)?

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