So, Manchester United get another jammy win, Liverpool show flair and draw, Arsenal fall apart, and David Starkey insults someone on the telly. It looks like some things never change.

I feel out of the picture of post-riot English debate. But one thing that has somewhat surprised me is the knee-jerk (and lazily predictable) blaming of multiculturalism. Multicultural Britain certainly presents challenges, but where is the inextricable link between multiculturalism and the riots? From what I have seen from this side of the pond (so the judgement has to be provisional), the riots were multicultural in their constituency. I guess the riots were also fairly heterogeneous: black & white, young and middle-aged, unemployed and middle-class professional, etc.

So, why did nothing kick off in places like Bradford or Burnley? Why so many stories about Asians and Muslims protecting their neighbourhoods in, for example, Birmingham? What conclusions can we draw from this?


The other thing that has surprised me is the shortsightedness of some knee-jerk comment from politicians (as reported). Just a question: if the left is being caricatured as offering bleeding-heart liberal sympathy with the poor rioters, then how does the right think that evicting families of rioters from their homes offers a long-term solution? I might have little sympathy for the criminal opportunism behind much of the looting, but as a society we still have to live with the consequences of marginalising people who already feel they live on the edge of civil society.

Bleating about ‘responsibilities’ doesn’t help us when some people don’t bother to listen. And we still have to live with them – even if they riot or thieve or fiddle their taxes.

From where I am sitting (and, again, I am at an uncomfortable distance), it is not enough to damn the opportunistic consumerism of the looters while we see the banking system that brought the world to it’s financial knees continue its rewards system without shame or demur. What is good for the goose is presumably good for the gander. It is a value question.

Anyway, I still don’t understand the headline in Russia’s Pravda from last Tuesday (http://www.pravda.ru/world/europe/european/08-08-2011/1086943-westend-0/): ‘Arab boomerang returned to London’. It’s funny how we read into situations the conclusions we have already drawn before even looking at the evidence.

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Location:Philadelphia, USA