Monday, December 5, 2011

The Guardian (UK) outdoes itself in liberal-academic silliness

And the Telegraph rises, in its characteristic fashion, to the occasion:
Well, that didn’t take long – just four months to turn the summer rioters from the scum of the earth into victims. There we all were during those tense few days in August, glued to our TV screens as shops were looted and homes burned to the ground, misguidedly thinking that the police had lost control of the streets to a rag-tag army of opportunistic, feral criminals.
In reality, what we were witnessing was a protest by politically sophisticated, disenchanted and alienated young people driven to despair by police brutality. This, at any rate, is what we are invited to believe by a study commissioned by The Guardian, in collaboration with the London School of Economics, and published across eight pages of the newspaper yesterday under the heading “Reading the Riots”. Needless to say, the BBC ran with the story all day.

As, equally predictably, did the Huffington Post and the hapless Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read the full Telegraph story here.   For the Guardian/LSE report, go here.

As for me, I am reminded of Theodore Dalrymple's scathing comparison of the aesthetic quality of Italian life with "its utter destruction in Britain, whose streets have been coarsened to a degree unequaled in Europe," with "profound social and economic consequences" (Our Culture, What's Left of It, p.199).  Or Roger Scruton's account of the wanton destruction of England's urban centers by the arrogant and authoritarian mandarins of modern architecture.  Accounts at least as persuasively applicable as the Guardian's tired and predictable 'analysis.'

It is hard to say what is more morally bankrupt and symptomatic of a society that has lost its moorings in a sea of moral and cultural relativism--the criminal behavior, the looting, burning, and destruction of homes, or the hopelessly reductionistic social science analysis, from which moral categories and understandings have been stripped in order to excuse and explain the inexcusable.

A more helpful analysis of the riots recently appeared in the book Out of the Ashes by David Lammy, Labour MP for the area of London where the riots broke out.  No Colonel Blimp or even conservative, Lammy is willing to recognize the importance of family structure.  In short, fatherlessness matters.

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