16 February 2007

Why Are Our Black Youth Killing Each Other? The White Guys Made Them Do It

People often ask me if I miss London, and the answer is yes, I do, quite a lot, in fact. But there are some things I don't miss at all, and foremost among them is the way what once was a fairly peaceful and safe city has become as dangerous and brutal as most American cities. Street robberies and random assaults are now so common that people rarely bother reporting them to the police, and in recent years stabbings and shootings have become everyday occurrences.

In many ways London reminds me of New York in the bad old days: the police have pretty much given up trying to enforce the law at all, and often don't even bother turning up until it's time to draw lines on the pavement and photograph the corpse. Part of this is due to the rising tide of PC. No longer are policemen (sorry, policepersons) chosen on the basis of size, strength or the ability to command respect; instead you've got a crew of glorified lollipop ladies, all very smiley and nice, of course, but about as much use in settling down a gang of street-corner thugs as a paper umbrella in a hurricane.

But even more responsible for the dismal state of what was one of the best police forces anywhere (and the model for metropolitan police forces around the world) is the government of Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone, which harbours a deeply held anti-police and pro-criminal bias. Pro-criminal? Am I not being a little bit strong with the rhetoric here? Only if I fail to make clear that Mayor Ken doesn't support all criminals, just those hailing from racial or ethnic minorities, because in his tiny mind, they're like little Robin Hoods engaged in revolutionary wealth redistribution.

And anyway, the poor dears can't help themselves; like left-wing white racists everywhere, the Mayor implicitly assumes that robbing and assaulting is what young black and brown men do as a matter of course, and to interfere with it would just be a continuation of the British Empire's shameful legacy of oppression. What's more, it's all undoubtedly the white people's fault anyway, for having too much money. Seriously, a popular government explanation/excuse for soaring crime rates in recent years has been, "Because we've made Britain so much more prosperous, there are more things to steal nowadays."

Of late, black teenagers have been shooting each other with depressing regularity, and you'd think that here, at least, no one would try to blame it on white people, but you'd be wrong. Mayor Livingstone's deputy in charge of policing (and you wonder why the cops are depressed) is one Lee Jasper, a professional race-baiter along the lines of Al Sharpton, minus the charm. Although he's one of the most powerful and highest-paid oiks in Livingstone's employ, his sole responsibility seems to be finding a way to make excuses for anything done by black criminals and/or pin the blame for it on whites.

This week he's excelled himself. In the wake of five brutal murders of South London teenagers, all apparently committed by young black gangbangers, here's Jasper's explanation: "I have heard one story locally which says that 600 weapons were sold off by a group of white guys in south London recently and that's why there are so many weapons about." Yes, and of course if there are guns available, then teenagers just naturally have to go around shooting each other, right? And if it weren't for those alleged "white guys," South London's black teenagers would all be safely tucked up at home, busily doing their schoolwork.

The same story goes on to repeat the popular government lie that despite all evidence to the contrary, crime is actually falling. This is standard Labour dogma, repeated ad nauseam in the Guardian; the "falling" crime rates are achieved through statistical flimflammery that lumps nonviolent property crimes like car theft, burglary, even shoplifting, in with the kinds of crimes - muggings, assaults, shootings and stabbings - that people understandably fear most. Taken by itself, violent street crime has soared to heights once thought impossible in a country once thought to be civilised.


Dave said...

Larry, I don't see any statistical flimflammery in how London's crime statistics are measured; as a broad overview, crime probably IS falling. Certain kinds of crime can go up even as total crime goes down, and it's hardly commue naivete to recognize that. However, you've still got a point provided that reports that crime is dropping don't remark upon the rise in street crime.

And as for PC shock troops' role in increased crime, proof please. People say that about American cities too, but lackluster law enforcement has a lot more to do with slashed community policing funds (for which you can thank Mr. Tough-On-Crime himself, President Bush) than the oversensitive ninny strawmen so frequently invoked as the cause.

That being said, Livingstone and Jasper sound like total idiots.

Larry Livermore said...

Dave, you're right; technically the British government is within its rights to say that overall crime is falling. But wouldn't you say that they're defying the spirit if not the letter of the law if they use this particular bit of information (overall crime rates are falling) to try and convince people that there's nothing to fear, even while the kinds of violent street crime that most concern people are skyrocketing?

Again and again we hear government spokesmen and/or the Guardian (prety much the same thing these days) saying "The only problem is people's perceptions. They need to be made aware that crime is falling, and that it's only tabloid scare stories that have the public in a panic."

As for the fuzzy-wuzzy PC police, I have no statistical citations to offer you, just anecdotal evidence, like the time a tiny woman police constable tried to remonstrate with an aggressive drunk in Charing Cross Station and had to be rescued by several passersby, myself among them. Or the police decision to stop patrolling many areas because they were too rough, and to instead put up signs advising the public: "Street robberies are occuring in this area. Please safeguard your personal possessions and exercise caution in using your mobile phone."

Community policing? Sounds nice, but what is it? And if George Bush is responsible for killing it, how come crime has continued to go down in New York City throughout his presidency, even while it's increased in other American cities?

If by community policing, you mean that certain cops are assigned to a certain area, get to know it and its inhabitants, and who the troublemakers are, then great. It's exactly what I would advocate, but I don't see what the federal government has to do with it; it's the kind of thing that works best at local level anyway, and cities have been policing themselves without federal assistance through all but a few decades of our history.

If on the other hand "community policing" means some kind of touchy-feely scheme where each neighourhood decides for itself what sort of laws and law enforcement it wants, what do you do about the neighbourhoods where drug dealing or prostitution or mugging have become an integral part of local culture?

I know we had a community policing programme in our neighbourhood of London, which sounded good but in essence meant that one cop came around to our building one time to meet with concerned residents and assure us that the local police were in the process of "restructuring priorities" so as to provide us with a "more efficiently ordered process" for reporting crimes, which meant in practice that you had answer so many questions and fill out so many forms in making a complaint that the alleged criminal might have got old and died before the police were actually able to do anything about it.

What we needed and never got was a couple of beat cops who regularly strolled down our street and through our building. In no time at all they would have identified and/or frightened off the handful of petty criminals that drastically reduced the quality of life for the vast majority of residents. Instead, emboldened by the near certainty that the cops would never turn up unless someone was stabbed or shot, our petty criminals became steadily less petty, and our neighbourhood became more attractive to muggers and other lowlifes from neighouring precincts. But at least the cops came around and put up signs warning us about it.

Robert Jackman said...

Larry Loveage -

You're right to identify a rising problem, but absolutely wrong when pinpointing the cause.

I've just blogged on the issue, highlighting where I think the blame lays.

Come have a read. And leave comments please - it'll be nice to hear what an outspoken chap like you thinks about it.

Robert :)