Dinner at the pastor’s house for the council grand pooh-bahs and their partners. I was riding the GalPal’s coattails, concentrating on not being first in the buffet line (fail) and not embarrasing her with my sometimes (most of the time?) childish meal-time antics.
World Traveler said the problem was Islamic immigrant youth. Then WT pontificated on his predictable thesis. It would be easy to write him off as a parochial, ethnocentric “the world resolves around me and my country” American, but the odd fact of the matter is he’s traveled the world extensively for work and play.
Strangely, experience abroad doesn’t always result in heightened inquisitiveness, humility, and cross cultural understanding.
Not that they’re infallible, but here’s what the NYTimes is reporting about the riots:
• Widespread antisocial and criminal behavior by young and usually unemployed people has long troubled Britain.
• . . . the riots . . . reflect the alienation and resentment of many young people in Britain, where one million people from the ages of 16 to 24 are officially unemployed, the most since the deep recession of the mid-1980s.
• The riots in London began when protesters gathered outside a north London police station after the shooting of a local man by officers. The police have long had troubled relations with racial and ethnic minorities in Britain and have sought to repair these relations, although the protesters have come from all backgrounds.
The article begins and ends with a case study of 19 year old Louis James who is not an Islamic immigrant.
• In many ways, Mr. James’s circumstances are typical. He lives in a government-subsidized apartment in northern London and receives $125 in jobless benefits every two weeks, even though he says he has largely given up looking for work. He says he has never had a proper job and learned to read only three years ago. His mother can barely support herself and his stepbrothers and sisters. His father, who was a heroin addict, is dead. He says he has been in and out of too many schools to count and left the educational system for good when he was 15. “No one has ever given me a chance; I am just angry at how the whole system works,” Mr. James said. He would like to get a job at a retail store, but admits that he spends most days watching television and just trying to get by. “That is the way they want it,” he said, without specifying exactly who “they” were. “They give me just enough money so that I can eat and watch TV all day. I don’t even pay my bills anymore.”
• Mr. James’s plight reflects a broader trend here. More challenging students. . . have not been receiving the attention they should as teachers, under pressure to meet educational goals, focus on children from more stable homes and those with greater abilities and social skills. Disillusioned, those who cannot keep up just drop out.
Many would no doubt criticize James and there are lots of policy debates to engage in, but shame on me for standing silently by while my fellow church member freely spread his fear of Islam.
I should have said economic dislocation, poverty, broken families, institutional racism, and ineffective schools don’t justify the violence, but explain it far better than your “Islamic immigrant youth” belief. Why scapegoat Islamic immigrant youth? Were they behind soccer hooliganism in the 1980s and 1990s too?
That would have made the dinner conversation a bit awkward, but it probably wouldn’t have damaged the GalPal’s standing on the Council too terribly much.