Brian Lilley posted this column by Michael Coren on his Lilley Pad blog. The topic is the recent riots by youths in London, Ontario and Toronto, Ontario.
Two incidents last weekend said more about Canada, and the west, than any number of political scandals.
In London, Ont., there was violence and rioting, the ostensible cause being St. Patrick’s Day. In Toronto’s middle-class High Park, a highly expensive and enormously popular children’s playground was burned to the ground.
What is important is less the violence than the area and the perpetrators. Just as with hockey riots in Vancouver or demonstrations in Montreal, these were prosperous areas with little if any genuine social deprivation, and the criminals in London were overwhelmingly white, privileged and financially secure.
This is extraordinarily significant.
So if the youths were well off, why were they rioting?
First, they are no longer frightened of the police. Spare me the idea that they shouldn’t be, and that the police are a service and not a force. It was, as so often, patrician liberals who decided a generation ago to transform the cops from tough but fair enforcers of the law into politically correct social workers, composed of sufficient women and minorities to make NDP candidates feel comfortable. Teens and students know the worst that will happen to them if they act like animals, is a stroke and a telling off.
Second, the conscious destruction of fatherhood. While not all of these rioters come from broken homes — yes, the term is most applicable — many of them have no strong, male figure to look to, and even when a father is present he is often emasculated. We have lionized the single mother and made the role of the dad who provides boundaries and consequences to actions a figure of fun, a dinosaur.
Third, we have tried to, and to an extent succeeded, in removing religion from the public square. Putting theology aside, faith provided structure and morality to individual lives, and a sense of community. If there is no right and wrong, there is no problem with smashing a police cruiser, or burning down a park that took so long and so much local effort to build. As for community, we have never used the term so much, and never had so little idea of what it really means.
Fourth, while leftist politicians and labour leaders will tell you how poor we all are, the truth is that we’ve never had it to so good. It’s easy being a Canadian, and simple being a young Canadian. Junk food and junk standards, student loans and student sloth, instant access and instant gratification. All this wrapped in the cheap paper of reality television, dumb media hosts affirming the worst attitudes of youth culture, and leaders too frightened and ambitious to tell the moaning masses to shut up and stop being so ungrateful.
Oprah, teddy bears at shrines, pretending to care when children are abducted and killed, state intervention replacing family concern, killing God and killing truth, believing only we matter, screaming that the world owes us a living. It’s not just High Park but Canada burning. Don’t fiddle while it happens.
Secularism is basically the detachment of moral standards from any overarching design for the universe that would include objective moral standards. Secularism is opposed to objective morality.
And the same thing happened in the UK in August of 2011. An article written by Max Hastings about those riots identified similar root causes. (H/T Mary, Dina)
An underclass has existed throughout history, which once endured appalling privation. Its spasmodic outbreaks of violence, especially in the early 19th century, frightened the ruling classes.
Its frustrations and passions were kept at bay by force and draconian legal sanctions, foremost among them capital punishment and transportation to the colonies.
Today, those at the bottom of society behave no better than their forebears, but the welfare state has relieved them from hunger and real want.
When social surveys speak of “deprivation” and “poverty”, this is entirely relative. Meanwhile, sanctions for wrongdoing have largely vanished.
[…]But it will not do for a moment to claim the rioters’ behaviour reflects deprived circumstances or police persecution.
Of course it is true that few have jobs, learn anything useful at school, live in decent homes, eat meals at regular hours or feel loyalty to anything beyond their local gang.
This is not, however, because they are victims of mistreatment or neglect.
It is because it is fantastically hard to help such people, young or old, without imposing a measure of compulsion which modern society finds unacceptable. These kids are what they are because nobody makes them be anything different or better.
A key factor in delinquency is lack of effective sanctions to deter it. From an early stage, feral children discover that they can bully fellow pupils at school, shout abuse at people in the streets, urinate outside pubs, hurl litter from car windows, play car radios at deafening volumes, and, indeed, commit casual assaults with only a negligible prospect of facing rebuke, far less retribution.
Anyone who reproaches a child, far less an adult, for discarding rubbish, making a racket, committing vandalism or driving unsociably will receive in return a torrent of obscenities, if not violence.
So who is to blame? The breakdown of families, the pernicious promotion of single motherhood as a desirable state, the decline of domestic life so that even shared meals are a rarity, have all contributed importantly to the condition of the young underclass.
The social engineering industry unites to claim that the conventional template of family life is no longer valid.
[…]This has ultimately been sanctioned by Parliament, which refuses to accept, for instance, that children are more likely to prosper with two parents than with one, and that the dependency culture is a tragedy for those who receive something for nothing.
The judiciary colludes with social services and infinitely ingenious lawyers to assert the primacy of the rights of the criminal and aggressor over those of law-abiding citizens, especially if a young offender is involved.
The police, in recent years, have developed a reputation for ignoring yobbery and bullying, or even for taking the yobs’ side against complainants.
“The problem,” said Bill Pitt, the former head of Manchester’s Nuisance Strategy Unit, “is that the law appears to be there to protect the rights of the perpetrator, and does not support the victim.”
Police regularly arrest householders who are deemed to have taken “disproportionate” action to protect themselves and their property from burglars or intruders. The message goes out that criminals have little to fear from “the feds”.
Figures published earlier this month show that a majority of “lesser” crimes – which include burglary and car theft, and which cause acute distress to their victims – are never investigated, because forces think it so unlikely they will catch the perpetrators.
The causes of this sickness are many and complex. But three things can be said with certainty: every one of them is the fault of the liberal intelligentsia; every one of them was instituted or exacerbated by the Labour government; and at the very heart of these problems lies the breakdown of the family.
For most of these children come from lone-mother households. And the single most crucial factor behind all this mayhem is the willed removal of the most important thing that socialises children and turns them from feral savages into civilised citizens: a father who is a fully committed member of the family unit.
[…]In such areas, successive generations are being brought up only by mothers, through whose houses pass transitory males by whom these women have yet more children — and who inevitably repeat the pattern of lone and dysfunctional parenting.
The result is fatherless boys who are consumed by an existential rage and desperate emotional need, and who take out the damage done to them by lashing out from infancy at everyone around them. Such children inhabit what is effectively a different world from the rest of society. It’s a world without any boundaries or rules. A world of emotional and physical chaos.
A world where a child responds to the slightest setback or disagreement by resorting to violence. A world where the parent is unwilling or incapable of providing the loving and disciplined framework that a child needs in order to thrive.
Yet instead of lone parenthood being regarded as a tragedy for individuals, and a catastrophe for society, it has been redefined as a ‘right’.
When Labour came to power in 1997, it set about systematically destroying not just the traditional family but the very idea that married parents were better for children than any other arrangement.
Instead, it introduced the sexual free-for-all of ‘lifestyle choice’; claimed that the idea of the male breadwinner was a sexist anachronism; and told girls that they could, and should, go it alone as mothers.
This was the outcome of the shattering defeat of Tony Blair, in the two years or so after he came to power, at the hands of the ultra-feminists and apostles of non-judgmentalism in his Cabinet and party who were determined, above all, to destroy the traditional nuclear family.
Blair stood virtually alone against them, and lost.
One of these ultra-feminist wreckers was Harriet Harman. The other night, she was on TV preposterously suggesting that cuts in educational allowances or youth workers had something to do with young people torching and looting shops, robbing and leaving people for dead in the streets.
But Harman was one of the principal forces in the Labour government behind the promotion of lone parenthood and the marginalisation of fathers. If anyone should be blamed for bringing about the conditions which have led to these appalling scenes in our cities, it is surely Ms Harman.
And this breaking of the family was further condoned, rewarded and encouraged by the Welfare State, which conceives of need solely in terms of absence of money, and which accordingly subsidises lone parenthood and the destructive behaviour that fatherlessness brings in its train.
Welfare dependency further created the entitlement culture that the looters so egregiously display. It taught them that the world owed them a living. It taught them that their actions had no consequences. And it taught them that the world revolved around themselves.
And now, Theodore Dalrymple in the Australian.
The riots in London and elsewhere in Britain are a backhanded tribute to the long-term intellectual torpor, moral cowardice, incompetence and careerist opportunism of the British political and intellectual class.
They have somehow managed not to notice what has long been apparent to anyone who has taken a short walk with his eyes open down any frequented British street: that a considerable proportion of the country’s young population (a proportion that is declining) is ugly, aggressive, vicious, badly educated, uncouth and criminally inclined.
Unfortunately, while it is totally lacking in self-respect, it is full of self-esteem: that is to say, it believes itself entitled to a high standard of living, and other things, without any effort on its own part.
Consider for a moment the following: although youth unemployment in Britain is very high, that is to say about 20 per cent of those aged under 25, the country has had to import young foreign labour for a long time, even for unskilled work in the service sector.
The reasons for this seeming paradox are obvious to anyone who knows young Britons as I do.
No sensible employer in a service industry would choose a young Briton if he could have a young Pole; the young Pole is not only likely to have a good work ethic and refined manners, he is likely to be able to add up and — most humiliating of all — to speak better English than the Briton, at least if by that we mean the standard variety of the language. He may not be more fluent but his English will be more correct and his accent easier to understand.
This is not an exaggeration. After compulsory education (or perhaps I should say intermittent attendance at school) up to the age of 16 costing $80,000 a head, about one-quarter of British children cannot read with facility or do simple arithmetic. It makes you proud to be a British taxpayer.
I think I can say with a fair degree of certainty, from my experience as a doctor in one of the areas in which a police station has just been burned down, that half of those rioting would reply to the question, “Can you do arithmetic?” by answering, “What is arithmetic?”
British youth leads the Western world in almost all aspects of social pathology, from teenage pregnancy to drug taking, from drunkenness to violent criminality. There is no form of bad behaviour that our version of the welfare state has not sought out and subsidised.
British children are much likelier to have a television in their bedroom than a father living at home. One-third of them never eat a meal at a table with another member of their household — family is not the word for the social arrangements of the people in the areas from which the rioters mainly come. They are therefore radically unsocialised and deeply egotistical, viewing relations with other human beings in the same way as Lenin: Who whom, who does what to whom. By the time they grow up, they are destined not only for unemployment but unemployability.
For young women in much of Britain, dependence does not mean dependence on the government: that, for them, is independence. Dependence means any kind of reliance on the men who have impregnated them who, of course, regard their own subventions from the state as pocket money, to be supplemented by a little light trafficking.
If we want to stop youths from rioting, the solution isn’t to transfer more wealth to them by raising taxes and substituting government welfare checks for fathers. That’s what feminism teaches, but it’s not working. It’s been tried in the UK and Canada and it doesn’t work. To stop children from being violent, you need a father in the home, and he needs to be empowered to work and earn and to set up moral boundaries. Fathers do not just appear, they need to be given incentives, they need to be given authority, they need to be given respect, and they need to be encouraged by women and by government.