24 October 2005

Birmingham or Bosnia?

Racial groups fighting it out in the streets? Rape, looting, murder? Sounds like the sort of thing you hear about in the news in places like Africa and the Balkans. You see these reports and nod sadly, thinking how unfortunate that these things are commonplace in those areas.

Except this is Birmingham, the UK's second city. That sort of thing can't happen! This is Britain! Except it is. The white middle class hordes (of which I am one) sit in our semis and never come into contact with the racial tension which bubbles not very far beneath the surface. Race-related violence is something that happens on the news, in other countries. Isn't it? It's hard for the majority to believe this is happening, when it occurs outside the borders of our neat and tidy little lives.

The thing that really brought home the comparison with the Balkans was the use of the word "enclave" in the linked news article. Up to now, I have only heard that word used in conjunction with Srebrenica and Sarajevo, which were war zones at the time.

It maybe that the only thing which is keeping Balkan-style violence from erupting is the legacy stability that exists, and the British ethic of ignoring things and carrying on regardless. However, the British way is probably a big factor in why those for whom this mindset coexists with others feel so marginalised and under threat.

That the Government overlook the fact that not everyone on this little island necessarily shares the same "keep walking, don't engage" mentality means that incidents like those in Birmingham will continue to happen.

While Britain does not have the long history of racial upheaval (being an island has meant that racial diversity is a recent thing), we do have the press. While these people work under the misapprehension that they are presenting The Truth to the readers, the readers take everything as gospel, even when its editorial rubbish.

The riots in Birmingham were apparently sparked by a rape which may not even have taken place!. Having a media who can say what they want is a good thing. However, it does mean that they can say what they want.

A solution to this sort of problem is beyond me. Its beyond most people, possibly even everyone. While History was terribly boring at school, its does explain the reasons behind almost every problem in the world. People do things because of what has happened to them in the past. Understand people's past, and you can predict their future.

Unfortunately, this sounds like we need more psychiatrists.

No comments:

Post a Comment