Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Truth and the Lozells riots

Theodore Dalrymple:

Lozells is a very run-down district, full of sleazy cafés, inhabited by many people of Jamaican origin and notorious for the drug dealing that goes on there. I do not think that anyone would call it an outpost of sexual or bourgeois propriety, though there is still, particularly among the women, a strong church-going, hat-and-glove-wearing element. It is not a place for a quiet evening stroll. The surgeons of the hospital that serves it have, in late years, become much more experienced at dealing with bullet wounds.

Adjacent is the much more ethnically mixed Handsworth, famous for its riots, especially in good weather, but once a leafy suburb. Here are to be found sari shops, purveyors of Indian sweets, greengrocers selling 10kg sacks of onions for £1.49, and butchers who, by means of prominent signs in their windows, advise their customers to read the Koran.

It is one of the complaints of the people of Lozells that Pakistani shopkeepers have taken over the small businesses of Lozells that sell items of special interest to people of Caribbean origin. These small businesses used to belong to blacks, but do so no longer. This is deemed to be humiliating, and somehow a manifestation of a wider injustice.

Relations between the two "communities" (which themselves are hardly monolithic in their composition, attitudes or conduct) are far from warm. It is the complaint of some blacks that the Pakistanis do not treat them with the respect that it is every man's due, a respect that, in the minds of at least some young men, is indistinguishable from fear. And it is certainly true that people from the Indian subcontinent are hardly free from racial prejudice, and that for many of them a black man is several rungs below the top of the human ladder - at the very bottom, in fact.

On the other hand, you don't have to speak to many shopkeepers in Lozells, or areas like it, to hear of experiences that disincline them to a favourable impression of black youth; and, like most people, they generalise from one or several bad experiences, and make assumptions about everyone who physically and culturally resembles those of whom they have had those bad experiences. The Pakistanis may not believe that the 14- year-old girl was serially raped, but they will have no difficulty at all in believing that she shoplifted.

Such are the joys of multi-culturalism. The situation has, in my view, been inflamed by years of reflex political correctness on the part of the authorities and the authors of official reports that coin phrases such as "institutionalised racism" - a blood libel, in the sense of being impossible to disprove, if ever there was one.

Poverty, race, murder, politics, Lozells. We know the words, not the meaning

'If it's the law of the jungle we will defend ourselves'

Perils of multiculturalism


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Britain's unseen race riots

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