Detroit, 1967: “It was a great fire, man!”
By Max Hastings
A few weeks after the U.S. city of Detroit was ravaged by 1967 race riots in which 43 people died, I was shown around the wrecked areas by a black reporter named Joe Strickland.
He said: ‘Don’t you believe all that stuff people here are giving media folk about how sorry they are about what happened. When they talk to each other, they say: “It was a great fire, man!” ’
I am sure that is what many of the young rioters, black and white, who have burned and looted in England through the past few shocking nights think today.
It was fun. It made life interesting. It got people to notice them. As a girl looter told a BBC reporter, it showed ‘the rich’ and the police that ‘we can do what we like’.
If you live a normal life of absolute futility, which we can assume most of this week’s rioters do, excitement of any kind is welcome. The people who wrecked swathes of property, burned vehicles and terrorised communities have no moral compass to make them susceptible to guilt or shame.
Wealth as a zero-sum game. Hastings gets simply brutal – please read his entire post.
Looking back upon America’s Detroit and Watts riots of the ’60’s, we have two distinct advantages in our perspective of Britain’s: For starters, nearly 50 more years of welfare corruption have past – no one can claim that “social justice” hasn’t been tried. They have it all: Eternal unemployment “benefits,” “free for all” health care, guaranteed housing, free state education – what could possibly go wrong?
Secondly and most importantly, we are free to state the obvious: “Social justice” has been tried and it does not work. A half century ago America’s media giants in particular were locked into the “liberal” mindset – that Government was the solution, the grand equalizer. Conspicuous inequality was unfair. Unfair! and thus only government can create jobs and “redistribute wealth.” Or so we were lead to believe – but this has changed dramatically. The freedom of cable competition and the internet has allowed for libertarian and conservative views to become part of the mainstream competition of ideas. No-one then could state the obvious and be heard.
Government as the wellspring of justice and peace? Or Liberty: self-reliance and self-governance?