PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland -- Some have compared the riots in the UK to the London Blitz. It's a flawed comparison. The strategic bombing of London in 1940 came from an external enemy, Nazi Germany. Enemies from within are carrying out the free-for-all that began in Tottenham, England on Saturday -- quickly spreading to London and other parts of the UK -- following the shooting death of suspected gang member Mark Duggan by Metropolitan Police.
Theresa May, the British home secretary, rejected calls for water cannons and more forceful methods to help overwhelmed police quell the chaos. Interviewed on Sky News May said, "The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities." If that sounds completely feckless, that's because it is.
Businesses have been wiped out. Untold numbers of jobs have been lost. Did the community "consent" to that? If even a few shop owners had been armed, perhaps these products of the British welfare, entitlement and envy state might have thought twice about their thuggish behavior. Unfortunately, gun laws in Britain are strict, owners must be licensed and self-defense can be difficult to prove. Northern Ireland, while also part of the UK, has more liberal gun ownership laws and the bar to prove self-defense is much lower, perhaps because of the history of violence in the country before the peace agreement. There has been no rioting in Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament from its summer session to discuss the situation and to present a "united" front. But that, along with condemnations "in the strongest terms" won't address the real problem, which many Britons may not wish to confront.
The problem in Britain, and increasingly in America, is moral and spiritual, not economic and political. British history and values are no longer being adequately taught in the UK for fear a sense of super-nationalism might be conveyed. This at a time when no nation is to be considered superior to any other, a view expressed by President Obama.
According to a 2007 research report on church attendance in the UK from Tearfund, a UK Christian relief and development agency, just "fifteen percent of UK adults go to church at least once a month." BBC News reports that according to a 2001 Census survey, "a fifth of children are in lone-parent families ... 91 percent of these families headed by mother" and there is "a minority of married couples for the first time -- 45 percent of the population versus 64 percent in 1981." So when the government calls on parents to be more vigilant about the whereabouts of their teenagers, the likelihood there are enough stable two-parent households who care enough to do so is not encouraging.
If civility, right and wrong, personal responsibility and accountability and the right to life, liberty and personal property are not values worthy of being passed on to the next generation, then their opposites will be taught by default. Children don't "catch" goodness and right behavior as they do a cold. Their natural tendency is to do wrong. The goal of discipline is to teach them to do right. The London riots are the extreme outcome when "right" is no longer defined.
When a society refuses to impose a moral code in its schools, homes and culture, pandemonium is the result -- think Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. Multiply that several times and you have the lawlessness that has swept Britain with greater force than its mad cow disease scare.
"This was not an angry crowd; this was a greedy crowd," said Chris Sims, chief constable of West Midlands police. One could see that from the TV shots of women trying on clothes and shoes before stealing them and men ripping flat-screen TVs off walls and smashing windows and jewelry cases.
There's a TV program called "Sons of Anarchy." It is fiction. These rioters are the real sons (and daughters) of anarchy and it will take more than political condemnations to repair the damage they've caused. Seventy years ago, the London Blitz forged a national unity in Britain. Where's that unity today?
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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