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August 15, 2011


Dear Beth. I hope that my previous comments were not interpreted as anti-immigrants per se because that is not the case, not at all. I value the contribution of different cultures and I love this diversity. But Britain is a small and over-crowded country, many, many people from other countries are keen to come here and the government's apparent positive discrimination in their favour does cause problems.

I did not place the blame for the recent riots on the immigrants to the UK. For the most part they are often the most hardworking and law-abiding citizens amongst us.

Parenting, well, of course it takes good parents to pass on their values and skills to their own children who will, in turn, become good parents in due course. I was fortunate to have been able to spend ten years as a fulltime mother but that did require a great many sacrifices, especially on the part of their father who worked 14 hours a day, six days a week in order to support us. My own career was effectively ruined but neither of us regret our decision, we raised two decent kids and that was our most important role at the time.

I think that kids today need time and attention and access to as many good experiences as it is possible to give them. They need to have confidence in their own worth and to see that the world of opportunities is open to them regardless of their background and upbringing. It is only when people feel that they have a stake in their future that they will be responsible for their actions.

I feel incredibly sorry for the kids who were involved in the riots, not for the opportunist light-fingered thieves who took advantage of the troubles to help themselves to goods that they neither needed nor really wanted, but for the kids who feel frustrated and angry and invisible.

Our kids are out future and we should invest wisely in them

I have a lot of thoughts about these two posts on change but no time to write about them now! But isn't it interesting that bookstores were the only thing save from rioters?

Marly, where the bookstores "saved," or were they merely ignored because they housed nothing of value?

They were ignored because the rioters weren't after books :-( They weren't actually the only places not attacked. In many (though not all) cases, the break-ins and looting were very targeted: jewellers, pawnbrokers, phone shops, trainer (sneaker) shops... But it was noticeable that bookshops were untouched.

Jean in London

Fallen world = typos everywhere! "safe" from rioters!

Hanah, exactly that. Nothing of value for the rioters, alas.

Jean, I said they must have had poetry volumes in the window. Like a cross against vampires... Nice to know we poets can protect ourselves.

Whenever I hear people blaming societal ills on bad parenting and calling for tough love, I think with a shudder of places like this: http://motherjones.com/print/114956

Well, Dave, I don't blame you -- that is truly sick. I don't think that's what "tough love" is supposed to mean.

No, certainly not what I meant by it. A truly horrifying report.

The bookshops were untouched will probably become the mantra of the reaction to the riots. Were they really? And why is this considered significant? What do bookstores stand for? Right thinking? Culture? The last time I was in a book store it had stupid best sellers and gift items in it, mostly. I get my books at the library or on my Kindle.
I also think that the #1 issue for most people about the riots is who to blame and who to punish, not what to do to better the situation.
Beth, I really do appreciate your thoughtful posts on this subject and other matters of importance.
Oh, and as to "tough love;" I lived in Portland at a time when Evangelical Christians were throwing their kids out on the street in droves. It was terrible.

Thanks for your responses about the bookstores, Jean, Marly, and Hattie. Sorry that I seemed to have abruptly butted in on this discussion. I had posted an earlier reply thanking Beth and everyone for these posts and comments, but I see now that it didn't make it through. (I'm traveling with bad net connections and I'm using other people's computers.)

Idon't think that when people grow up, they will become morebroad-minded and can accept everything. Conversely, I think it's aselecting process, knowing what's the most important and what's theleast. And then be a simple man.

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I read today a quote from the London uprising:

"You call on us to consume while simultaneously depriving us of the means to do it properly --- so here we are doing it the only way we can."

The capitalist societies around the world are built on consume, consume, consume, the US economy is 60% consume. The question is how to people consume without jobs? How anyone can believe that cutting here, cutting there is going to help solve the problem? Alain Badiou the French philosopher has argued that we live in a social space which is increasingly experienced as "worldless"; in such a space, the only form protest can take is meaningless violence.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.