Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Let's start calling problems with their real names

Adelina Marini, August 12, 2011

On February 5, 2011 British Prime Minister David Cameron said at the international security conference in Munich: "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values". The context of this quote was terrorism in our own societies as posing the biggest threat of our time.

The British PM probably did not even had an idea that only half a year later he will have to say something else: "It is all too clear that we have a big problem with gangs in our country. For too long there’s been a lack of focus on the complete lack of respect shown by these groups of thugs. I’m clear that they are in no way representative of the vast majority of young people in our country who despise them, frankly, as much as the rest of us do, but there are pockets of our society that are not just broken but, frankly, sick. When we see children as young as 12 and 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of an injured young man with people pretending to help him while they are robbing him, it is clear there are things that are badly wrong in our society".

In the first case Mr Cameron was talking in principle about the biggest danger for national security, stemming from inside national borders. In the second - his words were caused by the riots that started from one of the poorest neighbourhoods in London and spread all over England.

The cause

The riots get inspired by a police story. The special CO19 unit of the police is holding an operation in Tottenham. Mark Duggan, who grew up and lived in the Broadwater Farm was coming home in a minicab on Thursday evening (August 4). Policemen from the unit approached the car, shots were fired and Duggan was killed. According to the initial reports, for which British media claim were usual practise (just like in Bulgaria by the way as it recently reminded us), claim that Duggan maybe somehow was looking for it. In the same time a policeman is presented as a hero of modern times because he caught a potential fatal bullet in his radio during the fire exchange.

Later however, after many checks and noise in society it becomes clear that maybe this is more of a internal police thing and that maybe Duggan did not shoot at the police.

The riots

The lack of information right after the incident forced some 200 people, relatives and friends of Duggan, to gather in front of the police office in Tottenham to protest against the lack of information. From then onward the events unfold with unexpected speed and take unexpected turn. All around North London (the poorer part of the city), under the vigilant eye of media copters, airing everything live, can be seen the multiplying fires of buildings, burning cars, looting, windows smashing, destruction of public property by gangs of in fact real thugs and unrealised representatives of British society.

Initially an attempt was made this riot, looting and destruction of public and private property to be explained as the riot of the young poor, whom the crisis and the horrible austerity measures deprived from work possibilities, which made them face hunger and misery. But the continuing footage going live on TV revealed an uglier picture that will crystallise in the next big acknowledgement of the British PM on of August 10: "The sight of those young people running down streets, smashing windows, taking property, looting, laughing as they go, the problem of that is a complete lack of responsibility, a lack of proper parenting, a lack of proper upbringing, a lack of proper ethics, a lack of proper morals. That is what we need to change. There is no one trigger that can change these things. It’s about parenting, it’s about discipline in schools, it’s about making sure we have a welfare system that does not reward idleness. It is all of those things".

Man learns from past mistakes only when they lead to big consequences. Pretty soon was another case, showing many of the same mistakes being piled for too long without being addressed properly - the terrorist act in Norway in which the Norwegian Anders Breivik shot dead tens of young Norwegians because of the non-solving of the problem with migrant integration in the country. Those killed were future politicians who were, according to Breivik, to continue to work for the integration of foreigners.

It was again this year when Denmark reinstated border control within the free zone of Schengen in order to stop the migrant flow that increased significantly because of the Arab Spring. Before that Italy and France were caught into a diplomatic skirmish, again because of the migrants.

Except David Cameron, about the failure of the concept of multiculturalism spoke also German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The latter, if you remember, was a home affairs minister when in France there were riots very similar to those in London and other cities of England. Back then he took strict measures by using force which caused severe criticism on behalf of human rights organisations.

Who is the enemy?

The situation gets even more unpleasant because of the fact that we can no longer easily say - that black one over there is to be blamed. We cannot point a finger neither at a Muslim nor at an Asian. And that became again very clear during the live events in Britain, when against the hooded youngsters with unpleasant faces from various colours stood the same colourful group of nicely looking citizens with brooms, who said "Enough!". "You are scum and we will no longer tolerate you!" Civil society in Britain proved to be strong and faced this disgrace.

The enemy are all those people who think someone owes them something. All those who think that because they do not get it they have the full right to destroy others' property. Those that are outside the law because they chose to hide from it. And in general, the enemy is all those whose spiritual evolution did not out-jump the simple need of bread and water. This enemy is a challenge for the developed societies because the enemy is hard to be distinguished.

Strong civil societies, however, in a combination with strong leadership are able to find quickly the right solution. Already efforts are under way in this direction and without the pretences that this is the right solution there is an example that deserves attention.

On August 4 the British government released a website for online petitions. The interest to the website was so big that it could not sustain the flux and crashed. According to media in Britain however, by the evening of August 10 over 78,000 people managed to sign a petition calling for the rioters to be deprived of all state payments. If the number of signatories of the petition reaches 100,000 this will cause a debate in the House of Commons, according to the online edition of the Mirror tabloid.

On August 11 before the House PM David Cameron said: "And to the lawless minority, the criminals who’ve taken what they can get. I say: We will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you. You will pay for what you have done". The Prime Minister was supported by the opposition Labour party leader Ed Miliband: "Whatever we disagree on week by week, month by month, today we stand united, condemning the violence and vandalism we have seen on our streets. The victims are the innocent people: Who live in many of our cities; Who have seen their homes and businesses destroyed; Their communities damaged; And their confidence about their own safety undermined. There can be no excuses, no justification. This behaviour has disgusted us all. It cannot be allowed to stand. We will not allow it to stand".

For sure though, Britain's problems will incandesce additionally the debate on the problems of migration, underlying from the very beginning on the wrong foundation. Among migrants there are people who share the values of host societies and integrate themselves successfully. Others, however, predominantly benefit from the welfare systems and remain capsuled thus providing abundant food to populists around Europe, as euinside wrote many times.

This autumn the European Commission is expected to propose a reform of the Schengen area. It is expected a comprehensive approach to immigration to be developed too. But all this will not solve the problem with the behaviour of the Roma people in the centre of Paris, nor the problem with migrants in the Netherlands, Germany of Britain. Even less it will solve the problem with non-integration of Roma in Bulgaria and Romania and even with the integration of a large part of the Bulgarians in the European community of shared values. The only way to solve the problem is firstly to acknowledge it and then to stop blaming each other of racism when we deprive a representative of a minority from social benefits.

"So, when a white person holds objectionable views, racist views for instance, we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views or practises come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious frankly – frankly, even fearful – to stand up to them. The failure, for instance, of some to confront the horrors of forced marriage, the practise where some young girls are bullied and sometimes taken abroad to marry someone when they don’t want to, is a case in point", said on February 5 PM David Cameron. We have to admit that he is right and start calling things with their real names. Otherwise it can get really dangerous. More than what is currently happening on the streets of Britain.