Law and Disorder, Spread the Wealth, and Kristallnacht

The justice system only works if criminals are “brought to justice.” When crimes are committed by mobs of criminals, there’s little hope of that ever happening. While the media continue to fret over Casey Anthony’s “freedom,” mobs of violent criminals are storming through the streets here and in England—and getting away with murder more certainly than she did.

I suppose that’s what troubles me most about the American justice system these days: prosecutors and judges can’t distinguish between law-breakers who make serious mistakes for which they should be duly punished (not executed) and law-breakers who have no concept of the law at all. The justice system is so heavily politicized that it gravitates to sensational, personal tragedies in which beautiful young women are involved as either the criminal or the victim. The system can’t recognize, let alone cope with, national tragedies and the breakdown of social cohesion.

The media, of course, can only deal with simple, little things—like a plastic bag with a child’s bones in it or the disappearance of beautiful blond girls on the island of Aruba. And they are obliged for profit purposes to cover only crimes committed in states where cameras are allowed in courtrooms. So, whatever happens in Florida is big news, but crimes in Illinois are nothing (even when the fourth governor since 1973 is now in jail, three of whom were Democrats, not Republicans).

But Casey Anthony was never anything more than a disturbed girl who neglected or abused her child to death and then tried to cover it up. We’re ignoring whole cultures of young people who are committing violent crimes against not only individuals but society who never will be brought before a jury for justice.

London Riots

Last week I was in London and a nearby town on the nights of rioting. I don’t know how the riots were covered here in America, but the media coverage in England was very, very strange.

At first when the riot was contained to the Tottenham Court neighborhood, the media chewed their white knuckles and puzzled over the reasons why young people would do such things: “Why? Surely this isn’t going to continue. This isn’t the beginning of a rebellion, an English Spring?”

Tottenham Court is a central tube station in London—not a slum neighborhood. While buildings burned overhead at street level, I and hordes of other tourists passed through the station. The trains didn’t stop at Tottenham Court. Instead the conductors said, “A fire alarm has been sounded at the next stop. The train will stop but not open its doors.” And “Due to circumstances at this time there will be no service to Tottenham Court.”

The next day, video of the riots showed that the rioters weren’t just any and all young people. They were minorities who clearly were of immigrant families from former English colonies in Jamaica and South Asia or the Middle East. The victims were also minority immigrants. These weren’t race riots against white oppressors. They weren’t riots against austerity measures—because the rioters aren’t affected by Britain’s budget cuts.

They were riots of “pensioners,” young people “on the dole,” “on benefits,” people with no jobs—not because they can’t find work. They don’t want to work. Why should they? They don’t need to work, because they are given everything they want.

The next night the riots spread to cities like Nottingham, which I visited several years ago. In those days, there was a riot every Friday and Saturday night in Nottingham. Nothing burned; the young people got drunk and went wilding. In the lobby of the hotel where I was staying a brawl broke out at a wedding party. In smaller cities like Nottingham, for many years the young people have behaved as if it was Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale every weekend.

In the small city where I was last week, Colchester (the oldest town in England), the proprietor of the bed and breakfast where I stayed was so concerned about street violence that he closed the English Civil War-era shutters (last used in the Siege of Colchester in the seventeenth century) for the first time since he had owned the building. Fortunately, there were no riots in Colchester. But neither is there a large immigrant population, and its young people tend to be serious students at the highly technical University of Essex. (Yes, they got drunk and staggered through the streets at night, but they did no harm.)

Eventually the London media learned that the London mayor and chief of police had told the cops during the Tottenham Court riots not to arrest anyone “lest they hurt someone.” As a result, of course, the rioters did not get hurt—only innocents did. Several young people were killed. Some were raped. Businesses were destroyed so that their employees can now enjoy the “benefits.”

Soon afterwards the Prime Minister called on his cabinet to return from their vacations to deal with the crisis. A few of them came home to London. Many did not. The mayor of London finally issued orders to arrest rioters. The rioting promptly stopped.

Over the next few days they began to identify the looters and most violent of the criminals from CCTV surveillance videos. One of the arrested rioters was a 15-year-old boy whose young mother “didn’t know where he was at two in the morning.” (The media were careful to say, though, they “did not want to stigmatize single mothers.” I guess they would have treated Casey Anthony with more respect, too.)

The victims were identified, too—young people who were murdered, rape victims, the owner of a modest family-run department store that was burned to the ground. This is significant—it wasn’t Harrad’s or Selfridges that burned. It was a smallish store, but one just big enough to look as if its owners were richer than the rioters.

Eventually the Prime Minister and others began to call for a withdrawal of “benefits” from the rioters. For those who don’t know, in England no one has to work or pay for their own homes. The government provides not only a living stipend to anyone who wants it but also any home they want to live in. For instance, it was revealed last week that a refugee Somali family was living in a 2 million pound home in the neighborhood of actress Emma Thompson at taxpayer expense (the pound is worth more than the dollar is today). How many unemployed people do you know who live in a $2 million home? Or for that matter how many employed people?

Kristallnacht All Over Again

In Nazi Germany in 1938, one night gangs of youths stormed through Jewish neighborhoods, rioting, looting, smashing shop windows, killing. That night was known as Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) because of the shattered glass that lay everywhere afterwards.

Kristallnacht was one of the most evil events in modern history. It happened because the Nazi government in Germany made it crystal clear to the youthful thugs of the era that they were entitled to take whatever they wanted as long as it was from Jews, to destroy anything Jews had, to rape and kill Jews.

In England the government has made it crystal clear to youthful thugs that they don’t have to get a job, they don’t have to do anything, and everything is theirs to destroy or take, as they choose.

I have been to England several times over four decades. This most-recent visit was the first time I hated being in London. I hated walking on the streets, because the crowds of young people wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence; they shouldered and elbowed me aside; they bashed me with their handbags; they pushed me through turnstiles. The undergro
und was a nightmare: it was hellishly hot; half the stops were under construction and inaccessible because of “upgrades” for next year’s Olympics; several times I found myself in long, narrow, low-ceilinged tunnels pressed up against crowds of people who were at a complete standstill because there weren’t enough trains. It was even worse than my memories of New York City in the Sixties and Seventies. (In those days, it was before anyone Red heart‘ed New York.)

And all the English politeness and exactitude was gone, too. No one seemed to know what they were doing. The trains were all late. The signs displaying times and destinations were wrong. No one knew how to get from point A to point B. Every question and request for assistance or directions was met with a sigh, a head shake, a rebuke: “What does the sign say? Isn’t that what the sign says?”

For the first time, I came home to the Chicago area feeling relieved to be out of England. Then, guess what happened?

Kristallnacht came to Chicago, but now it isn’t only Jews who are the targets—it’s everybody who owns anything.

A group of men “of mixed ethnicity” (or a flash mob, if you prefer) forced their way into a private home in broad daylight less than three blocks from my suburban home. Apparently the home was picked on a whim by a carload of thugs who just happened to be passing by on the Illinois state highway that runs through Chicago’s western suburbs. It isn’t a road that looks like a highway; it’s a very old road that connects with a nearby interstate, only two lanes with a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit. The town is Victorian-era.  The street is residential and lined with ancient oaks and elms.

(The local police chief is now playing down the incident. Instead of portraying it as a home invasion as he originally did, he’s now claiming it was one of a previously unreported series of “ruse burglaries” in which burglars claim to be utility workers in order to gain access to homes. My, that really calms my fears.)

I knew that for the past year Chicago’s “Gold Coast” area along Lake Michigan had been targeted by flash mobs of youths from the South Side. But I had never before heard of a flash mob invading a private home. Have you?

In Chicago the flash mobs get on the subway and ride up to North Michigan Avenue where the most-exclusive shops and luxury hotels are. They flood into designer-clothing shops and in plain view of surveillance cameras try on clothes and then just walk out with them. As in London, the cops are being told to “let it be.” The mayor has pulled most of the cops off the streets because of budget issues, and retailers have to employ private security firms for protection.

Why do they do it? Because they can. Why did the Somali family move into actress Emma Thompson’s neighborhood? When asked they claimed not to speak English and refused to explain why.

The real question is why do politicians let people get away with this kind of behavior? IMHO, it’s because politicians aren’t incented to do anything but get reelected—just as prosecutors and judges aren’t incented to do anything but convict and execute high-profile defendants.

Chicago flash mobs clearly feel entitled to spread the wealth around as they see fit. They clearly do not respect private property. I can only suppose their thinking goes like this: if it’s offered for sale to the public and the flash mobbers are the public, then they must be entitled to the goods, even if they can’t pay for them.

On the East Coast, I’ve heard that flash mobs are targeting 7-Elevens and other quick-stop stores. It isn’t surprising, is it? If it’s okay to take luxury goods, it must be okay to take cheap stuff, too.

But what made the flash mob that invaded the home in my neighborhood think they were entitled to what was inside a randomly chosen suburban house? I guess we’re back to the days of “Eat the Rich,” but now “the rich” are anyone who has more than you do—even if it’s more they earned by selling Slurpies at a 7-Eleven.

This is anarchy. These criminals will never be brought to justice. No jury will ever hear their side of the story. The victims will never be compensated. Meanwhile, in Florida, law enforcement and the justice system whine on and on about Casey Anthony and how her jailors stupidly signed papers admitting she served her probation for a minor check fraud crime while being held on other charges.