London's PM Tony Blair Leaves Office With Fists Swinging
Perhaps he needed to vent some frustration and decided to use his final weeks of a ten-year position as Prime Minister to â€˜let it all hang outâ€™, Tony Blair made his feelings clear about the spate of violence among Londonâ€™s black youth. While acknowledging that social and economic factors play a part in the culture of violence, he stated on Thursday that it was â€œa distinctive black cultureâ€ that was the primary factor:
"Economic inequality is a factor and we should deal with that, but I don't think it's the thing that is producing the most violent expression of this social alienation," Blair told reporters after the address. "I think that is to do with the fact that particular youngsters are being brought up in a setting that has no rules, no discipline, no proper framework around them," Blair said. "We need to stop thinking of this as a society that has gone wrong â€“ it has not â€“ but of specific groups that for specific reasons have gone outside of the proper lines of respect and good conduct towards others and need specific measures to be brought back into the fold."
Apparently inspired by a conversation with a black pastor of a London church, Reverend Nims Obunge, the Prime Minister said that the Reverend said that political correctness played a deterring factor in people avoiding the root causes of violence. But the pastor later refuted his comments to Blair, saying:
Mr Obunge, who confirmed that he attended the Downing Street summit chaired by Mr Blair in February, said of the prime minister: "He makes it look like I said it's the black community doing it. What I said is it's making the black community more vulnerable and they need more support and funding for the work they're doing. ... He has taken what I said out of context. We came for support and he has failed and has come back with more police powers to use against our black children."
Community activists are enraged at Blairâ€™s comments, saying that the British Parliament â€œmust also take some responsibility for creating this environment of continuing marginalization, which has been allowed to fester for decades."
"I am infuriated. Nobody in the black community is denying there is a problem. Even I acknowledge we have our `iffies.' We have a problem with our young kids, a very small minority of whom are out of control with knives and guns," said anti-gun campaigner Cheryl Sealey, co-ordinator of the London-based Victim Aid.
"But there is an entire catalogue of reasons for this violence and an entire catalogue of solutions. And Tony Blair, in the spirit and tone of his remarks, is completely ignoring the fact that his government has all but abandoned the community workers who are trying so hard to turn things around."
Halfrican looks at the 'culture of violence' within the Football (soccer)leagues, immensley popular in Europe and wonders if Blair is simiarly concerned with that:
Blair's speech is a perfect example of white privilege: when whites commit crimes, they are simply criminals, and their crimes are of no reflection on their families, friends, and ethnic background. But when black people commit crimes, it is a problem of our "culture" which is a polite way of repeating the old wives tale that black people are more disposed to criminal activity than white people. After the Middle Passage, the Holocaust, European Colonialism in Africa and Asia, Apartheid, Segregation, you'd think that few world leaders could make the statement that a specific ethnic group is responsible for or predisposed to violence and be taken seriously, or do so without condemnation.
It looks like Blair, just like George Bush when he leaves office, will leave a huge mess for the next leader to clean up.