Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tony Lets One Slip

As American radio talk show host Don Imus is pilloried by the usual race hustlers for a crude remark about a women's college basketball team, the Prime Minister of Great Britain has committed a racial faux pas of his own. The difference between the two incidents is that Mr. Blair's slip-of-the-tongue wasn't an offensive insult, but rather a statement of fact. And for that, he will likely be all the more vilified.

Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture. His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem.
One accused him of misunderstanding the advice he had been given on the issue at a Downing Street summit.

Black community leaders reacted after Mr Blair said the recent violence should not be treated as part of a general crime wave, but as specific to black youth. He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it".

The truly amazing part of this story is that Tony Blair said it. Mr. Blair has been very busy during the course of his disastrous term as prime minister writing into law politically correct multiculturalism. (Dennis Dale provides a splendid evisceration of Blair's foreign and domestic security policies over at Untethered.) It was Mr. Blair who tried very hard to steer a law through parliament that would have made it a crime to criticize religion (heavily supported by British Muslims) in just about any way. It is Mr. Blair who has pressed "anti-racism" laws directed and enforced solely against white Britons, who can find themselves taken in by the police for simply expressing a non-politically correct opinion. Mr. Blair has spent almost a decade doing eveything he could to undermine traditional British culture and national identity. Now, in the twilight (one hopes) of his time at 10 Downing Street, he pipes up - in defiance of his conduct over the past ten years - to tell the truth, just once.

Giving the Callaghan lecture in Cardiff, the prime minister admitted he had been "lurching into total frankness" in the final weeks of his premiership. He called on black people to lead the fight against knife crime. He said that "the black community - the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law abiding people horrified at what is happening - need to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids".

Mr Blair said he had been moved to make his controversial remarks after speaking to a black pastor of a London church at a Downing Street knife crime summit, who said: "When are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community and not, for reasons of political correctness, pretend that this is nothing to do with it?" Mr Blair said there needed to be an "intense police focus" on the minority of young black Britons behind the gun and knife attacks. The laws on knife and gun gangs needed to be toughened and the ringleaders "taken out of circulation".

Naturally, the usual suspects are, as usual, OUTRAGED!

Last night, British African-Caribbean figures leading the fight against gang culture condemned Mr Blair's speech. The Rev Nims Obunge, chief executive of the Peace Alliance, one of the main organisations working against gang crime, denounced the prime minister.

Mr Obunge, who attended the Downing Street summit chaired by Mr Blair in February, said he had been cited by 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."

Keith Jarrett, chair of the National Black Police Association, whose members work with vulnerable youngsters, said: "Social deprivation and delinquency go hand in hand and we need to tackle both. It is curious that the prime minister does not mention deprivation in his speech."

What Mr. Jarrett means to say is that he thinks the U.K. government isn't providing enough welfare to its black citizens, thus causing them to commit violence. One wonders, then, why other ethnic groups - say, Chinese, or Japanese - don't exhibit the same levels of violent crime even when faced with similar economic conditions. Or why those same groups rather quickly lift themselves out of poverty, while other groups seem to disproportionately reside in poverty, no matter where they live all over the world. But those are questions that Mr. Jarrett will never ask, or want answered. Better to demand more welfare and government benefits, because that prescription has worked so very well for blacks and other minorities in Britain (and America).

Apparently, Mr. Blair doesn't buy the "social deprivation argument."

Answering questions later Mr Blair said: "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.

"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."

Some people working with children knew at the age of five whether they were going to be in "real trouble" later, he said.

Mr Blair is known to believe the tendency for many black boys to be raised in families without a father leads to a lack of appropriate role models.

He said: "We need to stop thinking of this as a society that has gone wrong - it has not - but of specific groups that for specific reasons have gone outside of the proper lines of respect and good conduct towards others and need by specific measures to be brought back into the fold."

If he really means this - and with Mr. Blair it's often hard to tell - then he'd better explain that to the members of his cabinet.

Mr Blair's remarks are at odds with those of the Home Office minister Lady Scotland, who told the home affairs select committee last month that the disproportionate number of black youths in the criminal justice system was a function of their disproportionate poverty, and not to do with a distinctive black culture.

On a hopeful note...

The Commission for Racial Equality broadly backed Mr Blair, saying people "shouldn't be afraid to talk about this issue for fear of sounding prejudiced".

Given that the Commission for Racial Equality is itself one of the primary reasons Britons feel afraid to talk about racial issues, that statement is, well, ironic, to say the least.

Mr. Blair's comments aren't much; but it's a start.


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