American cities are aflame.
Fires raging everywhere. Riots paralysing urban life. Manhattan tunnels and bridges blocked by the mob of ‘protesters’.
Cars ploughing through crowds. Rioters, no doubt made thirsty by the heat of burning rubbish, busting into off-licences.
Tear gas in the air. The state of emergency declared in Missouri. The governor solicitously recommending that white people don’t go out if they can help it.
‘Peaceful’ demonstrations rapidly becoming an orgy of vandalism and looting. State of emergency declared.
Do you sometimes feel that Americans are having all the fun?
Sure enough, we have our share of riots too. But ours are strictly local, almost parochial. They lack both breadth and depth.
The denizens of Tottenham may be wreaking most enjoyable havoc, but other postcodes of London remain quiet. And as to Liverpool or Newcastle, they may not even know what’s going on in the north of the capital.
Not so in America, and here I’d like to dispel the impression I may have given in the past by often describing our society as a lunatic asylum.
That may be, but we didn’t start the pandemic of madness. That honour belongs to the Americans, and they can still teach us a thing or two.
For example, from personal experience our papers don’t allow journalists to describe jury verdicts as wrong or, God forbid, unjust.
Due process has worked, justice has spoken and that’s all there is to it. To suggest that in a particular case justice spoke ungrammatically and with a bad accent is to bring into question the fundamental principles of our polity, which is discouraged.
Even the more radicalised segments of the British population grudgingly accept the rule of law, for the time being. And if this or that verdict seems unjust to them, they seldom express their feelings by setting cities on fire, although this may change before too long.
The events in Ferguson, the largely black suburb of St Louis, Mo, and the string of riots they’ve triggered all over the place, show that not all Americans have intuitive respect for the law coded into their DNA.
So what happened?
After weeks of deliberation, the grand jury decided that there were no grounds for prosecuting the police officer Darren Wilson for shooting the black teenager Michael Brown.
But the riots began even before the verdict. The very fact that the grand jury had to think about it was a sufficient trigger.
Any time a police officer, especially if he is white, shoots a black man, it’s racially inspired murder.
Large segments of the American population, and not necessarily just the blacks, don’t acknowledge that sometimes the officer may be acting in self-defence.
If the prison population in America is 80 per cent black, it’s not because black Americans commit more crimes. It’s because they are discriminated against, as many left-leaning Americans have kindly explained to me.
This is the good story, and no facts are allowed to interfere with it. That’s why President Obama implicitly endorsed the legitimacy of the rioters’ grievances by sending three of his administration’s officials to attend Michael Brown’s funeral.
The circumstances of the case are well known. Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were quietly going about their business, which that August evening involved robbing a convenience store.
Afterwards they walked home in the middle of the street, smoking their stolen cigars.
Officer Wilson stopped his car, rolled down the window and told them to get on the pavement.
In response, Brown rushed to the car and started throwing punches through the window, causing the officer numerous lacerations and, by some accounts, a broken eye socket.
Now Michael was not only a bad boy but also a big one. Standing 6’4” and weighing the better part of 21 stone, he had a clear advantage over officer Wilson in unarmed combat.
That’s why the combat didn’t remain unarmed for long. Wilson pulled out a gun and the boys ran away in opposite directions.
Wilson ran after Brown, who suddenly turned around and advanced on the policeman. Fearing for his continued good health, Wilson shot Brown six times, the last shot proving lethal.
Examining reams of evidence, including CCTV footage, the grand jury cleared officer Wilson of all charges, and riots ensued.
The rioters, inspired by the rousing pleas of the Brown family, are demanding justice, which in civilised countries is usually associated with due process.
But American blacks have been corrupted by their white ‘liberal’ champions into believing that true justice has little to do with the law. Each case in which a black man is the victim has to be judged by the higher law of righting an historical wrong.
The blacks have been conditioned to identify themselves by their race first and their nationality a distant second. Yet ‘African Americans’ aren’t really African, and they are encouraged to think they aren’t really American either.
They are members of the international and supranational communion of victims, which also includes women, homosexuals, Darwinists, champions of sustainable energy, Muslims – in fact, anyone who sees himself as a victim.
This whole mindset is generally deplorable, and indeed I’ve deplored it on many occasions. Yet, specifically talking about American blacks, one has to wonder if the Americans are reaping what they’ve sown.
For black slavery did exist in America until the 1860s, and Jim Crow discrimination in the South for a hundred years after that.
In that, America largely compromised her founding principles and indeed claims to Christian antecedents, which was brilliantly pointed out by Dr Johnson: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”
Past sins tend to come back to haunt not only individuals but also countries. Can it be that America is now paying the price for past wrongs, exacerbated by the wrong of knee-jerk post-Enlightenment liberalism?
Sins can be repented, which in this case America has done. Correcting them is something else again, and no easy solutions exist.
America did indeed opt for easy solutions by creating a huge black underclass bankrolled by the public purse, corrupting it with a sense of automatic entitlement and practising ‘affirmative action’, otherwise known as reverse discrimination.
This didn’t so much solve the old problem as replaced it with a new one. Ferguson, Missouri, provides a vivid illustration of that but not a useful lesson.
No lessons, especially those of history, are ever useful in the madhouse of modernity. It’s proud of its madness.
My new book, Democracy as a Neocon Trick, is available from Amazon and the more discerning bookshops. However, my publisher would rather you ordered it from http://www.roperpenberthy.co.uk/index.php/browse-books/political/democracy-as-a-neocon-trick.htmlor, in the USA, http://www.newwinebookshop.com/Books/0002752