Pogrom meme

by Chris Bertram on October 30, 2005

I got quite a bit of flak in comments last week for using the word “pogrom” to allude to the parallels between the rumour-driven riots in Birmingham and the persecution of Jews in 19th-century eastern Europe. Insofar as “pogrom” suggests some kind of official sanction, the word probably had slightly misleading connotations. But I see that both the conservative columnist Theodore Dalrymple and the Observer’s Nick Cohen have also noticed the echoes. Dalrymple wrote:

The rumour that a 14-year-old black girl had been caught shoplifting by a Pakistani shopkeeper in the Lozells area of Birmingham, and subsequently raped in revenge by a score of his compatriots, is highly reminiscent of the blood libels that used to sweep through Tsarist Russia at the end of the 19th century and led to vicious pogroms.

And comments:

Of all the paradoxes of the situation, none is greater than that the Muslim traders of Lozells, among whom an unthinking anti-Semitism is probably widespread, should now find themselves in the position of the petty-trading Jews of Tsarist Russia, Moldavia and Romania.

And Cohen refers to Dalrymple and then generalizes the the work of Amy Chua:

In World on Fire, published two years ago and which deserved far more attention than it received, Amy Chua showed how globalisation had created an explosion of racism in the anti-semitic tradition. The new wave of capitalism had raised the living standards of ordinary people by a little and the rich by a lot, her argument ran. The supporters of free markets and democracy thought everyone was benefiting and hadn’t noticed that their ideas helped fuel resentments in those countries where ethnic minorities dominated business.

Thoughts that are outrageous on Crooked Timber on Monday, are conservative talking-points by Wednesday and the conventional wisdom of the “decent” left by the following Sunday. Maybe I should be worried about that!

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1

yabonn 10.30.05 at 6:03 am

Of all the paradoxes of the situation, none is greater than that the Muslim traders of Lozells, among whom an unthinking anti-Semitism is probably widespread

Why of course it’s “unthinking”. Those ragheads wouldn’t recognise a racism if it hit them in the face, would they? How paradoxal.

… Ah, the Telegraph.

2

echo 10.30.05 at 8:22 am

Last week I noticed that in using the definition from dictionary.com, someone failed to include this: “n : organized persecution of an ethnic group (especially Jews)”, which of course is derived from the Russian ‘pogromit’ [outrage, havoc, to wreak havoc”….].

It’s easy to get lost in semantics rather than confronting the obvious.

3

a 10.30.05 at 8:48 am

“Maybe I should be worried about that!”

Indeed you should!

4

bruschetta boy 10.30.05 at 9:15 am

more reaction to this at Aaronovitch Watch (incorporating “Nick Cohen Watch”). It’s worth noting that both Dalrymple and Cohen equivocate back and forth between race (which appears to have been the basis of these riots) and religion (which is the axe that they really want to grind). Nick specifically says that the Asians in Lozells were Hindu, Muslim and Sikh, but then ends up concluding that the real lesson of the riots is that faith schools are bad.

5

abb1 10.30.05 at 9:27 am

I don’t know about the ‘official sanction’. I seem to remember reading a book (Isaac Babel’s, most likely) where the author describes redneck pogromists wearing several thick jackets in anticipation of being confronted by whip-swinging cossacks dispatched by the authorities. The notion that it was usually officially sanctioned is arguable.

6

Cryptic Ned 10.30.05 at 10:48 am

With Muslims now being the victims of pogroms, I see a crisis of belief ahead for The New Republic.

7

e-tat 10.30.05 at 12:00 pm

I apologise in advance for the length, vitriol and lack of reference to pogrom in this comment, but Dalrymple’s piece is patently offensive, and I feel entitled to a sharp remark in response. Maybe a letter to the Telegraph would be more appropriate, but the point will not be lost on this audience.

Dalrymple’s presumptions and uninformed ideas about Birmingham places and residents exemplifies the blood libel he pretends to abhor, and as they appear in a national newspaper, it’s worth making the point that he’s making things worse.

His characterisations of Birmingham places and people are consistently off-the-mark, and in lieu of accuracy he parrots simple-minded stereotypes about inner-city Birmingham and the people who live there. For instance, he would like us to believe that Asian and West Indian ‘communities’ are saturated with loathing for each other. He has no use for any evidence of tolerance between minority groups (even though it can be found quite easily), and would much prefer to see – and sow – divisions. He is, in an entirely obvious way, perpetrating racist stereotypes about people and place, in a way that is consistent with the aims of blood libel: to discredit and demonise a particular group of people, notably for political ends.

Dalrymple is apparently clueless about local history, and would do well to make even the most cursory check into the character and community spirit of the place, the earlier riots, and even some basic geography (this in spite of being identified by Cohen as a Birmingham doctor). His characterisations of Lozells and Handsworth are off the mark – not least because Lozells is a Handsworth neighbourhood, but also because he misrepresents Handsworth as ‘famous for its riots’ – without bothering to note that the ‘Handsworth riots’ of 1985 occurred mainly along Lozells Road; the same road, the same neighbourhood, the same place as the scene of last week’s violence. So, which is it, Doctor, one place, or two? And which is the ‘violent’ one? Or is it now two places of violence, side by side, in an escalating destruction of inner-cities?

It seems Dalrymple doesn’t know or care about the geography, history, or social conditions of the place, but prefers instead to circulate misinformation about Asians, Jamaicans, Pakistanis, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and all of the other people in the area. In this way his misrepresentation of people for political purposes is rather wider than the blood libel against Jews. It is also disgraceful, and maybe pernicious, that someone writing in a nationally prominent newspaper can be so thoughtless.

Note also that one of the remarks here refers to media ‘betrayal’ as a factor in the 1985 riots. Dalrymple’s comments can be seen in the same light, and that irresponsible news media may have something to do with local anger towards those who misrepresent the place.

8

Keith M Ellis 10.30.05 at 12:04 pm

“With Muslims now being the victims of pogroms, I see a crisis of belief ahead for The New Republic.”

I must have misread those scores of articles over eight years about Bosnian Muslims and urging intervention on their behalf. That’s weird.

We’re in deep irony territory now, aren’t we?

9

Chris Bertram 10.30.05 at 12:14 pm

e-tat – isn’t Dalrymple/Daniels actually _from_ Birmingham (or at least a longstanding resident)?

10

Dan Hardie 10.30.05 at 12:45 pm

The narcissism and triviality on display in this post- and the previous post, and worst of all the comments sections- are just staggering. We’re ostensibly talking about a race riot which led to the murders of at least two men. And what are the subjects of debate?

Whether or not the word pogrom can be used of riot aimed at non-Jews; and then, even more trivially, whether or not one should be ‘worried’ if one uses an argument that is later used by a Tory (‘Dalrymple’, real name Anthony Daniels) and then by Nick Cohen (loud booing from the audience).

Would you all be so concerned with these minor points of semantics and political tribalism if the two black men had been murdered by mobs of racist whites, rather than by Asians?

11

e-tat 10.30.05 at 1:03 pm

Chris – you probably know more about him than I do, but a brief Google has him living in France, in semi-retirement after working ‘in a decayed district of the Birmingham conurbation and as a prison doctor’, and just as saliently, the author of an infamous diatribe about Walsall:

While Walsall undoubtedly exists, it is difficult to know where precisely it begins and ends, because it is in the middle of one of the largest and most depressing contiguous areas of urban devastation in the world. … To the hideousness of nineteenth-century industrialization is added the desolation of twentieth-century obsolescence. The Black Country looks like Ceaucescu’s Romania with fast food outlets.

This doesn’t tell us much about whether he knows the streets and people of the city and region, but given his appetite for hyperbole, I suspect that he’s riffing on ignorance; that he knows little of where he speaks.

12

Daniel 10.30.05 at 1:41 pm

It’s also possible to live for a loooong time in a place (particularly if you live as a middle-class person in a poor area) without having any real clue about what it’s like. I became suspicious of Dalrymple when he started claiming that ethnic groceries in poor neighbourhoods had lots of fresh vegetables when they definitely don’t; they have lots of quite old, tired vegetables.

13

Dan Simon 10.30.05 at 1:42 pm

Thoughts that are outrageous on Crooked Timber on Monday, are conservative talking-points by Wednesday and the conventional wisdom of the “decent” left by the following Sunday. Maybe I should be worried about that!

Only if you take ideology seriously. Those of us who recognize “ideology” as being, in practice, a set of political alliances, rather than political ideas, are completely unsurprised. The “left” is (these days) generally allied with Blacks, immigrants, Muslims, criminals, the poor and the unemployed, against Whites, racists, businesspeople and the police. The “right’s” alliances are basically the mirror image of the “left’s”. So what are both sides to do when the police try to stop poor, unemployed, racist Black criminals from attacking racist immigrant Muslim businesspeople?

Well, they massage the story to make it align more comfortably with their alliances. The “real” battle, they conclude, was between poor people/criminals and businesspeople, or between oppressed/troublemaking minorities and the police, or between more and less assimilated/establishment-allied immigrants–whatever it takes to avoid thinking beyond “us vs. them”.

(By the way, I lambaste Amy Chua’s contemptible thesis here.)

14

Rob L. 10.30.05 at 2:42 pm

Oh dear, I guess Dalrymple really doesn’t know, afterall, what he’s talking about.

Hmm. I guess that’s why Dalrymple writes such a beautifully wrought, devastatingly hilarious beat-down of his shitty little Leftist goose-stepping apparatchik resentiment-infused critics (congenital Leftist activity to which this weblog is Exhibit A testimony) here:

http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/19/feb01/walsall.htm

15

Peter H 10.30.05 at 5:12 pm

Dan Simon,

I have to say, I am surprised at your review of Amy Chua’s book. Chua repeatedly emphasizes that she neither opposes free markets and democracy nor blames free markets and democracy for all the evils of the world. The book was even endorsed by Thomas Sowell.

16

abb1 10.30.05 at 6:00 pm

Says Dan Simon:

Unless, of course, you were visiting Yale law professor Amy Chua, who (I’m not joking) blames “free-market democracy” for creating (again, this is really her phrase) “market-dominant minorities”. “[T]he pursuit of free-market democracy,” she writes in the New York Times, “often becomes an engine of ethnic nationalism, pitting a frustrated indigenous majority, easily aroused by demagogic politicians, against a resented, wealthy ethnic minority.” That’s right–freedom, prosperity and democracy allow envy and racism to surface, and the problem, in places like Zimbabwe and Indonesia (she explicitly cites those two examples), is therefore with freedom, prosperity and democracy.

I didn’t read the piece, but from what’s quoted it seems that her whole point is that free-market capitalist democracy is not necessarily an equivalent of freedom, prosperity and democracy. You, Dan, seem to be missing the point completely. If you’re serious about confronting her, you need to address her argument instead of just ranting.

Does this social-economic system tend to create affluent minorities that produce resentment (with brutality or without)? Is it a good feature? Probably not, but then – is it a ‘necessary evil’? These are, it seems to me, some of the questions you need to address here.

17

Dan Hardie 10.30.05 at 6:30 pm

Want more narcissistic and trivial comment? Step forward one Canadian chickenhawk and torture apologist- with the sheer nerve to call someone else’s views contemptible, presumably because she wasn’t slavering about hurting prisoners- and one monomaniacal American leftie giving us the benefit of his thousandth ‘Chomsky for beginners’ speech.

Any comment on the race riots and murders in the UK? Well, no: Abb1 and Dan ‘Armchair torturer’ Simon don’t live there, so it doesn’t matter.

18

commenter 10.30.05 at 10:56 pm

Mr. Hardie: er, do you have any comment on the race riots and murders in the UK, in lieu of the ‘narcissistic’ and ‘trivial’?

19

Dan Simon 10.31.05 at 12:14 am

Chua repeatedly emphasizes that she neither opposes free markets and democracy nor blames free markets and democracy for all the evils of the world.

Perhaps not for all the evils of the world, but apparently for the inequalities associated with “market-dominant minorities”. At least, that’s how I understood her New York Times op-ed. Perhaps her book is more circumspect.

(As for Dan Hardie–whatever he says about me–anyone around here who’s willing to take the trouble to heap ridicule on Abb1’s comments can’t be all bad….)

20

abb1 10.31.05 at 2:53 am

Well, Dan, it takes all kinds; I’m sure even you would be able to come up with something interesting to say if not for this regrettable urge to flame.

Oh, and Dan, almost forgot, you say:

…But others–modern America being an obvious example–treat such groups with tolerance, and moreover usually end up sharing in their economic blessings.

But what about the LA riots of 1992? Wikipedia has this:

…there were many other factors cited as reasons for the unrest, including […] specific anger over the light sentence given to a Korean shop-owner for the shooting of Latasha Harlins, a young African-American woman.

Commentators on the eruption of violence emphasize tensions arising from the changing demographics of South Central as building factors to the riots. The racial makeup of historically black neighborhoods changed as Hispanics took up residency and Koreans bought formerly black owned liquor and small grocery stores. According to census data, in the historically black areas affected by the riots, the Hispanic population increased 119% over the decade leading up to the violence.[1] Economic competition between races in the labor force and in small enterprise provoked more racial animosity; in particular, the 1980s saw downtown Los Angeles’ businesses fire most of their black-dominated janitorial staffs and replace them with Latino immigrants earning half the wages paid to their unionized black predecessors. The fracture between Korean businesses and the black residents they served was also especially pronounced. The black community complained of poor treatment by store owners and inflated prices.

freedom, prosperity and democracy? …end up sharing in their economic blessings?

Any comment on this? Thanks.

21

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 7:33 am

Shorter Abb1/Dan Simon: As an American/Canadian resident in the US, I regard the comments thread of a post on UK race riots as a marvellous opportunity to talk about the United States, the whole United States and only the United States. Gee, why do foreigners think that Americans are self-obsessed, self-pitying nationalists with a gross ignorance of foreign countries?

22

harry b 10.31.05 at 8:11 am

I always assumed abb1 was in the UK. DOn’t know why.

The Dalrymple piece in the New Criterion makes him seem like a complete and utter twit. Self-obsessed to boot. Didn’t read anythign else by him and now, won’t.

23

abb1 10.31.05 at 9:11 am

Shorter Dan Hardie: I really hate a couple of commenters here and I’m totally nuts.

24

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 9:24 am

Shorter Abb1 (continued): Race riots? This is all about me! Me! Me!

25

Nick Cohen 10.31.05 at 9:26 am

Whichever idiot it was who said I was confusing race and religion should answer the following questions:

How many white children are going to go to Muslim schools?
How many black children are going to go to Jewish schools?
How many brown children are going to go to Christian schools?
If the answer to all of these questions is ‘hardly any,’ and it is, then faith schools will divide children by religion AND race.
Why you pseudo-leftists are so keen on segregation is a wonder of the age.

26

abb1 10.31.05 at 9:44 am

Shorter Dan Hardie: please help me! I have a severe case of verbal diarrhea and can’t stop spewing crazy nonsense!

27

Chris Bertram 10.31.05 at 9:45 am

Hello Nick.

I think it was “Bruschetta Boy” who suggested you equivocate between race and religion. You could probably have ascertained that by reading the thread properly. An effective reply would have been to demonstrate that you do not equivocate. Instead you’ve chose to attribute to un-named “pseudo leftists” a keenness for segregation.

I assume that you are referring to the regular writers for CT, rather than sundry random commentators?

In which case I think it reasonable to ask you for the basis on which you assert that we are keen on segretation in schooling (or elsewhere for that matter).

In fact there is no basis for such a charge, so it was ill advised of you to start sounding off about “idiots” making groundless assertions.

28

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 9:48 am

At the risk of being excommunicated from the antiwar left forever, can I say I largely agreed with Nick Cohen’s piece. Even if one didn’t agree with it, at least the man had the decency to write about the issue at hand (ie ethnic riots) based on some knowledge of Birmingham rather than footling away about whether one could or couldn’t use the word ‘pogrom’ about gentiles or ‘worrying’ about what Tories (hiss) or pro-war lefties (double hiss) were saying.

As for Bruschetta Boy’s strictures on Cohen confusing race and religion: read either Cohen’s own piece, or any of the news reporting coming out of Brum, and one can see that both race and religion are contributing to the division of the affected community: hardly an insight of Weberian complexity.

Eg one side in the rioting was largely ‘Asian’ but a flashpoint for the local youths appears to have been the stoning of a mosque; one side in the riot was ‘black’, but the demonstration which helped lead to the riot was organised by and took place outside a local Baptist church (and the black DJ who helped whip up the rape story was apparently also linked to the church).

In support of Cohen, anyone who thinks that the proliferation of religious education will not increase ethnic divisions either a)has never lived in an inner city b) has done so but has had no contact with the inhabitants and c) has never heard of a place called Northern Ireland.

Of course Muslim schools are going to increase racial separation: yes, ‘Muslim’ is not a racial category but a religious one, but in case you hadn’t damn well noticed the majority of the Muslims in this country are of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin, with smaller numbers of Somalis, West Africans and Gujaratis. And can anyone take issue -seriously, now- with Cohen’s point that it is disgusting – and also dangerous-
that there should be such things as ‘Asian Community Centres’ or ‘Black Community Centres’ rather than ‘Community Centres’?

If Bruschetta Boy is Dave Weeden, that’s a bit sad: you’ve let your dislike of a pro-Iraq-war lefty overwhelm your intelligence.

29

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 9:49 am

Btw, if Bruschetta Boy isn’t Dave Weeden, my heartfelt apologies to an excellent writer.

30

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 9:59 am

In all fairness that there is no sign at all that Chris Bertram or any of the other CT writers (as opposed to comments section bods) has ever shown the slightest support for the religious and/or racial segregation of education, or of anything else. It’s unfair to suggest Chris B might be supporting the religious schools policy, or any other measure of religious or racial separation.

Having said that, Chris Bertram’s original post a) talked about ‘communities’ without naming blacks and Asians (which at the very least is the kind of mealy-mouthed approach to race relations that does us no favours in this kind of situation) and b) spoke of Asians (without naming them) as entirely the victims of a pogrom-style assault, without mentioning that the first murder victim, at least, was a black youth hacked to death by a large Asian gang, or that, according to the news reports, Asian as well as black street gangs took a prominent part in the violence, at least partly because of a drug turf war.

31

Daniel 10.31.05 at 10:04 am

Whichever idiot it was who said I was confusing race and religion should answer the following questions:

How many white children are going to go to Muslim schools?
How many black children are going to go to Jewish schools?
How many brown children are going to go to Christian schools?

Not many and not many, and quite a few. However, since the riots in Birmingham were, by and large, not that well attended by white people and/or Jewish people, perhaps a more useful question would be:

How many black children go to Muslim schools?
(answer: quite a lot, Somalis and Nigerians)
How many Asian children go to Muslim schools?
(answer: quite a lot, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis)
Would a Muslim school in Handsworth be either all black or all Asian?
(answer: probably no. It wouldn’t have many white children at it, but that is not what we are talking about).

The point here is that it is quite likely that faith schools are a bad idea, but they did not cause the riots in Handsworth and it is a bad idea to try and hijack every single news event to your own pet issue of the moment. The reason why the black and Asian communities disliked each other was pretty much agreed upon by both sides; the blacks thought the Asians were parasitical capitalists and the Asians thought the blacks were thieves. This wasn’t really about Islam, Nick, some things aren’t you know.

32

e-tat 10.31.05 at 10:05 am

Nick – as long as you’re here, it would be more interesting to hear your substantive response to some of the remarks above, and to look more closely at some of what you wrote in the Observer piece. But what do we get? A bit of slagging off. Come on, let’s have something better than that!

33

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 10:13 am

Dsquared, Cohen can no doubt defend himself, but… He only brings up ‘faith schools’ in the penultimate paragraph of his piece, and does so whilst mentioning other Government policies which he sees as contributing to racial segregation (eg the ‘Black Community Centre’/’Asian Community Centre’ disgrace). His article isn’t solely or even largely ‘about’ faith schools.

Re your other point, that faith schools didn’t caused the violence, it seems fair to say that if you already have a polarised community, it’s not too sensible to deepen that polarisation by sending kids of largely different ethnicities off to different ‘faith’ schools.

34

e-tat 10.31.05 at 10:18 am

‘if you already have a polarised community,…’

This point has not been established. Too many commentators have failed to examine the situation closely enough, and are extrapolating from the few to the many, exaggerating for the sake of argument.

35

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 10:23 am

‘‘if you already have a polarised community,…’

‘This point has not been established.’

Oh aye? We’ve had one race riot, two murders and a parade of ‘community leaders’ blaming each other’s ‘communities’ for all the trouble. What will it take to ‘establish’ in your mind that there might just be a leetle ethnic polarisation in Handsworth? Please state the approximate number of riots- body count optional.

36

e-tat 10.31.05 at 10:47 am

‘A little bit’ is not enough. With a little bit of economic polarisation, for instance, I could claim that economic migrants were overrunning our cities. A little bit of political polarisation would soon have the splinter party of your choice in Downing Street.

A little bit of grandstanding on the part of media wannabes does not accurately reflect ‘community’ feeling in the area. You’re welcome to call it a race riot, but it looks more like teenagers on the rampage, who are hardly indicative of deeper and long-standing community relations. There have been two murders, which can be added to the much longer list of murders in the area that are not taken as symptomatic of polarisation. But where is the “parade of ‘community leaders’ blaming each other’s ‘communities’ for all the trouble”? I haven’t seen any press report make that precise claim, and I think you may be a bit mixed up about who is a leader and who is laying blame. Let’s see some clearer evidence of your claim.

37

Daniel 10.31.05 at 11:10 am

I don’t see how anyone who doesn’t take Margaret Thatcher’s view on the existence of communities can really object to the fact that Actually Existing communities will sometimes be racial or national. There is an Asian Community Centre and a Chinese Community Centre near me, but they’re not the main community centres and I doubt they are in Handsworth either.

38

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 12:17 pm

Margaret Thatcher said nothing about ‘communities’. She said that ‘there is no such thing as society’, which view is perfectly consistent with believing we all primarily belong to ethnic groups.

Maybe I’m being unfair on ‘Community Centres’ which tend to be scruffy old Scout huts with the odd snooker table inside. But there is much bigger money in play: a number of Government departments, and the EU, hand out money to ‘BME (Black and Minority Ethnic)’ representatives, who are frequently in competition with each other for these grants. I also know that there is a growing trend (eg in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) to seek to award grants to people who work with ‘faith groups’- a phrase with some pretty unpleasant echoes. Ted Cantle went into this in some detail in his report on the riots in the Northwest, but what he said does not seem to have become policy.

It ought to be pretty obvious that if you dole out money to all the inhabitants of a given area, you are encouraging them to co-operate together in a given cause, whilst not eroding the rights of, say, Bengalis to choose to associate mainly with Bengalis. If, on the other hand, you award grants to faith or ethnic group leaders, you are setting such groups in competition with each other, as well as creating a permanent class of ‘ethnic minority leaders’, sidelining elected councillors and removing incentives for different ethnic groups to co-operate with each other.

39

abb1 10.31.05 at 1:13 pm

It ought to be pretty obvious that if you dole out money to all the inhabitants of a given area, you are encouraging them to co-operate together in a given cause […] If, on the other hand, you award grants to faith or ethnic group leaders, you are setting such groups in competition with each other…

Not that it matters much, but one could easily argue (and consider it ‘pretty obvious’) that the opposite is true.

40

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 1:20 pm

Abb1 has actually made a fair point, and alas the fault lies in my lack of clarity. I should have stated that the UK government is now in the habit of asking community leaders to compete against each other for grants- eg a pot of money can be intended for area x, but if Ethnic Minority Group A has a more convincing bid for using it than Ethnic Minority Group B, A will get more than B, which is an obvious source of conflict. Cantle talked about this a lot re Oldham, and press reports on Brum have mentioned the same thing.

Obviously it’s vanishingly unlikely that the hooligans tearing up the streets are particulary worried by that. But it’s relevant because if we a) set up ‘ethnic minority leaders’ as interlocutors for the police and government and then b) set various ‘ethnic minority leaders’ to compete against each other for cash, they’re unlikely to be co-operating to lessen ethnic tension.

41

Daniel 10.31.05 at 2:05 pm

Well maybe. But the actual facts of this riot don’t actually seem to fit the theory. Both sides actually defined the conflict as one in which “blacks” (including Carribeans who are usually secular or Christians and Africans who are usually secular, Christians or Muslims) and “Asians” (including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs) fought against each other because of a conflict that was defined specifically in economic terms.

In other words, the problem here is actually the inequality and the poverty, an issue which I believe is still a minor concern of the Left. These were two groups that can be marked out by “race” (as long as you’re prepared to call all black Britons a “race” and all South Asian Britons another separate “race”), but they didn’t actually live separate lives at all; quite the reverse, they met each other whenever they went shopping for hair products. Someone has managed to dig up an alleged grievance about government “community” money, but the actual email that was circulating was entirely about the position of Asians in the private sector.

I am not at all convinced that this is an appropriate occasion for us to have the “faith schools are bad” sermon. It might very well be that faith schools are bad and will make this problem worse, but not having faith schools isn’t going to make it better. The fundamental problem here appears to be the extent to which it is worse to not own a shop than to own one, which is something that has (as measured by the inequality statistics) something that hasn’t got better and has arguably got worse over the last ten years.

What I (and presumably Bruschetta Boy) object to is the use of a news item to hack out the same old article. It’s “Why The Riots Mean We Must Support My Politics”.

42

Dan Simon 10.31.05 at 2:31 pm

From Daniel:

In other words, the problem here is actually the inequality and the poverty, an issue which I believe is still a minor concern of the Left….

The fundamental problem here appears to be the extent to which it is worse to not own a shop than to own one, which is something that has (as measured by the inequality statistics) something that hasn’t got better and has arguably got worse over the last ten years….

What I (and presumably Bruschetta Boy) object to is the use of a news item to hack out the same old article. It’s “Why The Riots Mean We Must Support My Politics”.

I think I’ll just let this stand without comment….

43

Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 2:48 pm

Dsquared: ‘because of a conflict that was defined specifically in economic terms.’
Um, no; because of a conflict that was defined in partly economic terms (competition over the local legal retailing and illegal drugs trades); partly in terms of ‘respect’ (cf the many vox pops with blacks saying that they were treated with contempt by Asian shopkeepers and Asians saying that their premises were threatened by blacks); partly in weird sexual terms (more than one allegation of Asians gang-raping or molesting black women) and partly, yes, in religious terms: unless you’re going to say that the holding of a protest meeting inside a Church, followed by attacks on a nearby mosque, were empty of religious significance.

Dsquared: ‘ Someone has managed to dig up an alleged grievance about government “community” money, but the actual email that was circulating was entirely about the position of Asians in the private sector.’
Well, in the presence of such expertise one speaks with humility. None the less, Gus John, who does know rather a lot about inner city education and racism, wrote in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/race/story/0,11374,1600704,00.html):
‘The answer lies in the strained relationship between the African and Asian communities in Handsworth-Lozells over the past three decades and the way Birmingham city council and government funding regimes have fuelled this hostility. …
‘the perception is that access to funding is anything but equitable. In the past two years there have been inter-ethnic conflicts over the allocation of £49m from the single regeneration budget (SRB) and the balance of representation of African and Asian people on the SRB board. African-Caribbean groups complained of losing out because they were required to find £3,000 to match each £1,000 they were given, something the Asian community found easier to do because of the way their communities and businesses were run. And Asians complained that there were too many Africans on the board.

‘What is more, the perception is that access to funding is anything but equitable. In the past two years there have been inter-ethnic conflicts over the allocation of £49m from the single regeneration budget (SRB) and the balance of representation of African and Asian people on the SRB board. African-Caribbean groups complained of losing out because they were required to find £3,000 to match each £1,000 they were given, something the Asian community found easier to do because of the way their communities and businesses were run. And Asians complained that there were too many Africans on the board.’

Gus John knows a lot about it and he is saying that competition for funding is part of the problem. And, unlike you, he is citing dates and figures, rather than referring to one single email. Furthermore, he goes on to argue that poverty and inequality are indeed part of the problem: he just isn’t simple-minded enough to suggest that they are the only causes of the problem.

Dsquared: ‘I am not at all convinced that this is an appropriate occasion for us to have the “faith schools are bad” sermon.’
Really? Personally I’m sick to death of the use of the word ‘inappropriate’ to mean ‘might offend any self-appointed community leader with ready media access’. You yourself admit that there’s a case to be made that faith schools didn’t create, but would worsen, pre-existing ethnic tensions: this is precisely what I said and precisely why it is an ‘appropriate’ time for Cohen to talk about faith schools.

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Daniel 10.31.05 at 3:10 pm

I don’t actually recall him “talking about” faith schools; just tacking them onto the end of his usual self-flagellating rant about how the whole world’s going to hell and it’s all the fault of people who pay £1.45 every week to read the Observer.

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Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 3:26 pm

Shorter Dsquared: ‘I have definitely run out of arguments, but if I accuse somebody else of ranting I might get a last ironic cheer.’

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Daniel 10.31.05 at 3:31 pm

(and I reiterate, Handsworth isn’t a ghetto in the sense of a monoethnic community).

By the way, Nick Cohen makes a very specific claim about Birmingham in that column which I think is quite likely to be untrue.

Yet in Birmingham, you see projects for the black unemployed, not all the unemployed; for disadvantaged Asians or Indians or Muslims, not all the disadvantaged.

I cannot find any such projects and I’ve looked throughout the Birmingham city council website. Particularly, looking through the SRB6 “current projects” sections on Community, Health and Social Exclusion, Business, Economy and Infrastructure and Education, Employment and Training sections, I find precisely one such scheme; money has been granted for an Afro-Caribbean Resource Centre (there is already an Asian Resource Centre).

The claim that Birmingham has no general programmes aimed at the unemployed or at the disadvantaged is so manifestly false if taken literally (there is no SureStart in Birmingham? No Job Clubs?) that I’m not sure what metaphorical sense NIck means.

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Chris Bertram 10.31.05 at 3:41 pm

I think you have to interpret Nick charitably there Daniel, so

_you see projects for the black unemployed, not all the unemployed_

= there are some projects which are aimed at the black rather than the generality of unemployed.

rather than

= there are no projects for the unemployed that are aimed at the generality (they are all exclusivist).

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Daniel 10.31.05 at 3:44 pm

Yes, but I’m not actually seeing any “projects for the black unemployed” at all. A google search is worse than useless (it picks up that article, plus a load of stuff about Birmingham Alabama) but there is nothing I can find on the Birmingham council website, or the DWP website.

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Chris Bertram 10.31.05 at 3:54 pm

Googling for “Birmingham Employment Zone” gets some results. Seems to be some sort of public-private partnership involving Pertemps. The first website I found boasts that 56 per cent of the over 9000 people helped were from ethnic minorities – from which it follows that 44 per cent weren’t!

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Daniel 10.31.05 at 3:58 pm

I’ve also just found out that the Asian Resource Centre recently celebrated its Silver Jubilee, so it was there at the time of the first Handsworth riots.

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Dan Hardie 10.31.05 at 4:31 pm

So let’s agree that i) there doesn’t seem to be too much evidence of ethnically exclusive projects for the unemployed; ii) there is plenty of evidence for ethnically exclusive ‘regeneration’ projects, and of competition for the same; iii) Chris Bertram has rather generously defended a particular point made by Nick Cohen, and were Mr Cohen to happen by again, he could acknowledge that Chris Bertram isn’t a defender of religious segregation.

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Daniel 10.31.05 at 5:41 pm

fair enough if we can also agree iv) this wasn’t a riot which can be credibly blamed on any particular public policy and v) that in as much as the claim “the pseudo-left are keen on segregation” means anything, it’s probably wrong.

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harry b 10.31.05 at 9:11 pm

Nick — have you read the white paper? And do you know that, for examples, church schools no longer interview parents? Do you have a practicable solution to the inequity concerning religious schooling?

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abb1 11.01.05 at 3:08 am

Not that I’m a defender of segregation, but is there any evidence that culture-based segregation (in the sense described here: schools, community centers, etc) without discrimination causes racial, religious or ethnic tensions? Not obvious to me at all. I don’t see the Amish being hated or, say, Chinese in NY and SF.

But practicing crony capitalism based on race or ethnicity outside your community sure does…

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