The London riots, which crossed racial and ethnic divides and seem to have combusted without leadership, have not been explained except to say that some youth were feeling dis-empowered.
In the 1970s, when I was teaching at NYU, a scholarship student from South America, reading a complaint letter by professors to the college administration, asked, “Why don’t you protest?”
I said that the letter was the protest and would be taken up at a faculty meeting. He shook his head, saying with pride, “In my country we would protest in the streets.” He could not comprehend that street protests were a resort of the powerless, and that faculty grievances would be settled by compromise in meetings between opposing parties.
When the Gore/Bush election was still hanging, I was on an email list of my WW2 bomber crew, avid Bush supporters mostly from the south. I regret I didn’t keep one email warning that if Gore prevailed, they were planning to join an armed insurrection. Whether or not it would have happened, it shows that democracy is not as deeply rooted as we like to think.
Were the Tea Party to eke out a Presidency, take control of congress, ignore opposing views, and start to implement its extremist no-compromise agenda, would riots be far behind?