Down and Out


By Chris Ballard

Last summer, Molotov cocktails shattered storefronts and, in turn, the future of London youth seeking employment. What’s to become of those bearing the brunt of every arsonist and looter from the London riots? That’s the million-pound question. While employers in Europe are skeptical to hire any 18- to 20-something, those who didn’t set homes ablaze last summer are shouldered with the guilty's burden. A February New York Times article, “For London Youth, Down and Out Is Way of Life,” pinned Britain’s growing unemployment rate at over 22 percent, the highest since 1992.

We’re all feeling underappreciated, undervalued, and voiceless. But the only way to solve that is by speaking up peacefully and reaching your hand out to politicians for diplomatic solutions. You can’t do that with a pair of handcuffs on. Syracuse University political science professor Margarita Estevez-Abe says that’s something the UK government does not have much control over. “The UK has always had more problems with disorderly thugs,” she says. “I think the live coverage of violence by the media encouraged young thugs to escalate looting and vandalism.” Look, London. We know you’re pissed off.

But your unemployment rate is less than half of Spain’s, which is climbing toward 50 percent. Their youth rallies resemble politically-motivated sleepovers in major city plazas, making them a peaceful yet effective model for London. And explosives aren’t involved—a definite plus. Perpetual lawlessness doesn’t earn you a spot at the table to talk about real issues.

Overarching public perception has also swayed because of the riots. In a study commissioned by The Guardian in the UK, rioters listed “poverty” as the most important motivating factor for the riots. The general public, however, identified criminality and poor parenting as having caused the violence. The public also reported gangs as a significant factor, while rioters who responded disagreed. So, those youths without jobs are immediately pegged as criminals in society—hindering those who stayed at home applying for jobs and not forcing their fists through glass. The sooner London youth realize criminality completely debases not only oneself but their entire population, the sooner they’ll take a step toward combating the underlying political and social issues. But don’t give politicians more fuel for the fire. While you’re at it,stay away from fire altogether.

The EditorsComment