I’m still technically on a “respite” from social media and the Posting grind, but can’t resist momentarily indulging this morning. Being in England at the moment, I have observed an unusual amount of attention paid to the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd. There was a whole segment devoted to the subject in last night’s edition of Question Time, the flagship BBC panel discussion programme. I also saw a segment on Newsnight, the flagship BBC nightly news show, and similar segments on Channel 4 and ITV. How this death in Minneapolis, Minnesota became of such acute concern to the citizens of the United Kingdom is an interesting question. It’s hard to imagine a comparable violent death in, I don’t know, Bristol even being noticed in the US, much less being commemorated a year afterward.
The two apparent Conservatives on the Question Time panel, Grant Shapps MP and Tom Newton Dunn of the Times, did not even bother questioning the premise of why they were being asked to reflect on “what we have learned” since the death of George Floyd. Why would Britons have to “learn” anything about this police-caused death in America? There are barely any relevant parallels between US and UK police culture and/or laws governing use of force. The cultural dynamics between the two countries vis-a-vis race are also vastly different. “BME” minorities are well-integrated in the UK relative to the US and, to take another example, France. (The Tory nominee for Mayor of London in the election earlier this month was a black man.) And yet rather than object to what’s really a kind of cultural imperialism being foisted upon them by foreign activists, even these Conservatives seem rather inclined to act like wet noodles.
As an American, I’m not anti-American, and I appreciate many aspects of America. But I’d like to think if I were a Briton, I’d reject on principle to the pathologies of America being imported into my country willy-nilly, which probably creates more social problems than it ameliorates. When queried on “what they’ve learned” since George Floyd’s death, these UK politicians and pundits repeat platitudes like “we musn’t be complacent” or we “must remain vigilant.” Vigilant about what, exactly? It seems the “vigilance” being called for is to vigilantly continue discussing how everyone must remain vigilant.
Pictured above is a “BLM” mural I randomly happened across in Brighton, England. According to recent data, Blacks account for 1.5% of the local population. I wouldn’t doubt that these residents have issues worthy of public attention, but I would strongly doubt they’re analogous to issues that animate “BLM” in the US, such as police killings. As far as I can tell, no one has been killed by police (other than car crashes) in the modern history of Brighton.
I’ve also seen random “ACAB” graffiti, which is dubious because “cops” is generally an American way of referring to police officers. And “coppers” in the UK tend to be fairly reserved, standoffish, and even a bit apologetic. It’s just nothing like US police culture. So the whole thing’s quite odd.
Anyway, I return in full force next week.