[QUOTE] Patrick Wintour and Vikram Dodd
Thursday April 12, 2007
Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture. His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem.
One accused him of misunderstanding the advice he had been given on the issue at a Downing Street summit.
Black community leaders reacted after Mr Blair said the recent violence should not be treated as part of a general crime wave, but as specific to black youth. He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it".
It needed to be addressed by a tailored counter-attack in the same way as football hooliganism was reined in by producing measures aimed at the specific problem, rather than general lawlessness.
Mr Blair's remarks are at odds with those of the Home Office minister Lady Scotland, who told the home affairs select committee last month that the disproportionate number of black youths in the criminal justice system was a function of their disproportionate poverty, and not to do with a distinctive black culture.
Giving the Callaghan lecture in Cardiff, the prime minister admitted he had been "lurching into total frankness" in the final weeks of his premiership. He called on black people to lead the fight against knife crime. He said that "the black community - the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law abiding people horrified at what is happening - need to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids".
Mr Blair said he had been moved to make his controversial remarks after speaking to a black pastor of a London church at a Downing Street knife crime summit, who said: "When are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community and not, for reasons of political correctness, pretend that this is nothing to do with it?" Mr Blair said there needed to be an "intense police focus" on the minority of young black Britons behind the gun and knife attacks. The laws on knife and gun gangs needed to be toughened and the ringleaders "taken out of circulation".
Last night, British African-Caribbean figures leading the fight against gang culture condemned Mr Blair's speech. The Rev Nims Obunge, chief executive of the Peace Alliance, one of the main organisations working against gang crime, denounced the prime minister.
Mr Obunge, who attended the Downing Street summit chaired by Mr Blair in February, said he had been cited by the prime minister: "He makes it look like I said it's the black community doing it. What I said is it's making the black community more vulnerable and they need more support and funding for the work they're doing. ... He has taken what I said out of context. We came for support and he has failed and has come back with more police powers to use against our black children."
Keith Jarrett, chair of the National Black Police Association, whose members work with vulnerable youngsters, said: "Social deprivation and delinquency go hand in hand and we need to tackle both. It is curious that the prime minister does not mention deprivation in his speech."
Lee Jasper, adviser on policing to London's mayor, said: "For years we have said this is an issue the black community has to deal with. The PM is spectacularly ill-informed if he thinks otherwise.
"Every home secretary from [David] Blunkett onwards has been pressed on tackling the growing phenomenon of gun and gang crime in deprived black communities, and government has failed to respond to what has been a clear demand for additional resources to tackle youth alienation and disaffection".
The Home Office has already announced it is looking at the possibility of banning membership of gangs, tougher enforcement of the supposed mandatory five-year sentences for possession of illegal firearms, and lowering the age from 21 to 18 for this mandatory sentence.
Answering questions later Mr Blair said: "Economic inequality is a factor and we should deal with that, but I don't think it's the thing that is producing the most violent expression of this social alienation.
"I think that is to do with the fact that particular youngsters are being brought up in a setting that has no rules, no discipline, no proper framework around them."
Some people working with children knew at the age of five whether they were going to be in "real trouble" later, he said.
Mr Blair is known to believe the tendency for many black boys to be raised in families without a father leads to a lack of appropriate role models.
He said: "We need to stop thinking of this as a society that has gone wrong - it has not - but of specific groups that for specific reasons have gone outside of the proper lines of respect and good conduct towards others and need by specific measures to be brought back into the fold."
The Commission for Racial Equality broadly backed Mr Blair, saying people "shouldn't be afraid to talk about this issue for fear of sounding prejudiced".
Mr Blair spoke out as a second teenager was due to appear in court charged with the murder of 14-year-old Paul Erhahon, stabbed to death in east London on Friday. He was the seventh Londoner under 16 to be murdered since the end of January, and his 15-year-old friend, who was also stabbed, remains in hospital.[/QUOTE]
In retrospect, outraged people shouldn't have united and screamed "blank you" to Don Imus the last few days. No, instead, we should've stuck out our hand and said, "Thank you."
We should feel indebted to a shriveled, unfunny, insensitive frog for being so ignorant that he actually did us all a favor. He woke society the hell up. He grabbed it by the throat, shook hard and ordered us to take a long, critical look at ourselves and the mess we've made and ignored for much too long. He made us examine the culture and the characters we've created for ourselves, our impressionable young people and our future.
Had Imus not called a bunch of proud and innocent young women "nappy-headed hos," would we be as ashamed of what we see as we are today?
Or, to quote Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer: "Have we really lost our moral fiber?"
And our minds as well?
I'm not sure if the last few days will serve as a watershed moment for this MTV, middle-finger, screw-you generation. Probably not, according to my hunch. A short time from now, the hysteria will turn to vapor, folks will settle back into their routines, somebody will pump up the volume on the latest poison produced by hip-hop while Al Sharpton and the other racial ambulance chasers will find other guilt-ridden white folks to shake for fame and cash. In five minutes, the entire episode of Imus and his strange idea of humor will be older than his hairstyle. Lessons learned will be lessons forgotten.
I wish I were wrong about that last part. But I doubt it, because any minute now, black people will resume calling themselves *****es and hos and the N-word and in the ultimate sign of hypocrisy, neither Rutgers nor anyone else will call a news conference about that.
Because when we really get to the root of the problem, this isn't about Imus. This is about a culture we -- meaning black folks -- created and condoned and packaged for white power brokers to sell and shock jocks like Imus to exploit. Can we talk?
Tell me: Where did an old white guy like Imus learn the word "ho"?
Was that always part of his vocabulary? Or did he borrow it from Jay-Z and Dave Chappelle and Snoop Dogg?
What really disappointed me about that exhausting Rutgers news conference, which was slyly used as a recruiting pitch by Stringer, was the absence of the truth and the lack of backbone and courage. Black women had the perfect opportunity to lash out at their most dangerous oppressors -- black men -- and yet they kept the focus on a white guy.
It was a tremendous letdown for me, personally and professionally. I wanted Stringer, and especially her players, many of whom listen to rap and hip-hop, to take Nelly to task. Or BET. Or MTV. Or the gangsta culture that is suffocating our kids. They had the ear and eye of the nation trained upon them, and yet these women didn't get to the point and the root of the matter. They danced around it, and I guess I should've known better, because black people still refuse to lash out against those black people who are doing harm to us all.
Honestly, I wasn't holding my breath for Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, a pair of phony and self-appointed leaders, because they have their agendas and financial stakes. I was hoping 10 young women, who have nothing on the line, who are members of a young culture, would train their attention to within the race, name names and say enough is enough. But they didn't, and I was crushed.
You should walk around the playground and the elementary and high schools today and listen to how young black people speak to each other, treat each other and tease each other. You'd be ashamed. Next, sample some of their CDs and look at the video games they're playing. And while you're at it, blame yourself for funding this garbage, for allowing your kids to support these companies and for not taking a stand against it or the so-called artists making it happen.
Black folks, for whatever reason, can be their own worst enemy. The last several days, the media had us believe it was Don Imus. But deep down, we know better.
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[QUOTE=AlbanyJet]And the politicians that take those corporations political donations! Don't forget them.[/QUOTE]
don't forget about hypocritcal rats who claim that some who use the term "ho" should be fired while seeking the support and backing of others who freely and regulary use the term....and make money from it...