Sunday, June 07, 2020

BLM in Britain

Douglas Murray was dismissing the BLM protests in this week’s Spectator as the sort of American import that Britain can do without. 

In essence a sort of mirror image of the deluded nonsense many lefties spout about cultural appropriation: uber-guff only someone with no real interest in how cultures interact could actually peddle. 

If BLM is the cultural equivalent of chlorinated chicken, then so were the Beatles. 

Yet, there’s no denying that the US does tend to broadcast its neuroses around the globe as finished cultural products for the rest of us to consume. We feel it here quite strongly in Guatemala, though differently to the UK. Alternative parts of the culture appear open to this incursion. 

It has sometimes seemed to me that the trashiest aspects of American life are adopted here as aspirational. One explanation that occurs to me is that the middle classes here see these as emblematic of a security of status they fall some way short of possessing. 

Anyway, back to the London protests. 

Having endured all the finger wagging over Dominic Cummings, the UK right is now looking truly flabbergasted about the mass demonstrations in London this weekend, and sure, on paper these ‘apeñuscamientos’ don’t look especially sensible in the light of potential contagion. 

Our bobbies don’t even carry guns or brutalise people, groans Douglas. (Murray is one of those acute thinkers you’d never want to have a debate with that has been framed solely in his terms.) Of course, he’s missing the point, and one would suspect deliberately so. 

In the context of June 2020 one can characterise mass protest in the UK as both more dumb and less dumb than what is happening in the US. 

And given that I suspect some sort of cathartic rush to the streets was always going to be an inevitable part of this crisis, one needs to ponder what could have occurred if this particular flashpoint in Minneapolis has been avoided. (If the matter to hand had been perceived as mass destitution, more property would have been smashed up for sure.)

In contemporary Britain the issue of racial injustice is one that now appeals to a broad majority of better instincts. You might dismiss a lot of this as ‘virtue signalling’ but that is ultimately how we can strive to make the world a better place. Human beings are not innately decent, and never can be. We get to be civilised by pulling up our bootstraps. 

Huge crowds in London are perhaps dumber than those in America, because the issues are superficially less acute, yet, as I say, the problem of human indecency is universal and can only be assuaged by exploiting MOMENTS like this. 

They are also less dumb than the US equivalents, which have affected all fifty states, because they are concentrated in a city where the number of new SARS-Cov-2 infections has tailed off quite dramatically. The same is really only true of the far northeast of the US, the rest either stuck on the Altiplano or ascending energetically. 

The evidence points quite clearly to well-ventilated outdoor activities being less dangerous than crowded interiors of one sort or another. Even in a room with an open window droplets are quickly forced down to ground level. There may be a second wave, but this is probably not how it will fuel itself. 

When I joined the crowds of protestors at the Zona Cero in Santiago last winter, I was very nearly the only individual not wearing a sophisticated plastic mask and goggles for protection against tear gas. Even in the UK some of the demonstrators are sporting this sort of PPE, in spite of the fact that even Priti Patel is unlikely to order the use of chemical weapons.  And this in a country that has been almost stupidly ambivalent about mask-wearing during the pandemic.

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