London Bridge Is Burning Down

Attack of the Feral Children

Why is Britain burning? One British writer has the answer -- one we need to hear on this side of the pond.

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Chuck  Colson

London is one of my favorite cities. I am shocked and grieved at the sight of rioting, looting, and burning. Why is it happening?

Well, I’m no expert on the sociology of Great Britain, but the words of British historian and journalist Max Hastings ring true.

Writing in the Daily Mail, he says, “The people who wrecked swathes of property, burned vehicles and terrorised communities have no moral compass to make them susceptible to guilt or shame...They know no family role models, for most live in homes in which the father is unemployed, or from which he has decamped. They are illiterate and innumerate, beyond maybe some dexterity with computer games and BlackBerries.”

As a result, he says they’re looking for fun, for something to make their lives interesting. As one female looter told the media, they wanted to show the rich and the police “we can do what we like.” And what they like is stealing and destroying.

Where are these “feral children” coming from? Hastings’s answers sound ominously familiar.

First, he says, these young people are utterly adrift. “Nobody,” he writes, “has ever dared suggest to them that they need feel any allegiance to anything, least of all Britain or their community.” And I would add their God or their fellow human beings. They are functional nihilists; people who believe in nothing except satisfying their urges.

Second, Hastings says, “The [liberal] social engineering industry unites to claim that the conventional template of family life is no longer valid.” Single motherhood is encouraged, fathers are missing.

Finally, British schools are basket cases: teachers have lost control and are frequent victims of threats and curses.

Hastings concludes, these young hellions “are the product of a culture which gives them so much unconditionally that they are let off learning how to become human beings.”

Folks, Hastings’s brilliant if bleak analysis is right on, and we are right behind the Brits. For more than 35 years in the prisons, I’ve seen the results of family breakdown, of young men turning to the gangs because they had no male role model. In our overflowing prisons, I’ve seen first-hand what Harvard professors James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein concluded: Crime, they said, is caused by a lack of moral training in the morally formative years.

This is the reason I’ve devoted so much time and effort to studying and promoting ethics -- to rebuilding the ethical and moral foundations of our society. It’s why we wrote the Manhattan Declaration -- to protect marriage and the family. It’s why Robby George, Brit Hume, and I created “Doing the Right Thing”-- our six-part DVD series on ethics. If you haven’t seen it, now’s the time -- with your family, your small group, your church. We have all the information you need at DoingtheRightThing.com.

Surveying the wreckage in London, Hastings hits the nail on the head: Liberal opinion holds that these feral children are victims, but not in the way we normally think of victimhood. They are, he writes, “victims of a perverted social ethos which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline -- tough love -- which alone might enable some of its members to escape the swamp of dependency in which they live.”

Well, the Brits are waking up to the smoke-and rubble-filled reality. The urgent question for us is this: Will we?

Further Reading and Information

Years of liberal dogma have spawned a generation of amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters
Max Hastings | Daily Mail | August 10, 2011

Civilization, Barbarism and the Burning Streets of London
Peter Wehner| Commentary | August 10, 2011

Britain tackles the welfare state
George F. Will | Washington Post | August 10, 2011

How the liberals ruined Britain
Melaine Phillips | melainephillips.com | August 11, 2011

Focus on the Family

Ruth Institute

Marriage Savers

Family Research Council

National Organization for Marriage




Chester's Observation
"Where circumstances develop so that a variety of outlets for activity involving associations are not readily available -- as is often the case, for example, with unemployed persons -- the situation is one in which the individual is placed in a sort of social vacuum, producing a feeling and also objective behavior of being 'lost.' I have seen this a number of times. Where the situation affects a number of persons simultaneously they are likely to do any sort of mad thing."...

"For these reasons [social satisfactions, the necessity for action where a group of persons is involved, comradeship, maintaining a sense of social integration], either small enduring informal organizations or large collectivities seem always to possess a considerable number of formal organizations. These are the definite structural material of society. They are the poles around which personal associations are given sufficient consistency to retain continuity. The alternative is disintegration into hostile groups, the hostility itself being a source of integrating purposes (defense and offense) of the groups which are differentiated by hostility." -- Chester I. Barnard, Functions Of The Executive, (1938), pages 118 & 119.

Lack of discipline is only the tip of the ice burg.
London burning
I lived in Windsor Ont; in the'60's--there were the Detroit riots; there were major fires; we never were comfortable to go cross border for leisure events after that; does not the Oklahoma bombing relate to the subject; I am sure there are localized happenings that the media does not carry nationally. A couple of years ago, there were demonstrations re increase in price of corn (food) (we knew this would happen,using food for fuel, but went ahead anyway); I do not recall how extensive the violence was. I am sure there are other examples I too, need to be reminded about.
Shirley Schuurman
Tillsonburg, ON
Prime Minister David Cameron just echoed these sentiments with clarity and insight. Wonder when American politicians will grasp the courage to do the same with the American people? I'm afraid that, in the name of "tolerance" we have abandoned our moral, intellectual and cultural nerve in emphasizing responsibility and stewardship for ALL Americans for the common good.
Ignorance and Want
The question, "Where are these 'feral children' coming from?" reminded me of a a disturbing scene in "A Christmas Carol," where the two "children" beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present are revealed:

- - - - - - - - -
From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. ...

“Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!”
- - - - - - - - -

Dickens' metaphorical children are not material poverty, but spiritual poverty. Can we expect morality from a generation denied moral teaching in a society that scoffs at virtue?

What we are seeing in London may be Dickens' prophecy: Ignorance and Want unleashed on a society that has too long neglected its moral infrastructure.