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England Used to Be a Country of Men
Something has changed in the English character.


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Frank Miniter

With London succumbing to looters and muggers, it’s time to ask what happened to the once-manly English people. The August 9 issue of the Daily Mail, for example, includes a photo of a young man taking off his pants on the street as an impatient looter waits with the emasculated Briton’s sneakers and shirt already in his hands. Luckily the feeble Englishman chooses boxers over briefs, but I can’t help wondering if men such as T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill, or Lord Acton could have stomached the state of manliness in this generation of Englishmen.

Consider that this latest explosion of looting, robbing, and burning began in Tottenham, a dicey corner of north London, after police shot and killed a 29-year-old Tottenham resident named Mark Duggan. As typically happens, two competing personality profiles of Duggan are being told, depending on the politics of the teller; some say Duggan was a hardened drug dealer, others say he was a beloved family man. What we do know is that police pulled over a taxi in which Duggan was a passenger. Police say they heard a gun fired, which prompted them to shoot and kill Duggan.

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The facts of this incident may be in dispute, but the unmanly actions of Tottenham’s gangster youth are not. In retaliation for Duggan’s death (or using it as an excuse for mayhem), they’ve burned autos, looted stores, and mugged people along Tottenham’s High Road and around parts of London. This reaction says something horrific about the culture in these neighborhoods, just as much as the 1992 Los Angeles Riots displayed that all wasn’t right with the culture in the poorer neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

For context, consider the “Tottenham Outrage” of 1909. Two men in Tottenham, armed with semi-automatic handguns, attempted to rob a payroll truck, but the guards resisted. After one robber fired his gun, police came running. The robbers fled on foot. The chase lasted two hours and covered about six miles as other officers and armed civilians pursued and engaged the robbers. One of the thieves committed suicide and the other later died in surgery. One officer and one civilian also were killed. The bravery of the officers and civilians prompted the creation of the Kings Police Medal and the funeral processions for the slain officer the civilian passed through streets lined with mournful Londoners. Those weren’t the kind of people who demonize police officers or take off their pants for thieves.

Well, okay, sure, the English people did for too long accept the unmanly ditherings of Neville Chamberlain before World War II. Nevertheless, something has changed in the English character. These aren’t the proud men who once made the whole world look them in the eyes. I submit that one of the chief causes of their now emasculated spirit is the loss of so much of their individual liberty — like a child used to a parent fighting his or her battles, a people dependent on their government for everything cannot take care of themselves and are prone to childish outbursts.

By giving up their natural right to self-defense, for example, England’s law-abiding citizens have become defenseless both physically and psychologically. The loss of their right to self-preservation has created a culture of dependency on government (for protection and so much more) that has helped neuter the English male. This has also prompted some English citizens to blame the police for the crime rates that law enforcement is legally constrained from doing anything practical to fight.

Britain’s licensing of gun owners and the registration of their firearms made it easy for the government to take guns from law-abiding citizens after a mass-murderer in Hungerford killed 16 people in 1987. Within the next decade, British politicians criminalized possession of most handguns — the final deadline for turning them in was Feb. 27, 1998. (This is something liberals would like to do in the U.S., too.) Yet, few have subsequently pointed to the victims of this anti-freedom gun confiscation. The English papers haven’t interviewed victims of rape and other crimes and asked what they might have done if they had the ability to defend themselves from criminals. 



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