After four days in Cairo watching History unfold in the form of the so-called Arab Spring, after a couple of weeks back home, and now, after a couple of days of viewing English riots in London, Bristol, Manchester and other cities, I begin to wonder whether or not there’s a connection.

If you recall my earlier blog on the Arab Spring, I made a stab at comparing the current Arab uprisings to France in 1968, “where a collection of various factions, led mostly by youth, demanded their native country to step up and be a part of History.” After rejecting this as too simplistic, I opined that the Arab Spring more correctly lay in particular and unique forms of the Arabian past; mostly within a “Bedouinization” process that relied heavily on conservative forms of Wahabbi and Salafi beliefs promoted and backed by rural elites propped into power by Western governments following the conclusion of World War I. Though it is true that many of those in the streets of Cairo are young, the fact remains that the Arab Spring seeks modernization, rejecting (in a sense) Bedouin dictates of outdated and hateful forms of Islam. The kids of Cairo seek and want to emulate the likes of  miraculous Dubai than they do ossified Saudi Arabia. Dubai – urban, new, cosmopolitan; Saudi Arabia – rural, old, conservative.

Which brings me back to the West, and the UK in particular. What are England’s youth saying? By burning their own communities, what is the message – if there is one – by which these “thugs” (as some in British media are calling them) wish to convey? And in consideration of pointing a finger at “society,” why then are not riots rampant in the United States? And finally, can there be a connection between the Arab Spring, the riots in England, and then something found in the United States Kerner Commission Reports of 1968?

Yes, that Kerner Commission Report which concluded that African Americans were, by and large, frustrated at the lack of economic opportunities in America. “Our nation is moving toward two societies,” stated the most famous passage of the 426-page report, “one black, one white – separate and unequal.” White urban flight, racial discrimination evident in red-lining real estate practices, keeping men of color out of white suburban neighborhoods, businesses relocating out of the cities to outlying industrial centers or overseas completely, schools failing due to underfunding based on plummeting property values, on and on, on and on.

What’s amazing about the Kerner Commission Report is not so much its findings, which to great degree were self-evident, but to the reaction of the document by those from the political right; that the Kerner Commission Report “exonerates rioters for their behavior” while assessing blame on some incoherent abstract called society or “the system.”

Yet, nearly the same conservative rhetoric spills from British talking heads out into the media attempting to fix blame over the riots on the rioters themselves, on “thuggery,” “hooliganism,” and yes, greedy opportunistic looters. It’s as if, “Oh, it’s Tuesday. Let’s go out and riot. OK Reg?” Banal retorts of “fatherlessness” (Cristina Odone of the London Telegraph), or trite explanations that somehow Twitter and Blackberry cell phones (BBC) are to blame for the riots, miss completely the angst and frustration of youth caught up in a “system” that affords them very little hope.

Nothing brings this point closer to home than The Telegraph’s Philip Johnston who, with a straight face, prints the following hypocrisy: the riots “are fuelled by pure greed, by a belief that something can be had for nothing. The usual brakes on such behaviour – either an appreciation that it is wrong, or by the prospect that the culprit will be caught and punished – are largely absent.”

And this is where it all comes together: those on the political right are irrevocably detached from reality, from understanding the perception of youth at the margin of society and not by their own choosing. This is the unifier between English riots and the Arab Spring, and the students of France in 1968, and those young African Americans that burned their communities to the ground prior to and especially in the wake of Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination – in short, that the system is not only unjust, it doesn’t even recognize them.

Taking Philip Johnston to task; cannot the same be said of the few Wall Street bankers that plunged us into the current recession? Were they not out creating and falsifying mortgage derivatives to create something that “can be had for nothing”? Were not the CEOs of Wall Street steered and guided by the golden cow of “pure greed”?And has anyone, the United States Congress or the British Parliament, created “brakes on such behavior”?

Something an Egyptian youth told me at Tahrir Square a couple of weeks ago still sticks in my craw: “I fear more the money of the Saudi princes than I do the military tanks and planes of Israel.”

So Arabia is aflame; marginalized youth wanting something more, wanting to be a part of History, wanting to be something other than the face of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. England is aflame, too; marginalized youth wanting something more, wanting to be a part of History, wanting to be something other than the faceless, the purposely detached, the ones their own government cares little for – unless, of course, they riot.

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