The crackdown comes . . .When non-democratic states face opposition and respond with mass arrests, police brutality, and across-the-board shelving of whatever civil or human rights may be recognized in that country, it's a crackdown on opposition. When democratic states face opposition, we cheer on the attempt to address waves of violence, thuggery, and even, in the words of a British judge sentencing two men to four years in prison for inciting a riot that never occurred, "evil acts".
I haven't really read a whole lot of commentary by US pundits on current events in Britain; to be honest, I haven't really read a whole lot of commentary by US pundits on pretty much anything because, apart from Paul Krugman, most of them are abysmal. All the same, the silence in the face of what is, quite clearly, state sponsored repression of political dissent is telling. After a year that began with the Tunisian revolution, the Egyptian revolution that the world watched on Al Jazeera, anti-government movements in Bahrain, Yemen, and Morocco, the civil war in Libya, the pre-emption of demonstrations by the Saudi police state, and even anti-government protests growing in Israel, one would think an awareness of the general situation in Britain would encourage at least some besides those on the far left in the United States to be a little more vocal in support of those called "rioters" by police and "lazy" by their Prime Minister.
Part of the problem may well be the wide-spread looting and the violent expressions of social frustration the British have been using. Lord knows American liberals don't want to support violence. Even a casual acquaintance with the history of British police action toward working class and racial/ethnic minority groups, however, might temper that kind of categorical refusal to understand that violence might well be, at the very least, an understandable if regrettable final, desperate choice. Kind of like in Syria.
Americans are narcissistic enough to wonder if recent events in Britain are relevant to our own situation. Some have submitted that such violence may well be just over the horizon; others insist it can't happen here. I think it is possible, because many of the same dynamics are in play - bad economy made worse by public austerity; long histories of police violence against the poor and minorities; the probability of a spark like in Britain, viz., the police shooting someone. I do not relish or welcome such events, but we should be clear-eyed and honest, admitting that being sick and tired of being sick and tired sometimes leads people to express their lack of anything left to lose in ways good liberals don't like and just can't condone.
Whatever the end game may be in Britain, the ugliness there isn't the rioters. It's the government-led crackdown on dissent disguising itself as law-and-order, with politicians and judges using the word "evil" to describe what most people think is a human right - to protest inhuman living conditions and dissent against state-sanctioned violence against the poor and minorities.