That's Not What Joe Strummer Had in Mind
January 19, 2015 9:09 PM   Subscribe

​​"From the pictures and videos that accompany the NBC News and Buzzfeed stories, the crowd appears to have been predominantly white... which explains why they're described in the media as 'celebrating' rather than 'rioting'. But every time this happens – that is to say, every time sports fans, predominantly of the white variety, go on rampages after wining (or losing) various championships – many of us with a few gray hairs on our heads are reminded of the Clash's seminal punk anthem, 'White Riot,' which was released as a 7-inch single (that would be on vinyl, kids) in March 1977, and was later included on both the UK and the US versions of the band's debut album, The Clash."​ Whites Riot: That’s Not What Joe Strummer Had in Mind, by David Von Ebers (TwiB! / Valid magazine).
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (28 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
via retweet by Imani ABL (@AngryBlackLady)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:10 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just loved the opening scene to the Joe Strummer bio-pic, The Future is Unwritten, which starts with Strummer's voice isolated in the sound booth recording the lyrics to White Riot. Even without the rest of the band, it is just pure ferocity.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:36 PM on January 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


double plus awesome post. this is great. sorry for low content comment.
posted by daq at 9:37 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seahawks fans went fucking crazy Sunday after that insane game. People in Seattle were honking their horns! Talk about a riot.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:11 PM on January 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's a song I've always loved. Calling them "celebrations" when white sports fans do it, but "riots" when it's a few police agitators helping get a political protest riled up, I don't so much love.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:32 PM on January 19, 2015




Mei's lost sandal: “Seahawks fans went fucking crazy Sunday after that insane game. People in Seattle were honking their horns! Talk about a riot.”

Ha ha! Because people in Seattle never riot! Except when they throw bottles at people and set fires and destroy historic buildings to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars after a football game!
posted by koeselitz at 11:11 PM on January 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


worth noting. I happened to be listening to a random track from Sandinista when I noticed this post: One More Time in the Ghetto. And just a few minutes before that, it was Yalla Yalla from the first Mescaleros album. And just this morning, somebody randomly sent me an mp3 of this nifty cover of Broadway by a guy named Stew.

also, Cracker's take on White Riot has always struck me as rather astute -- white trash riot.

When are they going to name a mountain after Joe Strummer?
posted by philip-random at 11:14 PM on January 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sadly, the questions in "White Riot" that were intended to be rhetorically affirmative would still be answered in the negative. We are taking orders rather than taking over and we are going backwards.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:07 AM on January 20, 2015


but we killed pub rock, at least
posted by thelonius at 3:17 AM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I liked the honking horns joke because Seattle's reputation for mildness has been there at least in the 90's when I lived there. Whether it is earned or not, I don't know, but the reputation is definitely there.
posted by josher71 at 4:44 AM on January 20, 2015


Well, I live in Columbus about a mile and a half north of OSU. And from the time that the game ended until about 4 AM, I heard nearly constant sirens.

I think the police responded to a degree appropriate for being met with some ridiculous number (literally thousands) of drunk and energetic and destructive students. Police used tear gas on students who refused to get out of the main street and who stormed the football stadium and pulled down goal posts, shot off celebratory gunfir eand lit 90+ fires in the vicinity. I don't think we want to call for harsher policing of white assholes when they riot, and while you could argue that this was over the top policing, I don't think that's a strong argument in this case.

The problem is that the media at large calls this a revel and Ferguson et. al. protests a riot. I can promise you there was property damage and destruction in Columbus, and there were way now people involved than in the initial set of protests where a few buildings were burned in St. Louis. This was way riotier.

And yet here I am, a white person associated with OSU who was pleased when the football team won. Why haven't I been asked to account for the actions of my peers? Why doesn't this represent the depravity of college football? Why is nobody wearing an OSU jersey around the country asked about the rioting and property destruction they are endorsing? Why are the Columbus police, who incidentally have one of the highest officer-involved shooting rates in the country, being asked to account for their actions in shooting tear gas at a group of 8,000 drunk young white people, but not explain why we have the second highest rate of shooting deaths by police, mostly of black men?

Oh yeah. Because our society is fucking racist.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:35 AM on January 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


It was an easy 'Almost Live!' type joke.

Seattle has a history that also includes murdering Chinese immigrants during labor riots.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 5:36 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Came to post Mekons but as is often the case, Mefi had me beat.
posted by item at 5:38 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Joe explains here.
posted by humboldt32 at 6:51 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this, I'm glad to know more of the history of the song. I thought a bit about the song after listening to it with my 3 year old son (there's nothing like listening to music with a little kid who might repeat random lyrics out of context to make you listen good and hard to what is being said), which made me think about how timely this nearly 40 year old song is now, in the context of such racist media coverage of riots.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:10 AM on January 20, 2015


First, the only people who set shit on fire after Seahawks games are assholes from Renton and Bellevue in Pioneer Square who think their $1500 ticket to the game includes the right to fuck shit up. The drunks, and druggies who live there have every reason to participate once provoked. Out in Ballard with the real Seattlites last Sunday it was all kisses from random strangers and bartenders pouring free drinks. It was quite a riot.

Second, yesterday my kids missed their swimming lesson when my car was surrounded by a random MLK anti police riot that moved onto Aurora. Protestors and Police alike were throwing shit at each other. Also, my kids participated in another MLK protest on Friday. That one was mostly peaceful, but I'll tell you my (non-white) 5 year old son can be a destructive motherfucker.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:12 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


FWIW, the student riots in a sleepy little Central Coast California town were called riots in the 1990s and again in 2004 (in reference to nearby college riots in 2014). Why isn't this sort of language more common when reporting senseless violence? I mean, besides racism.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:13 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


also, Cracker's take on White Riot has always struck me as rather astute -- white trash riot.

Gives it some context for Americans in ways that make people even more uncomfortable.
posted by immlass at 4:10 PM on January 20, 2015


I have been in the middle of three riots in LA. I was in the middle of the Watts Riots (I was just a little kid and we were on family vacation, in a motel). I was in the middle of the Rodney King riots. But the only riot I have ever been on the ground, caught amidst rioters, running from the LAPD, was the 1985 LA Street Scene riot. That was probably the whitest riot in LA history. Now in LA, there's a transplanted Kiwi white boy EDM DJ who calls himself LA Riots.

No you do not want a White Riot. White guys can't riot.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:50 PM on January 20, 2015


item: “Came to post Mekons but as is often the case, Mefi had me beat.”

when I was posting that link, where were you?
posted by koeselitz at 11:06 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


No you do not want a White Riot. White guys can't riot.

Well...
posted by josher71 at 7:15 AM on January 21, 2015


What a crappy riot. You need a lot more than a dozen Black Block protesters with hammers to crack windows at Starbucks.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:17 AM on January 21, 2015


You're just fucking with me, aren't you?
posted by josher71 at 11:22 AM on January 21, 2015


No, I have personal experience with the Black Block via Occupy and they will fuck over the other protesters without a second thought. They ruin riots. There is a huge difference between Direct Action and Anarchy.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:40 AM on January 21, 2015


I guess I don't get it. This was undoubtedly a big riot with a lot of white people. I don't know where you are putting your goalposts for riot at, I think.
posted by josher71 at 12:11 PM on January 21, 2015


One of these things is not like the other:

Watts riots: Spontaneous outrage over police brutality
Rodney King riots: Spontaneous outrage over police brutality
Street Scene riot: Spontaneous outrage over police shutdown of a concert
WTO protest: Preplanned protest of international trade policies

Fuck the black block. A bunch of anarchist agents provocateur trying to hijack a peaceful protest is not a riot.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:17 PM on January 21, 2015


I think you have strange criteria for what a riot can and cannot be, but I suppose we will just have to disagree.
posted by josher71 at 7:26 AM on January 22, 2015


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