Of course, today Canada's Shame is the herd of stampeding buffalo in Vancouver who decided to smash up the joint after the Canucks failed to win the Stanley Cup. I was going to post on this earlier, but I don't move as fast as I used to. It's pretty obvious that losing the Cup wasn't the "real" cause of the riot, just the handiest pretext. That bunch was going to have its riot no matter what, win or lose. This has happened before, and in Vancouver, too. But we also know from the G20 riots in Toronto last year that our society has degenerated to the point where any large gathering of people is viewed by some as a perfect setting for some smashing, looting, arson and general mayhem.
The "official" excuses were pretty much what I expected: the mayor of Vancouver and the police chief (how reassuring!) immediately blamed the fracas on "anarchists". This is the up-to-date version of "they weren't from around here" - every time there's a particularly shameful display of public brutishness, the people whose community has broken down immediately reach for the palliative excuse that it isn't really that there's something wrong with US. It's THEM - those darned outsiders, those alien Others who came into our innocent, blameless community and spoiled everything. The "anarchists" scapegoat didn't hold up too well because it was obvious that way more people were involved than could be attributed to any tiny fringe group of crackpots, which is what true anarchists are.
The police were almost comical in their wooly-minded perplexity over the mysterious manifestation of these fiendish anarchists:
The mayor said there was no advance warning of the strategy, which caught police and city officials off guard, and may force them to take a different approach to security plans for large public gatherings in the future.
“There had been absolutely no signs of this coming,” Robertson said Thursday afternoon. “Both during the G-20 [leaders’ summit in Toronto] and the 2010 Olympics these thugs were well known to be organizing and preparing to take action and criminal activities on the streets. There were no indications of that leading into last night,” he said.
Maybe the reason there wasn't the same trail of breadcrumbs they'd seen during the previous 2 cases is because in this case the same people weren't pulling the strings. Is it possible? Could the police actually be facing a situation that doesn't neatly fall into one of their two or three neatly-labelled pigeonholes? Maybe something quite new? Like a general breakdown of social order?
And the photos and videos that began pouring over the transom the day after this incident bore that out: this wasn't a pre-planned anarchist action that exploded in the middle of a blameless crowd of bewildered innocents, dragging them into somebody else's fight. This was a crowd of people we thought we knew - well-meaning, well-behaved Canadians - deciding that they'd like a little taste for themselves of the thrill of lawbreaking they've been watching other people on TV indulging in. When push came to shove, a lot of people who'd given a good impression of being civilized and respectful of the laws that make civilized societies work showed that they couldn't be relied upon.