A BBC interview today with West Indian writer and broadcaster Darcus Howe on the London riots is currently getting passed around the Web, primarily because the contentious and awkward exchange speaks to larger questions about how the media and politicians are portraying the riots and whether the unrest is racially charged.
The interview begins inauspiciously, with the anchor, Fiona Armstrong, asking Howe, who's talking to her from Croydon, a leading question: "Are you shocked by what you've seen there last night?" To her surprise, Howe says he isn't: "Our political leaders had no idea, our police had no idea. But if you looked at young blacks and young whites with a discerning eye and a careful hearing, they have been telling us, and we would not listen that what is happening in this country to them is wrong." He later scoffs at Armstrong's suggestions that he might condone the looting or have a history of participating in violent riots, telling the anchor to "have some respect for an old West Indian Negro."