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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sometimes the kids aren't alright

I heard the head teacher of Bethnal Green Academy talking on the radio. This is the school attended by the three girls who've run off to join Islamic State.

He was at pains to assure everyone his school promoted values of fairness and tolerance. I don't doubt it. However I wonder whether some of his pupils were listening any more than we were back in the sixties when an earlier generation of head teachers lectured us about the value of self discipline and being smartly turned-out.

The Bethnal Green head's voice was the voice teenagers hear so often nowadays that they must imitate it behind their hands. It's the voice of the prevailing wisdom, the voice they hear on the radio all the time, the voice of public statements, the voice of everyone from vicars to pop stars, the voice of adults promoting peace and togetherness so insistently that a few of the people listening inevitably start to crave the opposite.

It was always the way. As Marlon Brando's character in the "The Wild One" said, "What am I rebelling against? What have you got?"