Two things that can be true

One: When unarmed African-American men keep dying at the hands of police, and these police officers aren’t promptly charged and ultimately convicted of murder or manslaughter, and the police departments in question have long, disturbing histories of singling out Black people for mistreatment, and all of this is happening on the watch of a President who plays footsie with racists and neo-Nazis and even personally spreads conspiracy theories about his African-American predecessor, it is perfectly understandable that frustration will eventually boil over and some desperate people will resort to violence.

As Martin Luther King Jr., an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience whose life was taken by a white racist, said: “I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.”

Two: whenever people protest peacefully against an injustice by the state, there are always a few shit-disturbers and self-professed “antifascists” who break off, start wrecking things and ruin it for everybody. Even Sean Hannity is on their side for once, but they’re going to piss away an opportunity to advance real social change. And among those rioters are opportunists who see an opportunity to cash in by stealing things. Burning down Autozone isn’t going to end police brutality. Burning down a freaking affordable housing development isn’t going to end racism.

As The Onion‘s “Our Dumb Century” book put it, “L.A. Rioters Demand Justice, Tape Decks.”

As for Rod Dreher’s headline, are these riots “unintentionally pro-Trump”? I dunno. Rioting in the late sixties certainly helped Nixon get elected, but his whole message was that he could restore law and order to a country falling into civil unrest under a Democratic President. By contrast, the 1992 Los Angeles rioting certainly didn’t help George H.W. Bush’s re-election chances.

Trump will use violent imagery from Minneapolis in his re-election campaign, with the clear message that he can protect Americans from these people, wink wink. But the fact is, this is happening on his watch. Joe Biden, second-in-command to the first Black President, might be able to do something about it. Trump has proven that he cannot.

One thought on “Two things that can be true

  1. M says:

    Thoughtless and self-centered behaviour seems to win out so routinely that it sometimes seems futile. This is especially frustrating when it’s purely for kicks and free loot. And the seemingly ingrained instinct to push out (or kill) anyone different from the majority not just in the States, but in almost any human society leaves one wondering if there is any hope for humanity. Whoever is in power beats down those who aren’t. Those who are serious about real, long-term changes for the better are tied down by the short-sighted, selfish actions of people who just don’t care.
    As understandable as it is, violence is worth avoiding, both in itself and to avoid drawing in the opportunists. But serious changes are so necessary. Turns out the cops who were fired could simply be re-hired, when they should be in prison. One really cannot be surprised that people are angry enough to riot, even though it ultimately hurts their cause.
    As Canadians, we should appreciate our chance to make those improvements to our society that are so lacking elsewhere. All it would take here is enough people standing up to do the right thing. But complacency is often chosen over action because it’s easier to ignore problems that don’t seem to affect us directly. Until, of course, they do.

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