This weekend saw a change in tenor of the Black Lives Matter protests that seem now to stretch interminably through June. Setting aside the fact that these mass gatherings of thousands of people have nailed the coffin shut on the past months’ forever lock-downs, forcing even leftist governors and mayors to pretend easing their house arrest orders is their own idea, the first round of “protests” were anything but. They were race riots, not political protests — a mass movement of savage arson, shameless looting, and open assault in the name of racial payback.
That payback, we were told, was in the name of past and current wrongs. Some of these are real; some of them are entirely imaginary. All of them, however, carry a price tag in broken bodies and razed neighborhoods.
This weekend, as thousands of people continued to gather to tell Americans that they are a horrible, racist people who live in a horrible, racist country, and to encourage attendees to vote for the same Democrats who have presided over these horrible, racist cities for decade after horrible, racist decade, most of those assembled managed not to burn or steal. This, we were told, was proof of how peaceful the peaceful protests were, and weren’t they so very peaceful, don’t you know, when thousands of peaceful people came together to protest peacefully with the blessings of their cities’ mayors on behalf of the peaceful protests in which many of these mayors peacefully participated.
In other words, the media chanted the word “peaceful” in hopes that we’d all forget how much damage was done the previous weekend, how many people’s lives were destroyed that weekend, how many people’s businesses and even homes were ransacked or burned to the ground that weekend, and how many people were left dead in the path of a supposedly peaceful protest that, they asserted, was somehow coopted by bad actors ginned up through foreign agents, or something. The simplest explanation — that the protesters worked themselves up into a hateful, vengeful lather and then took out their frustrations on anyone within Molotov throwing range — was largely forgotten in the rush to excuse, rationalize, and justify the violence.
As countless white people bowed, scraped, knelt, and begged forgiveness for having been born white, prostrating themselves before people who cannot now and who will never be appeased by displays of self-loathing, a few people took the opposite tack. There have been, in fact, a number of people behaving badly, if ineffectually. An elderly woman faced down protesters with a baseball bat, even though those protesters weren’t damaging anything. Another woman stood in front of protesters and spit on them, making a racist fool of herself. An irate shop owner went after protesters with a running chainsaw while shouting racial epithets.
These incidents are taken as proof of racism, and they may well be — but absent the psychic powers necessary to divine the motivations of the people involved, there’s a more obvious reason that has spurred these people to action: fear. Strangely, when you burn and destroy dozens of cities across America in the name of making white people long dead pay for their history of malicious racism, white people alive today have the gall to be afraid you might mean them.
So it was that the media, and protesters recording the tableau, collapsed on their fainting couches and fanned themselves in outrage when “armed white men” in Indiana stood silently and legally with firearms at the ready as protesters marched through their neighborhood. Why, this was shades of the Sixties civil rights movement, we were told; the only thing missing were fire hoses and dogs. Forgotten was the fact that the protesters, or people marching under the same banner and the same cause, spent the previous weekend screaming for bloody revenge and burning down America’s largest cities — and then announcing that white people in the suburbs were next on their hit list. Small wonder, then, that some of those suburbanites listened and reacted, vowing to defend what little they have from people who said they were determined to destroy it.
It’s only property, we’re told — as people lose their life’s savings, their places of employment, their ability to shop for groceries in their neighborhood. Why, right wingers are being hypocrites, because NOW they want the US military called out for use on American citizens — forgetting that calls to use the military to restore order only followed the complete collapse of order, and the abdication of the duty to protect the citizenry, among the nation’s besieged police forces.
It is no more hypocrisy to use the military to end riots and looting than it is to call out the national guard to provide aid in a natural disaster. Both are conditions that represent emergencies — situations that fall outside the normal order of day-to-day society. The ethics of emergencies dictate, not that we base our moral code on the emergency itself, but that we first stop the emergency. This was the alleged justification for the COVID-19 lock-downs, after all; how are the people supporting mass protests now any less the hypocrites after condemning totally peaceful (if armed) anti-lockdown demonstrations?
Stated differently, in a free society, we do not empower citizens to shoot other citizens and pursue vigilante justice. We do, however, allow them to take unilateral and potentially lethal action to defend themselves in emergency situations where other help is not available. Using the military to restore order in a society that is burning out of control is not hypocrisy or fascism; it is self-defense.
The fact that some elements within the police and military went too far, and were too zealous in restoring order, is bad. It is, however, not a surprise. Black Lives Matter and Antifa spent the last two weeks telling the nation that they want to murder cops. A funny thing happens when you threaten people’s lives, especially those accustomed to being in authority. They react badly, often overreacting, and you get more of the behavior you didn’t want.
This is not to excuse brutality or abuse of power. Those things are bad, too. But we should understand the cause and effect, the action and reaction, at play here. No society can exist in an atmosphere of utter lawlessness and anarchy. If the police cannot restore order within the republic, the only options are military force or anarchic destruction. Most citizens favor the former over the latter. This is not hypocritical; it is common sense. This is not pragmatism; it is realism.
Burning and looting is not protesting. It is a cause that creates the effect of greater authoritarian force to quell the violence. Threatening people is not protesting. It is an action that provokes a hostile reaction among those threatened. Until Black Lives Matter and its sympathizers understand this, they will forever be working at cross-purposes to their stated goals.