Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Criminal Justice Reform, Derrick Chauvin, Donald Trump, Equity Markets, George Floyd, Glenn Reynolds, Jane Coaston, National Guard, Police Unions, Qualified Immunity, racism, War on Drugs, Will Collier, Willie Delwiche
My fervent hope is that the reaction of horror to George Floyd’s murder is universal. However, my perspective on the violence that’s erupted over the week since is also one of disgust. The perpetrators are using Floyd’s death as an opportunity to unleash attacks that undermine civil society and often hurt people of color more than anyone.
The peaceful protests against police brutality and racism in cities across the country are earnest calls for reform, and they also represent fine tributes to all victims of racism. But a different dynamic takes hold when peaceful protesters are infiltrated by violent elements. Agitators use the cover of the protests and typically begin to dominate the scene as darkness falls, though sometimes it happens in broad daylight. The violence, arson, looting, and shooting are perpetrated by a combination of those whose political motivations go well beyond needed reforms to the justice system and other opportunists who are primarily interested in loot, or just a riotous a good time. There are also some otherwise non-violent protesters emboldened by the agitators to cheer on these acts of violence.
As others have said, the rioting does not serve to honor George Floyd in any way, and it does nothing to end racism or racial victimization. By cheering on these malefactors you lose any legitimate claim as an enemy of racism. The rioting, if anything, brings harm to the black community. Black lives are lost in the strife, such as the retired police captain in St. Louis who was shot Monday night defending his friend’s pawn shop. Blacks are also losing their livelihoods as a consequence of the destruction.
The left-wing, anarchist agitators are modern blackshirts masquerading as anti-fascists. Their interest, and delusion, is the violent overthrow of our government. They are largely white millennials, mostly male, and largely unemployed as a result of the ill-advised coronavirus lockdowns imposed in many states. Antifa has been prominent in these attacks, often running under Black Lives Matter flags, and the radical wing of BLM participates as well.
These pigs have been coddled by leftist state and local government officials in many cities, who send outmanned police forces to try to keep the damage in check while releasing those arrested the next day. President Trump was absolutely right on Monday to call out the national guard and raise the possibility of deploying military forces where state and local officials are incapable or unwilling to bring these situations under control.
And here’s the thing: all it takes is a few agitators, along with their enthusiastic but less ideological recruits, to destroy communities. There have been larger numbers in big cities, perhaps a few thousand hard-core shit disturbers. Slowly but surely, perhaps due to Trump’s prodding, state and local politicians are awakening and enabling law enforcement to effectively quell the unrest. The agitators, who are fairly well organized, are being infiltrated by moles who will undermine their operations and perhaps aid in prosecuting higher-level organizers and funders at the federal level. In the end, the force of anarchists is fairly small and the local support they manage to stir is fleeting.
While we recoil at the harm inflicted by the riots, another perspective is offered by the equity markets, which have been relatively unfazed through the turmoil. The values of firms in the security business have risen, but otherwise, as one investment strategist says:
“‘Right now it’s limited enough that it’s not perceived as having a meaningful economic impact,’ said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. ‘The risk to the market right now is excessive optimism,’ and headlines from protests could simply be dampening that optimism a bit, he added.”
The riots are destructive of lives and economic value, and while we mourn those caught up in these tragedies, the situation does not portend a total social collapse. The overall impact on the U.S. economy expected by markets is not of a magnitude suggesting great instability. This too shall pass, though not easily for the small businesses and employees being ruined by the double jolt of lockdowns and riots.
Besides the outright harm to the black community by the riots, there are other disturbing elements that must be confronted. I keep hearing “White silence = violence”. No, “white silence” is neither responsible for the actions of George Floyd’s killer nor the riots in the streets. What must one say to avoid personal responsibility for the aberrant behavior of Derrick Chauvin and the rioters? What I hear are ignorant excuses and accusations: the violence is inexcusable and it is no one’s fault but the participants, whatever their circumstances.
People of good faith oppose the brutality inflicted by bad cops and a system that tolerates them. It is surely time for some reforms, as the following suggests:
And there are still other promising criminal justice reforms to consider. We need to end the drug war, which is particularly harmful to minority communities.
I bemoan the poor circumstances and education that have burdened many of the disaffected protesters, and even the rioters. I advocate for policies that I believe promote improved education and family stability. I have advocated for a safety net. I have shared my distaste for the unnecessary COVID-19 lockdowns that forced so many of these individuals out of their jobs for several months. But from some quarters, the demands have no end. Not until I bow down on my hands and knees to apologize for the sins of generations past. Who cares if they weren’t my ancestors? I’m white! The next demand is reparation payments to today’s generations of blacks. Don’t complain that impoverished whites won’t share in the gains, though there are more than twice as many of them. They simply failed to capitalize on the opportunity afforded by their privilege. I’m sorry for the sarcasm….
Please mourn George Floyd’s horrible death and support the protests against the brutality that killed him, but do not pretend for a moment that the violence is in any way justified, or that it will create a healthier society. Don’t root for that shit. And don’t cast aspirations at your fellow men and women as if the color of their skin is responsible for the social ills you’ve taken up as a cause. It does nothing to further solutions.