The circumstances surrounding the death of Freddie Gray may not be fully understood for some time, but the consequences of that death are apparent. The city of Baltimore has been thrown into chaos by criminals always there to take advantage of a situation. Always there to use a genuine protest as an excuse to wreak havoc. Always there to make sure that the people who will suffer most are the people already suffering.
But those criminals – those rioters and looters and vessels of violence – are not as contemptible as those who defend their actions. One can almost excuse the raucous element. What else does an angry idiot do, after all, than behave like an angry idiot? Their lunacy is to be condemned, of course, but after a while it becomes like the feminists saying “only men can stop rape.” Liars lie, rapists rape, and rioters riot. At some point, you have to accept things as they are.
But these activists and liberals in the media should know better. They aren’t angry idiots. They are educated, smart, and largely dispassionate. They happen to believe in a lot of idiotic ideas, but that’s different from being the kind of monosyllabic numbskull who can only resort to violence when he runs out of words. So to see them defend this rioting as some kind of legitimate uprising is disgusting.
There was Morehouse College professor Marc Lamont Hill on CNN Monday night. “There shouldn’t be calm tonight,” he said, responding to cries for peace coming from the Baltimore government, police, and even Gray’s own family. “I think there can be resistance to oppression and when resistance occurs, you can’t circumscribe resistance.”
Hill went on to say that he is “not calling these people rioters. I’m calling these uprisings. The city is not burning because of these protesters. The city is burning because the police killed Freddie Gray.”
Dara Lind at Vox.com made a similar argument. “When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con.”
What Lind doesn’t understand, apparently, is that this isn’t the state versus the people. What is the state, if not the people? In Baltimore, activists don’t even have the luxury of blaming the violence on a lily white government. The people calling for an end to the violence are the people who have to live in this community. The people whose businesses and livelihoods are being destroyed by thugs.
The way the media portrays these things, a few people come to stand for all the rest. One cop kills a black man, and now every white cop is out for blood. The flipside is when a few blacks start throwing bottles and firebombs, we get the impression that every black protestor is doing it. But neither of these are true. The vast majority of us – black and white alike – want police to face the music when they kill wrongfully and we want the rioting to end immediately. But the extreme wingnuts always seem to have the loudest bullhorns.