Protests and looting: What’s the difference?

George Floyd was callously murdered by a police thug. People have risen up in protest. Others took the opportunity for violence and looting. And others took advantage of the latter to score political points and aggravate societal divisions.

In a radio discussion, some talkers, addressing the protests and the looting together, said it’s wrong to see this as about “property” when it’s really all about everything non-whites suffer, and justified rage against it. Former TV reporter Linda Ellerbee said the burning and looting are just like the Boston Tea Party, an act of rebellion we now celebrate, asking “What’s the difference?”

No. Protest marches are about justified rage. Opportunistic looting has nothing to do with that. Nobody who smashed a store window to steal stuff did it for George Floyd. We must stand up against the violence he suffered — and against the violence suffered by victims of looting and burning, numerous honest businesses (many minority owned). Putting the protests and the looting in the same frame is morally wrong and just plays into the hands of the Trumps of the world, all too eager to do exactly that, to delegitimize the protests.

Trump spouts about violence and “law and order.” Then, right outside the White House, he has peaceful demonstrators attacked with horses, tear gas, and clubbing. To clear the way for his walk to a church whose doors he never otherwise darkens, to pose holding a book he’s never read. Who’s guilty of violence? Who’s breaching law and order?

Meantime yesterday, in stark contrast, Joe Biden delivered a speech demonstrating the kind of decency, vision, and leadership America so desperately needs, now more than ever. Please read it:

If you somehow still imagine America a better country with Trump than Biden, I beseech you to shine a searchlight into your heart and soul.


One Response to “Protests and looting: What’s the difference?”

  1. Lee Says:

    Please check out Trevor Noah’s YouTube video on this topic. It starts out slowly but gets better.

    A point that he (and others) make is that the laws and the social contract between us work when they are reciprocal. I don’t kill you and you don’t kill me works out best for the both of us. I don’t destroy your property and you don’t destroy my property. Etc.

    However, if I am killing your loved ones and robbing you of your property then the incentives are all different when you are deciding whether to kill me or destroy my property. If I am violating my side of the contract, maybe you are not compelled to honor your side of the contract.

    I am a pacifist and so I abhor violence on principle, not merely as a consequence of the social contract. However, not everyone out there is like me. Some see that too many people are failing to honor the laws and social contract when it comes to protecting People of Color and, through their rioting, these people are showing us that they are not so sure that there is any contract left to preserve.

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