The Democrats’ blind spot on rioting and looting

5 mins read


Why were leading Democrats so slow to speak up forcefully against the rioting and looting that has plagued American cities for months? Why did it take bad poll numbers to spur some leading Dems and their media auxiliary to speak up?

Maybe Democrats are worried about alienating their base. But their base doesn’t favor rioting and looting. Normal Blacks and white liberals may feel they understand the rage that’s supposedly behind the rioting and looting, but they still don’t like to see these forms of criminal behavior.

We know that normal Blacks don’t want riots and looting because, almost invariably, even family members of those shot by the police urge people to protest peacefully, not to riot and loot. Blacks understand not only the senselessness of such behavior, but also the fact that the Black community suffers the most from it.

So why do so many Democrats fail to speak up promptly and forcefully against rioting and looting? In our most recent Power Line program for VIPs, Steve answered the question by saying there’s something in the Dems’ DNA that prevents them from doing so. He reminded us that in the 1960s, the liberals who wrote the Kerner Commission Report seemed almost to justify the rioting that plagued many of our big cities back then.

There was, of course, much more for Blacks to feel aggrieved about in the 1960s than there is today. For example, these days Blacks have a large amount of say in running many of our cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. for example. Blacks are the mayors of some and the police chiefs of others. And in some big cities, they are a majority, or at least a plurality, of the police force.

But DNA is DNA, so maybe Steve’s theory is right. I don’t have a better one.

Finally, I can resist discussing this exchange in an interview Steve posted today between a PBS interviewer and Vicky Osterweil, author of In Defense of Looting.

Q. What are some of the most common myths and tropes that you hear about looting?

A. . . . one is that looters are just acting as consumers: Why are they taking flat screen TVs instead of rice and beans? Like, if they were just surviving, it’d be one thing, but they’re taking liquor.

All these tropes come down to claiming that the rioters and the looters don’t know what they’re doing. They’re acting, you know, in a disorganized way, maybe an “animalistic” way. But the history of the movement for liberation in America is full of looters and rioters. They’ve always been a part of our movement.

(Emphasis added)

Osterweil is talking nonsense. When people note that looters are taking flat screen televisions and electronic equipment, rather than necessities of life, their point isn’t that looters don’t know what they are doing. Their point is that looters know exactly what they are doing. They are taking free stuff — the stuff they want. They aren’t taking rice and beans because they have the food they need, or can get it with food stamps.

In other words they are “acting as consumers” with the important caveat that they aren’t paying for the consumer goods. Osterweil has no answer to this “trope.”

Is “the history of the movement for liberation in America full of looters. . . .”? I don’t think so.

What looting occurred during the women’s liberation movement? I must have missed it.

Was the LGBT movement built on looting? I’m aware of the Stonewall riots in 1969, but not of any looting by gays and/or lesbians that occurred at that time. Or any since. The intervening 50 years saw the “liberation” of gays and lesbians.

The major riots by inner city Blacks in the 1960s occurred after the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. Passage of the former bill was preceded by the famous peaceful march on Washington that occurred 57 years and one day ago.

Rioting and looting have been peripheral to the movement to enhance freedom for Blacks in America. Normal Blacks seem to understand this. Do leading Democratic politicians?



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