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A few quick thoughts leap to mind on the spreading riots. First, where the heck are Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? This is perfect for them, and it somehow seems disappointing without their presence, like apple pie without ice cream. They should have had first-class tickets to Minneapolis that afternoon. They should have led our fractured society toward healing by stealing the inaugural television out of the very first Target, officially kicking off the healing process of looting and vandalism, sort of like a politician throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game. They should be on every TV news program for weeks. Where are they? You think I’m kidding. I’m not. Where are they?
Second, I can’t believe that the looters think that they are healing a fractured nation by stealing electronics from retail stores. But I struggle to understand their real motivation. Harvard professor Cornel West said:
It is a lynching at the highest level, nobody can deny it. And I thank God that we have people in the streets. Could you imagine this kind of lynching taking place and people are indifferent, people don’t care, people are callous?
So a bad cop kills somebody, and he thinks that multi-city crime sprees make sense. When Dr. West spills his coffee, does he decide to burn down his neighbor’s house in an effort to protect future cups of coffee? If he did so, would he expect that to work? I don’t understand his logic here. What do televisions in Target stores have to do with race relations?
And before anybody tries to misinterpret that metaphor (or possibly analogy?), no, I’m not comparing a human life to spilled coffee. I’m trying to illustrate irrational responses to problems.
And because I’m in a bad mood, I’ll quote Dr. West one more time:
I think we are witnessing America as a failed social experiment. And what I mean by that is that the history of black people for over 200-something years in America has been looking at America’s failure. Its capitalist economy could not generate and deliver, in such a way that people could live lives of decency. The nation-state, its criminal justice system, its legal system could not generate protection of rights and liberties.
So a bad cop kills somebody, and that means capitalism doesn’t work?
I wonder what that police officer thought about tax policy. Or free-market economies. Or Latin American economic policy.
What on earth?
And re-read this sentence: “And what I mean by that is that the history of black people for over 200-something years in America has been looking at America’s failure.” Ah, I see. Thanks for clarifying what you meant by that. Wow. Ok, I think I know what he’s trying to say, but geez. The man’s a Harvard professor, and that’s barely even readable.
And then his last sentence, where he says that the nation-state could not protect rights and liberties — that’s a strange thing to say after just saying that you support rioting in the streets, with no apparent consequences for the rioters. And he should remember that the police officer has already been arrested and charged with murder. So perhaps the criminal justice system can protect rights.
There are bad people out there. Some of them are cops. That’s why we have a criminal justice system. And again, the cop has already been charged with murder, and is in jail, awaiting trial. That’s how our criminal justice system works.
And then, most obviously, how can someone like Cornel West complain about capitalism? He grew up in Sacramento in an upper-middle-class family. His mother was a teacher and a principal, and his father was a general contractor for the Department of Defense. Dr. West is a professor at the most prestigious university in the world, and earns very good money teaching, and writing books. And now he says, “Its capitalist economy could not generate and deliver, in such a way that people could live lives of decency?” His life seems pretty decent. How is that possible? What made that possible? Capitalism seems to have worked out ok for him, and for most of his friends.
So despite the overwhelming evidence of capitalism’s success displayed by his own experience, what does he cite as evidence of capitalism’s failure?
A bad cop in Minneapolis.
When the black cop in Minneapolis shot an unarmed white woman in her driveway a few years ago, did that demonstrate the failures of capitalism? Well, why not?
Lastly, I wonder about the political implications of these riots. When Democrat voters destroy Democrat cities so that the Democrat media can blame Republicans, I just don’t think that will really hurt Republicans in elections. Russiagate improved Trump’s poll numbers. The coronavirus response looks like it might do so as well. And I suspect that by the time these riots are over, a lot of voters around the country may be thinking, “My God. I don’t want more of that.” If Trump responds to this like I suspect that he might, he may come out of this looking pretty good.
I’m not sure how all this is going to turn out, but I’ll make two predictions: The next mayor of Minneapolis will be a Democrat, and their next police chief will be black. Just like the leaders who led them into this mess to begin with.
The people of Minneapolis are stealing televisions and burning down buildings. If they really thought that their city leaders hired police to kill black people, they would simply vote those leaders out of office.
That’s not what they’re doing. And I’ll bet that’s not what they’ll do at the next election.
As I so often say, I hope I’m wrong.
Please note that I’m writing about the riots, and I did not discuss the police officer who appeared to kill a citizen on video, or the unfortunate citizen himself. We should all pray for the soul of George Floyd — it sounds like his life was difficult, and he met a horrible end. That is tragic. This is one point which I think everyone agrees on, and it should be emphasized.
And we should pray for justice. The police officer has already been arrested and charged with murder. I hope the truth is illuminated, and there is justice. We’ll see.
But again, I’m not writing about those men. And I’m not writing about the criminal justice system. I’m writing about the riots which are spreading from city to city now.
Also please note that I did not discuss race in any detail. I didn’t discuss it because I’m not sure that it’s relevant. This doesn’t seem to be about race. I think Dr. West is right, and this is more about politics and government control of the economy than the rights of black people.
The rioters hit the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. So a bad cop in Minnesota leads to vandalism at a television station in Georgia. What on earth?
These are strange times.Published in