When I have been asked during these last weeks who caused the riots and the killing in L.A., my answer has been direct and simple: Who is to blame for the riots? The rioters are to blame. Who is to blame for the killings? The killers are to blame.” – Dan Quayle
Now comes the requisite article about riots. What is the purpose of a riot, and why are they started? A riot breaks out when a long, or intensely simmering tension reaches a boiling point, and can no longer be contained. It is a coiled spring held down, then released freely. And what happens when a tightly coiled spring is released? It’s often unpredictable. Whatever the reason behind riots, however, they are by their nature unjustified, built upon unmitigated anger, and thus governed by violence. The riots in Ferguson are no different.
Darlena Cunha, in her article published in Time yesterday, justifies the riots in Ferguson by calling them a necessary societal evolution. She begins her piece with the following:
“When a police officer shoots a young, unarmed black man in the streets, then does not face indictment, anger in the community is inevitable. It’s what we do with that anger that counts. In such a case, is rioting so wrong?”
The premise of the question is misleading. If a police officer shoots an unarmed black man, then does not face indictment, anger is inevitable? She deliberately leaves out the very pertinent facts of the case, making it appear as though this police officer is, without question, in the wrong. Her wording paints a picture of a boot on the neck of the black community, which just naturally leads to some kind of revolutionary behavior. Her wording makes riots a lifesaving act. In reality, riots do not save lives, they often take them.
“Riots are a necessary part of the evolution of society. Unfortunately, we do not live in a universal utopia where people have the basic human rights they deserve simply for existing, and until we get there, the legitimate frustration, sorrow and pain of the marginalized voices will boil over, spilling out into our streets. As ‘normal’ citizens watch the events of Ferguson unfurl on their television screens and Twitter feeds, there is a lot of head shaking, finger pointing, and privileged explanation going on. We wish to seclude the incident and the people involved. To separate it from our history as a nation…”
And once again, Cunha’s wording paints a wildly misleading portrait. She condemns the “privileged explanation” that is allegedly occurring, because it doesn’t take into account the suffering of the oppressed minorities. She alleges that because of past oppression, and because we live in a country not fully void of racial animosity, the riots are a necessary part of our development as a nation, and a culture. What she fails to mention is that the instigating incident of the riots was based on a farce created by the media. The grand jury, after spending three months hearing over 70 hours of key witness testimony—much of it from black members of the community—and pouring over the forensic evidence, all of which pointed to Brown as the aggressor, came to the conclusion that, given the situation, officer Wilson acted within reason. Taking into account officer Wilson’s history—on which the Washington Post did an in-depth story—and noting that there is less than zero evidence indicating he holds any animosity toward black people, and given the grand jury’s decision, one cannot come to the conclusion that these riots have been sparked by justified anger.
Furthermore, regardless of the inciting incident, the riots have not only accomplished nothing with regard to advancing the state of the black community, on the contrary, they have done incredible damage to innocent bystanders with whom the rioters have no issue. Businesses haven been looted, and burned to the ground. What is to be gained by burning down a Walgreens? Nothing. It is an outlet for the evils of humanity, based on the excuse of racial injustice.
Still, Cunha digs deeper:
“Until I have had to walk in a person of color’s skin, I will never understand, I will always take things for granted, and I will be inherently privileged. But by ignoring the very real issues this country still faces in terms of race to promote an as-of-yet imaginary colorblind society, we contribute to the problem at hand, which is centuries of abuses lobbied against other humans on no basis but that of their skin color.”
Cunha then brings up an in-artful, yet still accurate comment made on a website affiliated with Tea-Party politics:
“To hear the libs, one would think that burning and looting are a justifiable way to judge negative events that effect (sic) the black…I intentionally used black because of a fact that you do not hear of these events when another skin color is in play. It is about time that the blacks start cleaning their own backyards before they start on ours.”
First, the notion that one cannot understand the suffering of others is nonsense. While it is indeed true that we may not ever be able to experience the suffering of a particular community that was oppressed for centuries in the same way as one who is part of that community, that does not mean we cannot understand it. Were that true, the abolitionist movement would never have occurred. Men, and women of all colors saw the face of evil, and knew what it was. They then acted upon their understanding, and joined the oppressed in the effort to free them. This was first observed, then understood, then accomplished by those who were not oppressed. To argue otherwise in asinine.
Second, though the comment on the Tea-Party website was blunt, it was not incorrect. He or she is correct in noting that there are deep problems within the black community that need to be solved. These problems are indeed specifically prevalent in the black community alone (which Cunha later admits), and they are not all related to, or caused by prior oppressive behavior on the part of the white establishment. More notably, the commenter was correct in his or her observation that many on the left are justifying these riots. But that’s not what Cunha wants you to see. She wants you to see an ignorant, racist boob who we will, in turn, believe represents all of those who argue against the riots. She deliberately chose a comment in which she could place a “sic,” so that we would all know how much of a moron this person is, which obviously means that his or her opinion is immediately rendered moot.
Lastly Cunha makes illegitimate comparisons:
“However, even the Tea Party gets its name from a riot, The Boston Tea Party…Samuel Adams wrote of the incident, claiming it ‘was not the act of a lawless mob, but was instead a principled protest and the only remaining option the people had to defend their constitutional rights’…That protest back in 1773 was meant to effect political and societal change, and while the destruction of property in that case may not have ended in loss of human life, the revolution that took place afterward certainly did…”
Here, Cunha’s own words nullify her argument. By quoting Adams, who described the Tea party as a principled protest, rather than the act of a lawless mob, Cunha paints quite the stark contrast. The Ferguson riots are a lawless mob; they are behaving lawlessly in mob form. And once again, the Tea Party was a reaction to an empire of oppression. To contrast that, the Ferguson riots are a reaction to an innocent man not getting indicted for killing an aggressive criminal, who just moments prior to his death, robbed a convenience store.
Cunha goes on to justify the LA riots in the same way, but her argument is long dead and buried at this point. She wants to hold up to the light these riots as an act of noble rebellion, comparable to the great revolutions of history, but in reality, these violent riots are nothing more than an excuse to destroy civilized society.
There is no justifiable way to burn down a QwikTrip. These riots are the act of bad people who are using an unfortunate death as an excuse to rob liquor stores, and commit arson. There was no injustice, but there has been since. To argue that these riots are justifiable in any way, and that we cannot ever possibly understand, is intellectually dishonest, and insulting.
Is rioting so wrong? I can say, with utter certainty: yes.