The response to the killing of George Floyd by police has morphed from protests to violence. Looting is rampant across the nation. Reports (and videos) of assaults on shopkeepers and bystanders are swamping social media. Protestors, police officers, and unlucky third-parties have been maimed or killed.

There is a stark difference between peaceful protest, no matter how loud or agitated, and the sorts of violence that are now being met with “hats and bats” police activity, curfews, boarded storefronts, armed individuals standing vigil, mobilization of National Guards in several states, and the US military. The former is a historically effective means of effecting political change. The latter is a destabilization that furthers cultural divides, rather than healing them, and it can lead to terrible consequences and outcomes. In the words of Admiral Painter, “this business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”

Yet, despite the violence, the injuries, and the destruction of property (and livelihoods) wholly unrelated to the Floyd killing, we hear voices of support and solidarity from many quarters for all of it, not just the (peaceful) protests that I consider warranted and that I support. The violence is being, if not condoned, at least excused, by the well-meaning and piously progressive. Much of the talk of “mob psychology” and “helpless rage” are not merely clinical analyses, but actual support for this inexcusable destruction and mayhem.

What these ‘allies,’ who I suspect are a – posting from places where they don’t feel any personal fear, and b – would immediately change their tune should the destruction find its way to them or their property, are telling us with this attitude is that they don’t believe that the protestors are capable of making their case without looting stores and burning buildings. This mirrors the progressive movement’s decades-long paternalism toward minorities, as shown by the endless efforts to manage their lives on their behalf. It’s as if these excusers of the violence think the violent can’t help themselves, that they’re incapable of the sort of peaceful protest that has proven effective in times past (MLK and Gandhi are the most obvious, but certainly not unique.

In demanding that the violent not be resisted or arrested, the excusers create moral hazard.

Opportunists, including anarchists of various flavors, activists who seek instability as a path to a socialist restructuring (looking at you, Alinskyites), and apolitical criminals, both solitary and (well) organized, who simply see the chance to steal at reduced risk, are all encouraged by those who demand we abandon the normal precepts of an orderly society and the proper duties of the government to protect individual and property rights.

Partisans who see everything through their Trump-derangement-tinted glasses are conflating the protestors with the criminals, either because they cannot bring themselves to think rationally and distinguish between the two, or because their desire to see Trump gone is so all-consuming that they’re OK with “killing the spider by burning down the house.”

And, political grandstanders do the only thing they know how to do: make it about themselves without thought for the big picture. A friend told me that he heard Brooklyn Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel demand that police stop enforcing the law and simply let the looters have their run on today’s morning news. AOC is barking at the New York Times for publishing Trump’s name in a non-partisan headline, thus ensuring that she get some press for herself. Colin Kaepernick has condoned the violence as well, tweeting “[t]he cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance.” Perhaps he doesn’t realize that it was the form of his protest, not the peacefulness of it, that failed to win hearts and minds.

Ninnies on social media are questioning why “law-and-order” conservatives, who supposedly talk a big game on resisting tyranny, are not supporting the violence. They either totally miss that the violence is being directed against other citizens and their property, not against a tyrannical government, or they don’t care about that because it lets them use the word “hypocrite,” facts notwithstanding.

The violence is causing fear and panic all over the place. People who’ve shown little interest in armed self-defense are suddenly taking interest in guns, because they recognize that the police cannot be everywhere. The more thoughtful black leaders are distinguishing between the protestors and the violent, recognizing that hearts and minds will not be won through the looting of liquor stores, mom-and-pop shops, Target, Macy’s, Marshall’s, and Walgreens.

Expect less of people, and many will seize the opportunity to prove you right. Expect more of people, and you encourage them to reject the bad actors in their midst. A movement that protests outrages doesn’t succeed in winning converts or the debate by condoning its own outrages. People have a moral compass, and an outrage like the death of George Floyd, properly (and peacefully) protested, can encourage them to support good and necessary reforms, including changes to the Qualified Immunity doctrine and to the culture of “blue wall of silence” that lets bad cops get away with bad acts. Don’t ruin it by excusing or encouraging crime and criminals.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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