After the May 25th murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, hundreds of thousands of Americans peacefully protested for police reform. Protests are producing changes, with reform bills already passed in Minneapolis and in New York state.
The idiots are the tens of thousands of rioters and looters who, during the protests, have destroyed property and injured or killed people in American cities. These idiots looted and sometimes burned thousands of businesses in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and other major cities. Mass nullification of public order is intolerable and potentially fatal. If you want to know how rule by the mob turns out, read a history of the French Revolution, such as A New World Begins by Jeremy Popkin.
Do not count on the police to be there when your business is looted or you are assaulted. During the LA riots of 1992, police ignored the Korean community’s requests for help. Koreans formed their own heavily armed militia, the famous “rooftop Koreans” who defended their community against violent mobs intent on ethnic cleansing. An armed citizenry is an essential line of defense against the mob and Wyoming citizens are heavily armed and generally responsible. This is a far from ideal solution to rioting. What happens when the armed defenders are white nationalists? Police are trained on the lawful use of force; militias and vigilantes are not. If we reach the point where we rely on militias to defend lives and property, have we then become a failed state, like Syria?
Most protests were peaceful, but protesters can make changes to reduce rioting. Our Laramie protesters chanted “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” Having marched with some of those same good people last fall, I probably chanted those words as well. Here is why I cannot say them any more. First, I don’t believe Laramie or Albany County police are racists; there are general problems with police governance and procedures, problems now being addressed, that affect police contact with all races. Second, “no justice, no peace” is Orwellian, leading you in the direction of riots. As there is never perfect justice anywhere in any society, the slogan justifies “no peace,” leading to the war of the mob against civilized society.
Peaceful protesters are unarmed and obey the law. Peaceable assembly means you don’t bring your assault rifle when demonstrating at your state capitol against COVID-19 restrictions. It means you don’t bring bricks or firebombs to a peaceful protest. It means dispersing and going home if riots cause your city to be put under curfew and that time is reached. It means not assaulting or killing police if you disagree with their orders or actions.
“Black lives matter!” It is worth saying and I say it, about the lives of George Floyd, Ariane McCree, Sean Reed, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Walter Scott, Eric Harris, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown Jr., Eric Garner, and others unjustly killed by police.
“Blue lives (of law enforcement) matter!” Lives like David Dorn’s, a 77-year-old retired police captain defending a shop in St. Louis and murdered by a looter. Captain Dorn is one of many law enforcement heroes injured or killed by the idiots. “Asian lives matter!,” like Andy Ngo’s, who suffered a brain hemorrhage after a brutal assault by the domestic terrorists of Antifa in June 2019. “White lives matter!,” like Leslie Baker’s, a 59-year-old executive and mother, murdered in Texas by a gang of teens on the same day that George Floyd was murdered. “ALL LIVES MATTER,” is what the sign in Laramie resident Pete Gardner’s window said, when an idiot threw a rock through his window.
By simple logic “All lives matter” implies “Black lives matter.” If you say the latter you should be happy to hear someone say the former, as they are agreeing with you. If these slogans have lost their meaning and become tribal totems of division instead, we should discard them.
Buildings matter too. There is no right to life without the right to property. Try surviving in Wyoming’s rugged landscape without the grocery stores, the railroads, and the power plants. For stating this simple truth that buildings matter too, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s executive editor was forced out of his job. A senior New York Times editor resigned after running an op-ed from a U.S. senator supporting the President’s right to invoke the Insurrection Act. A UCLA professor was suspended and is under police protection because he refused to exempt black students from a final exam. Much of our media and our education system are now self-censoring due to mob pressures.
Here is what the idiots have accomplished: They have distracted from and damaged the cause of police reform. They have killed dozens and injured hundreds while destroying thousands of businesses. They have worsened the economic depression. They have accelerated the move of businesses out of big cities to smaller communities or to the Internet. They have empowered “law and order” voters, the trend that elected Richard Nixon in 1968. They have eliminated empathy for themselves.
The challenge for the rest of us is to defend against idiocy without becoming idiots ourselves.
Martin L. Buchanan is a writer and software developer. Email: MartinLBuchanan@gmail.com.