Life In A Global Pandemic, Part 9

In Omnipotent Government, Ludwig von Mises describes how the foundation for a Nazi takeover of Germany was laid in part by large groups of unemployed men hanging around in militias. They say idle hands are the devil's playground, and that is probably true.

As of this writing, there are close to 40 million newly unemployed - or should I say disemployed? - people in the United States, thanks to "lockdown" or "quarantine" policies that we now know were far too draconian than they needed to be, given the severity of COVID-19. What have all those idle hands been up to lately?

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No one knows what was going through Derek Chauvin's head when he knelt on top of George Floyd in broad daylight, with cameras rolling, as the latter man begged for mercy and finally died. Chauvin and the four other officers involved in the killing were fired. As protests erupted in Minneapolis over the systemic mistreatment of blacks in the US criminal justice system, charges of third-degree murder were ultimately brought against Chauvin; although it's fair to wonder if the killing really was third-degree murder, and not second-degree murder as most reasonable people have concluded.

What an odd name, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin, get it? Like chauvinism.

And so protests erupted. Soon video emerged of white men, dressed all in black, wearing gas masks, and carrying umbrellas in the sunshine, systematically breaking windows with hammers and lighting things on fire before quietly walking away. On the videos, the peaceful black protesters try to stop them, but they can't. It is suggested by the various publishers of these videos that these disguised white men are the ones who turned the protests into riots.

Who were these men? The mayor of Minneapolis suggested that they were white supremacists from out-of-state. They might also have been members of "Antifa," which is not really an "organization," per se, despite news that the White House wishes to label them as a terrorist organization. Antifa is an ideology more than an organization. Those aligned with Antifa often show up at left-leaning protests and cause trouble. They ostensibly wish to fight anything they view to be "fascism," but their ideological agenda is a Marxist-Leninist one. So were those who started the riots in Minneapolis "members" of Antifa? Who knows?

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Within hours of the riots, the sympathetic left on social media took to their news feeds, their tweets, their status updates, and their stories to urge "people" not to condemn the riots, but to instead seek to understand why black victims of systemic racism in the United States would wish to riot in the first place.

I find this reaction to be odd.

It's odd because no amount of police brutality justifies a violent mob attacking innocent bystanders and looting private businesses. An argument could be made that Black America has a legitimate moral cause to destroy government buildings, court houses, police precincts, and the like. But stealing TVs? Such actions can only be morally justified on Marxist-Leninist grounds, i.e. according to the ideology of Antifa and its ilk. Private property is, according to this belief system, yet another tool of oppression, and it is fair and right, and perhaps even erogatory, to destroy it.

Of course, no one participating in a riot has spent any significant amount of time seeking epistemic moral justification for their actions. All they're really doing is seizing the opportunity. When "everyone else" is looting and destroying, you may as well get yours, too. Whoever started the riots knew this to be true of mobs, in fact they were counting on it. You only try to start a riot when you believe that the mob will follow-on with whatever destruction you've chosen to initiate. That's the whole point of inciting a mob.

It is for this reason that people should not seek to understand the rioters. Violent mobs don't have a cause. Violent mobs don't have a modus operandi. Violent mobs are breakdowns of social order, in which any terrible thing can happen. Looting and vandalism are comparatively modest outcomes here. The real dangers of a violent mob are murder and rape. Anyone who has any experience with a dangerous, teeming hoard knows this to be true.

Peaceful protests and violent mobs are in two entirely different categories. No, we should not seek to understand a mob. We should run for our lives, and then morally condemn them in the strongest ways available to us.

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I'm a 40-year-old American man. Sadly, this is not my first race riot. I am old enough to quite vividly remember the LA riots that broke out in the wake of the verdict in the Rodney King beating. Then, members of the Los Angeles Police Department were acquitted of using excessive force on Mr. King, despite the beating having been captured on video. If you're young and you've never seen the video, or if it's been a while since you've seen it, I recommend you remind yourself what was on that video. Watch it again, and keep in mind that the courts found the police not guilty of using excessive force.

When you're done watching that video, watch Rodney King's public statement to the media on the riots. Rodney King himself, a well-spoke if not particularly eloquent man who was quite nearly beaten to death by the Los Angeles Police Department, observed the ensuing LA race riots and spoke out against rioting, famously imploring people: "Can we all get along?" Watch the video. You can see the horror, the confusion, and the sadness on his face.

Then, imagine being beaten nearly to death, imagine successfully bringing a trial against the monsters who almost took your life, imagine losing that trial, and then imagine watching all of your supposed "supporters" burn your home to the ground, taking many African-American-owned small businesses with it.

Finally, imagine seeing all that and sympathizing with the mob. That is what today's woke social media leftists want you to do.

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Of course, it's impossible to sympathize with a mob. The mob will turn on you. You do not control a mob. All you can do is follow the mob wherever it goes, and if the mob chooses to drag you down, the mob will do so, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

On social media, a woman suggested that my decision to speak out against violent riots "speaks volumes" about my supposed racism. On the contrary, however, I think it speaks volumes about the far left in today's society that they endorse the mob. Their memories are too short to remember the LA riots, and certainly too short to remember the race riots of the early 1960s. It has been utterly fascinating to contrast the ideological responses to racial violence then and now.

Perhaps if George Floyd had lived, he would have served as a cooling voice during today's riots, as Rodney King did almost 30 years ago. I don't know, of course. I know nothing about George Floyd other than that he was an innocent man murdered in broad daylight in front of a camera, and that American society has grown so accustomed to seeing such videos that we no longer consider them to be shocking.

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There were protests, which sadly turned violent, and there are think-pieces and social media updates. Everyone is navel-gazing about this, and while they do, they urge high-minded thoughts about the state of race relations in America today. Whites are urging each other to check their privilege and to learn about the black experience in America.

All such commentary is self-indulgent silliness.

While it's always a good idea to engage in self-improvement and to become a less bigoted person, white racism did not kill George Floyd. Police brutality killed George Floyd, systemic police brutality, fed with dollars from the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. A narcissistic, emboldened police force with near-immunity in the courts and one of the most politically powerful labor unions in the country killed George Floyd. A corrupt and unassailable criminal justice system that has financial incentives to murder and/or imprison blacks and latinos killed George Floyd.

You're not going to solve that problem by reading about Martin Luther King. You're not going to solve that problem by allowing more black voices a chance to be heard. You're only going to solve that problem by dismantling the police state.

It's natural for human beings, when confronted with an unsolvable problem, to assume instead that they are confronted with an easier problem, and to solve the easier problem instead.

Thus, and somewhat incredibly, we see that there is at least one problem in America that is a more unsolvable problem than racism: The police.

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