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CSotD: On the one hand/On the other

Steve Sack threads the needle, speaking from Minneapolis where the whole thing started and carefully making the memorial for George Floyd substantially larger than those of other factors in the city.

That seems to be well-earned, by the way: Floyd is very warmly remembered in his hometown of Houston, where he was a standout athlete and apparently a stand-up guy. Some 60,000 people turned out in his honor the other day, not to remember an abstraction but a real man they had known, at least by reputation if not in person.

And Houston has kept the peace, which brings us to the other, smaller memorials in Sack’s cartoon.

Back in the Watts riots of ’65, local black store owners spray-painted “Soul Brother” on their shops, hoping to avoid being burnt out and looted; This time around, we saw LA police handcuff black store owners while the looters ran off.

It is worth pointing out that protesters and looters are not the same thing, but when the dust has settled and things have calmed down, the damage remains.

 

Signe Wilkinson notes that much of the damage is borne by people of color, and that may be — I would suspect “is” — a difference between now and a generation or two ago.

It would be interesting to total up the stores in ghettos, to compare how many are locally owned versus how many are owned by people who take their profits home to the suburbs at night, between the ’60s and the current day.

But these inner city neighborhoods are already “food deserts,” and when the local grocery store — whoever owns it, however inadequate its selection — is burnt out, it may be over a year before it reopens.

However, while local authorities seem to be spinning when they claim the troublemakers are from out of state, it seems likely that they are not from the neighborhood.

Are they “antifa”? Are they right-wing provocateurs? Are they government plants?

There’s no such thing as “antifa,” at least in the sense of an actual group. There are people who call themselves “antifa” because it gives their lives meaning.

Similarly, I interviewed Bobby Seale in the early 80s, and he said one of the problems the Panthers had was that any fool with a leather car coat and a pair of shades could claim to be a Panther, while the grandstanding of Eldridge Cleaver distracted from the actual work the party was doing in poor, black neighborhoods.

What I remember of those days from my side of the racial divide was a number of young white kids who took their identity from being radical but whose radicalism had a lot more to do with making speeches than with volunteering in soup kitchens, free clinics or practical political campaigns.

But it probably doesn’t matter who is smashing the windows and looting the stores, or, at least, it won’t matter in three months for people who will no longer be able to walk to get groceries and who will have to add bus fares and wasted hours to the normal costs of living where they must.

Nor will it change things for them to know that the vast majority of protesters were honest, righteous protesters and that the vandals and looters were a very small perverse percentage of the group.

 

I like Paul Berge‘s take, because the people who call for peaceful protest but draw the line at damage remind me too much of the targets of Phil Ochs’ “Love Me, I’m a Liberal,” saying

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old DAR
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
Hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don’t talk about revolution
That’s going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, i’m a liberal

As noted here yesterday, there’s a difference between an explanation and an excuse. You don’t have to excuse it, but you should have the grace and intelligence to be able to explain it and not expect everyone to act as if they’d grown up in your world.

 

Also, I refuse to admit that Joe Liccar’s cartoon made me giggle.

 

As Ann Telnaes notes, there’s precious little to giggle about, now that Dear Leader has ramped things up and turned a civil rights issue into a potential civil war.

Make no mistake: He is on record, not just admiring the Chinese government but having praised their resolute action in Tiannamen Square, where — following the famous pause for one brave soul — troops slaughtered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of demonstrators.

“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength,” Trump replied. “That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak…as being spit on by the rest of the world.”

He has since noted that he did say they were “horrible,” but that’s a dubious qualifier, particularly when he has now followed the example of his hero, Vladimir Putin, who deployed Russian-speaking soldiers with no unit patches in Eastern Ukraine and denied that it was an invasion.

 

These unmarked shock troops have since been identified as Bureau of Prisons employees.

Which answers “who” but does not address “why.”

 

Perhaps when Dear Leader has finished inspecting the White House bunker and, as Mike Luckovich suggests, the underside of the Resolute Desk, he’ll explain why he feels calling out the troops on his own people is necessary.

 

Of course, times have changed. I’m old enough to remember back when the president didn’t used to need tear gas and rubber bullets to clear a path, or shock troops to keep him safe.

 

But you can’t begin to govern without law and order, and it helps if you cut down on the bureaucracy and, as Tom Toles suggests, don’t tie things up with a lot of that constitutional bullshit.

And I’m sure it wouldn’t interest anybody, outside of a small circle of friends.

 

Community Comments

#1 Bill Harris
June/4/2020
@ 10:19 am

The photograph of DJT walking between the phalanx of police in riot gear is the most frightening imagine I’ve seen this week.

#2 Paul Berge
June/4/2020
@ 7:15 pm

Liccar’s cartoon reminds me of the mother who caught her son looting during the Baltimore riots a couple years back:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijAkvDTn0Vg

P.S., thanks for the cite and the link!

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