Monday, February 22, 2021

Violent Riots as Political Action

Normally, Jesse Singal is a good and serious journalist. Yet, in essaying to explain the spike in violent crime in American cities he does a less than creditable job.

202o saw waves of violent and destructive protests in major American cities. They were not led by the Proud Boys or Trump supporters. In response, local governments decided that the best answer was to defund the police, and, at the least to trash the reputations of the police, the better to foster disrespect for them. Local governments also decided to empty jails and offer up new no-bail policies, the effect of which was to put more criminals on the street. And to tell criminals that they could do what they wanted, with impunity. 

From Minneapolis to Seattle to Portland to San Francisco to New York to Chicago to Philadelphia, it was open season on the police, but also on white people.

Among the points that Singal does not acknowledge is this-- it was politically expedient in an election year to mount an insurrection against Donald Trump and against white people. It was not only a get out the black vote drive. It was a way to threaten the populace-- give us what we want, a return to the Obama years, or we will burn your house down.

It might not have been organized, but it was political action. It was based on the assumption that crimes committed by certain groups of people were not really crimes. They were acts of rebellion against injustice and oppression.

Democrat politicians, led by Sen. Kamala Harris, cheered on rioters. They raised money to get them out of jail. It was not just that the black community did not hold the rioters to account. It glorified them as a vanguard of the revolution. Committing a crime was not just derelict behavior; it was politically charged, a vote against Donald Trump.

Singal opens by suggesting that American cities saw a spike in murders, but not in larceny and burglary.

At the most basic level of analysis, experts view the surge as the result of a worst-case confluence of forces — the stresses of a pandemic and the intensity of the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd — that pushed already-frayed neighborhoods into spirals of violence. That can partly explain why the bloodshed wasn’t evenly distributed. Some places remained as peaceful as ever. In others, the rise in murders was even more dramatic than it was nationally. Chicago saw a 37 percent year-over-year increase between the first halves of 2019 and 2020.And in New York City, by December 20, 2020, there had been a 40 percent increase over the 2019 numbers….

In addition to the sheer magnitude of the increase, part of what made 2020 so noteworthy was a split between violent crime and other types, such as property, that researchers weren’t expecting — just about every sort of crime other than gun homicides went down. 

Seriously, is he counting the billions of dollars in damage caused by rioting, arson, looting and pillaging? In New York’s Soho people were breaking into luxury boutiques and taking whatever they wanted. In other cities shops were burned down, after being looted. The police stood by because they had been told to stand by. Perhaps the local administrations considered these crimes to be just. Perhaps they considered the looted merchandise to be reparative justice. Surely, the criminal element understood that they could do what they pleased, and that local officials had their back. The police understood that local officials were at the ready to stab them in the back.

Did the damage caused by rioting show up in the crime statistics? I suspect that most of it did not.

And then there was a defund the police movement, a systematic promotion of disrespect for the police. Somehow or other Singal managed to find someone who explains that cops, after suffering a beat down for being instruments of white supremacy, were not more hands off because they understood that local governments would not support them, but because of the coronavirus.

He quotes Roseanna Ander, head of a University of Chicago Urban Lab:

Ander explained that while the pandemic forced beat cops into a more hands-off approach to their work, the protests raised the question of whether, and to what extent, communities want police heavily involved in day-to-day life in high-crime neighborhoods in the first place. The skepticism comes from an understandable place, given the extent to which “engaged” policing has come to be seen as synonymous with “abusive” policing.“Unfortunately, the measures we have for proactive policing are things like street stops,” she said. “But there are other forms of proactive policing that I think are important but not well measured, like police engaging with residents, getting out of their cars, talking to business owners, and really being engaged. And I think what we’ve seen is a reduction in all proactive policing, both the kind we can measure and the kind that is not well measured, and that is probably having an impact on what we’re seeing in terms of community trust in police, but also police effectiveness.”

Oblivious-- it would be a kind word to apply to this silly analysis. By Ander’s dim lights the reason  for the problem is that the police are not chatting up the local citizenry often enough.

But why, pray tell, would you imagine that they would want to do so. The local government is happily blaming the police for crimes that are committed by residents. If the police use anything resembling force to apprehend a perpetrator, local officials will accuse the police of using too much force. Even if the criminals are apprehended, local prosecutors are more likely to release them immediately. 

Anyway, these analyses border on the absurd. They fail to notice that 2020 was a political year. They fail to notice that the American left had been producing seditious rhetoric non stop, directed against President Trump. They fail to see that constant abuse and harassment of the president and the constant attracts against white privilege and white supremacists gives local hoodlums a green light to foment violence against American institutions, from the police to government offices to shops and stores. To be clear, when you say that white people have what they have because of some privilege, you are saying that they have not earned what they have. And you are also saying that those who are not white and who have less have a moral right to take what has presumably been taken from them. The riots were leftist rhetoric put into action.

As political action, the truth is that the riots worked to contribute to an atmosphere that the left happily used to bring down Trump.

But, now that the American right made a colossal mistake by storming the Capitol building, the story of the riots is receding. Since Trump supporters, mistakenly under the impression that political violence was legal tender, managed to fall into the trap that the left had laid for them, the riots of 2020 are being erased from memory by cries of outrage about what happened on January 6.

Of course, the media and the intelligentsia would have done everything in their power to absolve the 2020 rioters of their insurrectionary behavior. It was an astonishingly bad move for Trump supporters to provide fuel for their fire.


Sam L. said...

I'd like to see a study of how many people left cities after the rioting, and how many businesses were trashed/burned, and then left.

Kansas Scout said...


Sam L. said...

I forgot to say that The STUPID is STRONG in Democrat states/areas. Mea Culpa.

autothreads said...

It might not have been organized, but it was political action.

The fact that the political left suppressed rioting and demonstrations after the election, to avoid provoking sympathy for Pres. Trump, as indicated in that Time magazine article about "fortifying" the election, shows that the riots last year were indeed organized.