The surrealism of emerging from one crisis only to wake up and find another at your doorstep is beginning to set in on Americans, much like a Salvador Dalí painting splattered on canvas. One would be hard-pressed to find a cable news station not running endless footage of mayhem and madness as more and more riots spring up in urban centers across America. As is its wont, the American media provides much superficiality but little in the way of depth at a time when meaning is sorely needed. Americans are right to dig deeper for answers to this virulent form of civil unrest overtaking the country. But if past is prologue, these riots will culminate in little more than loud and angry voices – resulting in self-defeat.
MLK Said it Best
The establishment media loves to quote Martin Luther King at such a time as this. Leftist scribes and pundits generally fall back on the infamous civil rights leader’s statement: “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Today’s race rioters and the American Bolsheviks who join them in burning and looting are unable to comprehend that this was an observation by King, not guidance. How do we know this? Because King also said: “The limitations of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat.”
The ineffectuality of the riot was a common theme of Dr. King. In a 1966 interview, he added another damning element to this refrain when he said, “Riots are self-defeating and socially destructive.”
What did Dr. King know that today’s neo-Marxists have not yet been able to grasp? King was an intelligent man, a thinker who read history and intuitively understood consequences. If the purpose of a riot is to effectuate change, King could find no evidence of it, and neither can we. Here is an example:
“On a steamy evening in late June, a fistfight broke out between black and white young men at an amusement park called Belle Isle. The fighting quickly grew in scope and intensity. The violence escalated when rumors about violence against white and black women circulated, and both whites and blacks engaged in retaliatory attacks. Homes and businesses were burned and looted and people were beaten and shot. The fighting raged for three days, and 6,000 U.S. Army troops were brought in. Twenty-five black people and nine whites were killed. About 700 were injured.”
This quote, taken from Infoplease.com, is the story of a Detroit race riot that occurred in 1943. One would have to be a “lunatic on the order of a poached egg” – as C.S. Lewis once opined – to believe that things have changed for the better in Detroit.
Then there was Watts – the great race riot held in a predominantly black suburb of Los Angeles in 1965. It was big. It was bad. And it resulted in… nothing. Today Watts is still an area filled with poverty and crime; only it is now primarily Hispanic. In 1967, race riots erupted in Newark, New Jersey, that left “26 dead, 275 injured and 1,500 arrested” – not to mention the property damage that totaled more than $10M. Newark, today? Rhetorical question.
All this civil unrest led to the granddaddy of race riots – 1968. Rioting and looting swept like an Oklahoma dust storm through the cities of Baltimore, Chicago, and the District of Columbia, to name a few. The National Guard came out in full force. People were killed, millions of dollars of property damage resulted. Once again, the rioting led to… zip, nada, nothing.
Vanity Thy Name is Riot
There is mounting evidence that the desire for true racial justice is not the inspiration for the riots of 2020. As Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles said, “There’s also the Antifa factor, a lot of those videos – they’re either white or really light-skinned black folks because the people that torched that AutoZone – those were Antifa. So those racist, Antifa thugs go to these areas and incite violence and make it look like it’s the black residents of the city doing it.” Liberty Nation’s Legal Affairs Editor Scott Cosenza punctuated this point, “You’ve got a bunch of skinny white kids just beating store windows for the reason that it’s a great time to be an anarchist and to create chaos if that’s your goal.”
One must conclude that what began as a protest resulting from the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis is rapidly morphing into an opportunity for radical socialists to engage in nothing more than a feel-good moment of vanity. But, “Vanity,” as French novelist George Sand wrote, “is the quicksand of reason.” As such, conceit and a need for self-importance are what burns in the hearts of these people setting urban centers ablaze. And because this type of violence has never effectuated any long term change of meaningful social value in race relations in America, we must recognize it as nothing more than an indulgence in vanity that will only result in making the situation worse.
These riots will only serve to foment the bad blood between the black community and the men in blue. It is entirely possible – if not probable – that the civil unrest we are witnessing will result in more rather than fewer George Floyds. For, in the end, the lawlessness and violence of riots only ratchet up tensions between police and the communities they are supposed to serve.
Once again, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may have said it best: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.