If you’ve been watching the news for the past week, you would’ve noticed the very quick escalation in protests around George Floyd’s murder by police officer Derek Chauvin. I want to make it clear that what happened was inexcusable and the murderer deserves every punishment that’s coming to him and more. But while anger towards these actions is justified, rioting, looting, destruction, assault and anarchy is not.
The retaliation of a breach of law and life was countered with further breaches of rights and responsibilities of citizenship by terrorists of civility. Does this sound like the correct, proportionate response, or is it being fuelled by a hidden agenda?
White privilege and the internet
Activism, rioting and a large number of protests seem to be stained with the selfish desire to advertise one’s own virtue. The keyboard warriors of our generation live for social movements and agreeable topics that they can leverage for their own image and that seems to be the case with this particular moment in time.
What is concerning is people being unknowingly bullied into adopting the title of ‘perpetrator’ on social media in an effort to signal their remorse for the actions of a very, very small percentage of people their own colour. It’s interesting to wonder whether we would be bored if all racism was actually extinguished. It may even be that many thrive on the opportunity to attach their political identity to such oppression?
Statistics show that less than one in four people killed by a police officer in the U.S. is black [sic] and the majority is, in fact, white [sic]. Yet when a white person is murdered or killed un-provoked, where are the mobs, the rioters and defenders of race and social prosecutors of police brutality? Two Police officers were reported killed in the riots against George Floyd’s murder, yet there seems to be no sight of our post-murder heroes. At least the teenagers of the internet are here to remember their names for the next two days.
Justification for bad behaviour
The riots have escalated into looting and arson, with Targets, car yards, and businesses going up in flames and shelves clearing. This is not a ‘peaceful protest’ for justice anymore, it is a poor and un-justified excuse for bad behaviour. Unless I’m mistaken, and the cash registers that were beaten in Target were actually racist murderer’s too.
The activist mindset has flipped from defending a particular group from the danger of oppression and violence to becoming the very perpetrator of what they claim to defend. My observation of the riots is that the hidden agenda (even hidden from the rioters themselves) is to provoke the police into further brutality which would justify the cause for destruction and stoke the flame of anarchy.
If Martin Luther was living…
Martin Luther King Jr said, “a riot is the language of the unheard”. He’s right, but likewise it seems that the unheard don’t know how to use their voices. If something is as un-just as the continuing circumstances of racism in the U.S., the appropriate response would be exercising the legal right to peaceful protest and the demand for a change of laws surrounding police conduct and related racism.
Given the circumstances of Floyd’s murder, the message would have carried far more weight than what community terrorism shielded under the guise of a social justice movement ever could. These riots rely on the emotional value of the civil rights movement of the 60’s to propel a new, different, hateful agenda into the 20’s that does nothing but divide and destroy.
Real change will be made in the parliaments and senates and decision-making courts of the world. Peaceful protest is a good and lawful way to express anger towards an injustice. The riots, however, seem to reflect the tantrum of a child who isn’t being heard, and the antidote is not pandering to all their needs but to encourage patience and self-control.
I’m always sceptical of large crowd movements, especially online ones that have a secondary purpose for signalling their own virtue which seems to be measured in how emotive their language is about the matter. One person’s post influences the next person’s until you’re the only one left looking like a racist for not expressing your anger online. When it all comes down, large crowds are good for nothing if not to get lost in. When you take a step back it’s easier to see things for what they are.
Jesse Moore draws from the Bible and classical literature for insight into life’s tough questions. He is currently studying at university to become a film-maker.
Jesse Moore’s previous articles can be viewed at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jesse-moore.html