Liberals, Leftists, Violence, and Justice
Protests over the Grand Jury refusing to indict Darren Wilson turned destructive yesterday in cities over the United States. Protestors in San Francisco spent time smashing windows in shopping heavy Union Square and then on Mission Street. Protestors also managed to shut down shopping and transit in several other cities across the United States yesterday.
From a prospective on the left, I think how someone feels about the protests turning violent shows the break between being a liberal and being a radical. I found the Grand Jury decision to be absolutely appalling and I generally feel that the Prosecutor abandoned his responsibility and did several unorthodox things which turned the Grand Jury into a private and mini-trial. But the violence and destruction to private property seems to help absolutely no one. I don’t see how breaking windows several thousand miles away from the show-me state is going to end systematic racism in the United States. I am almost certain that no property owner on Mission Street was involved with the shooting or the grand jury. What good does it do to bash a window and terrorize bystanders except for some primal scream therapy? How does this sort of action increase the chances of someone learning about racism being institutionalized? If anything, I think it would backfire and turn sympathetic ears into unsympathetic and deaf ones.
As far as I can tell, people farther to the left of me would declare this makes me a member of the unreliable bourgeois. Someone who says that they are concerned with ending injustice but really cares more about maintaining the capitalist-consumerist system by making it more equal. I’ve never professed to be a revolutionary and I think this is firmly because a lot of revolutionaries don’t seem to think about how much death, misery, and destruction will be caused by a revolution. Many people on the utopian left also seem to be lacking a few steps in how to turn a world with seven billion people into a shiny and happy communal and property-free utopia.
President Obama was widely mocked with his statements urging calm and restraint after the Grand Jury decision. Jonathan Chait wrote an excellent essay about how Obama and Liberals are trying to balance several difficult issues in racism and that rioting and looting are counterproductive and more likely to increase racist sentiment.
Most people supporting the protestors seem to be going for the now frequently seen Martin Luther King, Jr quote, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
I am not sure how to end institutional racism. I do often wonder if a large percentage of this country really does like mass incarceration, the war on some people who use some drugs, and will be constantly blind to police abuse and brutality. I am fairly certain that rioting and destruction are going to make people think “You know, we need less police and we need to end the war on drugs.”
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
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