Opinion / Politics

Peaceful Protests v. Violent Riots – History Teaches that Dangers Lurk

historyUnpack the current moment, one eye on history.  We have a chance to heal, but serious dangers lurk.  Too often, in this land where we try to improve, to respect every individual, balance freedom and equality, keep government limited, and protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” we fall short.

When we fall short, sometimes terribly short, Americans get strangely self-focused, start self-healing.  Our society tends to recognize failings, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, and seek correction.  A portion of society speaks up, using First Amendment rights to assemble, petition, and seek redress.

There is something unique about Americans. Down to the individual level, we have a profound sense of fairness.  With that, we try to fix things that go wrong.  We hate seeing wrongs unremedied, as much as we appreciate things going right.  We hate injustice, feel empowered to find resolutions and restore fairness.  It is in our character.

Some will call me an idealist or ethnocentric, but what students of history know is that we have always been this way.  Americans are different, as a function of our history.  We are not of one cultural or ethnic background, not like Europe, Russia, China, Far East, Middle East, Africa or even South America. We are different – bound to one another by ideals – like freedom, justice, and equality.

That is why, when we see an injustice, we react.  Our society uses First Amendment freedoms to throw light on darkness, awaken the conscience of fellow citizens, educate as much as legislate, infusing society with new understanding about what needs to be fixed.  We are at that moment now.

To be clear, our country has witnessed tens of thousands of protests, a strength of our nation.  Captive peoples in Communist China do not have the right.  We do have the right – with it the power of self-correction.   Credit again to our Founders.

Historically, protests have – as our Founders knew they would – helped us weather grief, educate and modulate, raising fairness over unfairness, equal treatment over unequal, and assuring fundamental liberties are never encroached or stolen by an all-powerful government.

In the spirit of 1773’s Boston Tea Party, following horrors of the Civil War, American farmers organized across the country between 1870 and 1900.  Their goal was to remedy monopolistic pricing and restore moral compass. They did, leaving the Grange, Farmer’s Alliance, and Populist Party.  Their example returned in 1979, when 3000 tractors descended on Washington DC – to halt farm foreclosures.

Likewise, the Women’s Suffrage “Procession” in 1913 was the first on Washington’s Mall, to be followed by others, including the Civil Rights March of 1963 with Martin Luther King, anti-Vietnam War protests in 1969, and so-called anti-nuclear and nuclear freeze marches during the 1980s.

Closer to our time, the Black community assembled a “Million Man March” in 1995 when Bill Clinton was in the White House, followed in 1997 by a “Million Woman March.”  Rallies against the Iraq War occurred in 2003, followed by a pro-abortion march in 2004, when George W. Bush was president.  The anti-abortion “March for Life” has filled the Mall annually since 1974.

All this leads to – now.  On the positive side, members of our society recoil at the racist, fundamentally cruel killing of a Black man by a police officer, as three others failed to intercede.  The video is searing. The death of George Floyd is an inflection point.  The First Amendment is being used.  It allows us to focus, become more introspective, and start self-healing.

But three dangers lurk.  The first – which afflicted protests in the 1970s – is that this effort at self-healing, addressing persistent inequalities, will be hijacked by violence.  Violent forces are afoot with no respect for democracy, no interest in peaceful resolution. They see the First Amendment as a weakness, chink in our armor, chance to promote anarchy and radical socialism – with violence.

That danger is made more acute by ignorance.  If we pretend that well-coordinated, pre-planned violence, spanning dozens of cities, is the same as a peaceful protest, we make a double mistake.  We miss the chance to have peaceful discussions producing positive change and self-healing.  Worse, we give the radical left – seeking to disrupt democracy – a chance.  Antifa mirrors the Weather Underground of the 1970s.  We cannot forget that.

The second danger lurks in mass turnouts.  In crowds, people become anonymous, often showing less personal responsibility.  Local police, currently backed by the National Guard, are important.  Mob violence – even without Antifa – can be destructive.  A combination of opportunism, unchecked anger, and greed has already done $400 million of damage, to which one can add burglaries, assaults, and deaths, shootings in Minnesota, California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and other states.

This brings me to the third danger – misunderstanding the role, temperament, training, and inherent value of men and women in blue, American law enforcement. The overwhelming majority of law enforcement is respectful of individual liberties, acutely aware of legal and moral imperatives, honors “equal protection,” and pursues justice with care.

Data lags, but police made 62.9 million public contacts in one recent year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. They were “equally likely to initiate contact with blacks and whites.” One-in-eight adults, or 31.4 million Americans, called on police for assistance, with 85 percent satisfaction and no statistical difference between Blacks, Whites and Hispanics.  Nine-in-ten were willing to call again.

Finally, deterrence is a cornerstone of law enforcement.  Washington DC has 706,000 residents, only 3800 officers – a ratio of one to 144.  Los Angeles has four million residents, 9000 officers, a ratio of one to 444.  Cutting their numbers or support would be senseless – and dangerous.

In short, America is a nation premised on mutual respect, limited government, individual liberties, and the promise of equal protection.  We must keep striving for those ideals.  Our Constitution encourages peaceful self-healing.  The First Amendment makes that possible. Danger lurks in not healing, but also in misunderstanding the value of cohesion and law enforcement. History teaches that we must pull together – or we will surely be pulled apart.

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Rhonda
1 year ago

I think we have lost it all, limited government, free speech, right to bear arms, a means of discussion between opposing views, respect for authority, including police officers, most of which are good men and women doing a job etc., etc. I don’t see how we can go back from here. The socialists/communists/globalists seem to have thrown us into the chaos required in the communist playbook to destroy our history and our rights and propel us into a nightmare of complete global government control of every aspect of our lives. Too bad our children have not been trained in our American history, world history, and the importance of individual rights which once lost cannot be recovered. Too bad they were not taught the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and how meaningful they are in protecting our rights and our American way of life. All I can say is be prepared for what is coming, and woefully, already here.

Ron Newell
1 year ago

A very reasoned and balanced report that ought to be read by all Americans. Extremism is dangerous while dissent is necessary. To keep protests at a nonviolent level requires law enforcement. The majority of Americans can police themselves. But law enforcement is needed to safeguard us against those who wish anarchy to reign, or simply wish to commit crimes. We are a nation laws, not a nation of anarchists or totalitarians. Let’s keep it that way.

chaly
1 year ago

I tell ya what, with all of the AK-47’s supposedly laying around every home in your neighborhood we need to use them on the evil destroyers of our democracy. BLM, B.S., these people do the same thing in their own neighborhood. Look at Wash D.C., NY city, and Seattle, Minneapolis and all the rest of the places where average citizens’ happen to live and this group of scum can come in and destroy everything YOU have built. They have lost my support NOW!!! They deserve no more support from me or you!

Pat R
1 year ago

The fact the ‘instigators’ were bused or flown in to DC from as far as Arizona, and other cities, gives a huge clue about motive. And those instigators took advantage of peoples’ emotions & got some to join their destruction & looting, making it look like it was all protestors. BUT the supply of bricks, rocks, and even Molotov cocktails hidden in bushes of places marches were planned shows there was a whole different agenda in play. Their travel, supplies, and personal necessities for trip/stay were well planned and paid for, even bail when arrested. BUT, they didn’t go unnoticed by law enforcement on the Federal level.

Did anyone else find it odd that in the middle of all the looting and even assaults & murder, that 3 days ago (June 10th) Bezos, aka Amazon, put a moratorium/suspension on police use of his facial recognition software (Rekognition) for a year? Hmmmm….

Diane Watson
1 year ago

Much of what is happening has the flavor of the Weather Underground, but there are shades of the Black Panthers. I think a violent Islamic presence or Sikh presence, which is under the “banner” of Islam is also there. To go further would be folly as the dual forces of Communist China and Russia were just starting to surface when former President Nixon went to Communist China with Henry Kissinger. You figure out what to conclude, We did change the money standard again at the time.

Blanca I
1 year ago

The thinking of living in anarchy scares me. I support our police force, think of the old saying “one bad apple does not spoil the whole bunch”. We need the police and I support them.

Pam
1 year ago

I disagree with the statement that the death of George Floyd was racist. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. You cannot make the claim that all altercations between people with different skin colors has racism as it’s root.

Blanca I
1 year ago
Reply to  Pam

I agree with you, now the liberal media uses the term racism to push their liberal agenda.

Patriot Will
1 year ago

Traditional America is basically good. When certain interest groups hold themselves to be more important than the citizens as a whole, then we often become irrational and even violent. Those who are very quick to protest have a right to protest. However, if the protesters forget to think about the rights of all Americans, there is a danger of haters and criminals to pollute the environment to the point where so-called peaceful protests become violent mob actions of fighting, stealing, burning and even killing. As soon as individuals forget about mutual respect and open communication, perfectly acceptable behavior can quickly devolve into cruel barbarism. One should never forget one’s responsibilities to civil order, even if thugs and punks do their best to undermine the basic behaviors of civilized humans. Protest or no protest, inner calm and goodness should always be present. The USA is too good a country to be coldly destroyed by those who have only their own interests at heart,

Kim
1 year ago

I don’t know ANYONE who would have condoned the actions of the police officers who killed George Floyd. The moment an “alleged perpetrator” has been subdued, there no longer is any need for brute force. Whether he had a rap sheet as long as my arm or was the PTA vice president, all suspects deserve to be treated fairly, equally, and never to the point where their lives are at risk. The United States prides itself on the tenets of rule of law, although sometimes those values are challenged.

This happens rarely in this country, but when it does, the media are all over it. And so are the anarchists and the opportunists looking to set vehicles afire, vandalize retail districts, and loot businesses that might very well have minority owners and employees. Apparently, those “Black Lives Matter Not” to these thugs.

The First Amendment guarantees our right to peacefully assemble to air grievances. Millions of us did this a decade ago, during the Tea Party movement. But many of those gathering in the wake of police brutality have more than peaceful protest on their minds. Peaceful protests serve to enlighten the public, and elicit solutions to some of society’s enduring problems through healthy debate. When they descend to the level of the most shameful human instinct, law enforcement should be there to stop it. Every one of the looters, and the organizers behind them, should be found and subjected to the rule of law.

Unfortunately, there are cities and towns whose council members are now voting to defund appropriations for materials that police officers use to quell violent public unrest. Milwaukee, I believe, seeks to completely do away with its police force! This is another step toward total anarchy, where those roaming the streets creating havoc everywhere they go should be behind bars for a long, long time. The great majority of us will be the ones suffering if this comes to pass. It’s amazing to me that this topsy-turvy power structure is under consideration at all. Good grief!

PaulE
1 year ago
Reply to  Kim

Very well said Kim. The media of course sees those rioting as a means to push the country farther and farther left. To enact policies no sane and rational person would advocate for. To the media, the rioters are national heroes and anyone opposing them is the enemy to be branded racist no matter what.

What I find disturbing in all this is that the “great majority” that you speak of are simply sitting back while the police are ordered to stand down in dozens of cities by either their Democrat Mayors or Governors. All while the local Mayors and their equally Democrat majority city council members all talk about and then actually move towards either radically scaling back the police or out-right disbanding them. The so-called “great majority” may see the obvious lunacy and threat of such actions, but it appears they are content, at least for now or until it is too late to stop these players and their actions, to simply sit back and allow the left to enact such policies virtually unopposed. Good grief indeed!

Kim
1 year ago
Reply to  PaulE

Thanks, PaulE.
I wrote to our dem governor recently about losing the RNC’s convention and the $150,000,000 in revenues that would have been pumped into local businesses that desperately need it. I don’t recall if I mentioned these mob “protests”, so I will fire off another letter. As an aside, I found it amusing that under the email address box, a warning appeared, stating, essentially, that any comments of questionable nature will be turned over to local authorities. “Who you gonna call?” Our city voted to partially defund the police.

Unfortunately, that probably isn’t good enough. What we need to do is to gather with signs, a la Tea Party MO, and march into the downtowns in support of police departments and in opposition to these lunatics. Only great numbers of us will make any difference. The media always underestimated the size of the crowds by a factor of 10. Of course, voting out the idiots (all dems, here) is better.

PaulE
1 year ago
Reply to  Kim

You are correct. Weiting to letters to the Governor or Mayor doesn’t get the same attention from politicians as a large show of peaceful protest from the law abiding citizens. Only massive public protests from our side to this lunacy of partially de-funding or outright eliminating the police will convince some of these politicians to back away from this course of action. I’ve suggested the same thing up here to several people and they all “don’t want to get involved”. The same mentality that has allowed things to continue to fester for decades in this country. Apathy until it is too late to change things. So I asked them who do you plan to call the next time there is a robbery, assault or anything else if there are no more cops? The county social worker? The state commissioner on diversity? All I get back is blank stares as they try to grasp what the world would look like. Most people living in Democrat run cities and states either can’t defend themselves or don’t have the mindset to do so. Yet a lot of folks seem willing to just sit by and do nothing to prevent what will be a very bad outcome. I hope at least most of these people have enough brains to vote correctly in November. Even that I fear may be asking too much from some.

Lex Parker Jr
1 year ago
Reply to  Kim

Love will Ultimately prevail and win the hearts and minds. Love your enemies.

Kim
1 year ago
Reply to  Lex Parker Jr

I’m not sure I could love them, Lex Parker Jr. But I certainly want to see them come to justice, and I do believe that people can redeem themselves.

Pat R
1 year ago
Reply to  Lex Parker Jr

Loving them doesn’t mean love their behavior and we do nothing to stop the destruction, etc., by advocating for and encouraging our police. I loved my children like crazy, but when they misbehaved, they were confronted and punished.

Judy Green
1 year ago

It is beyond disgusting to see the entire country lauding a career criminal and outright scumbag!!!! When a soldier dies, the family gets a flag! This POS gets how many memorials now? A gold casket and a horse-drawn carriage??? WHAT A FARCE!!!! When people act like thugs, they deserve to be treated as thugs! And THAT was what George Floyd was – a THUG!!!! No, I am not saying he deserved to die but, in reality, his death came primarily by his own hand. Yes, the cop shouldn’t have put his knee on his neck that way and yes, it did CONTRIBUTE to his death. But never forget that he was hopped up on meth and fentanyl and had drugs on his person at the time they handcuffed him! THIS IS A TRAVESTY!!!! He had a very long criminal history and it disgusts me that literally EVERYONE is completely ignoring this!!!!

Patriot Will
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Green

Judy Green, the mainstream media is very much at fault for elevating thugs. The socialists and communists focus on their propaganda and politics. True news is often ignored or distorted. True values of honesty and honor are often replaced with lies and deceit. Privately, most Americans still want good heroes, not miscreants and criminals.

Blanca I
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Green

Right on thanks for speaking the truth!

Michael W.
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Green

Gosh Judy, finally someone sees this situation the same way I do. Did George Floyd deserve the treatment that he did, and did he deserve to die? Absolutely NOT. No one does. However, the question I want to see someone answer is that if he had not tried to buy cigarettes with a fake $20 bill, would he even have been arrested, and would any of these protests take place? That is the elephant in the room that no one cares to discuss. The national news media and everyone else is making this guy out to be some sort of saint. Saint he ain’t. I think it is just another tool of Soros and the Dimocrats to try to win the election. Russia collusion didn’t work. Impeachment didn’t work. They couldn’t run on the economy because it was booming under Trump. Trump getting black unemployment down. The Dems realize that if they lose the black vote they lose the election, so they had to put out a double whammy to hurt Trump in the only way possible – the CoronaVirus took down the economy and the Floyd incident galvanized the black vote. I would not be surprised in the least if the Dems were not in cahoots with the Chinese and this BLM nonsense to take down Trump. Dems care about one thing and one thing only – power. And they will do whatever it takes, no matter how unlawful, to get it. Vote GOP in November. Sraight Republican ticket. If the Dems win, start stockpiling ammo, while we still can. If we can’t win at the ballot box, perhaps we can win at the ammo box.

Joanned
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Green

This is true, the facts are that George Floyd was not an upstanding nor

Joanned
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Green

Facts are, George Floyd was not an outstanding, honest law abiding citizen He is being wrongfully idolized ?

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