After watching the city of Charlotte go up in flames this week, I took to Facebook with this:
“Let me be clear: rioters deserve to be arrested. They are illegitimate. They are criminals. They deserve no understanding or sympathy. They are evil. And these are not ‘violent protests.’ That gives them too much gravitas and dignity. What is happening in the streets of Charlotte, and what happened in my hometown of Baltimore, is urban crime. The legal term is ‘mayhem.’ Period.”
The point of that posting was to highlight the absolute idiocy in treating criminal activity as legitimate political protest. You might think that this is a self-evident truism, and because I am assuming that you have few or no mental defects, you would be absolutely justified in assuming that’s the case. But as I watched television, followed some online discussions and read some actual print newspapers in the wake of the destruction, it occurred to me that people with a political agenda and race-colored blinders will make excuses for even the most violent, aberrant behavior if it advances their goals.
One of my Facebook friends compared what is going on in Charlotte to the Boston Tea Party. That was highly creative, and the next time I have an opportunity to speak with the great revolutionary biographer David McCullough, I’ll ask him what sophisticated political impact a burning car and a looted electronics store could have on the policy concerns of those urban patriots. I’d also ask him who, among those engaged patriots in Charlotte, most closely resembles that eloquent orator Samuel Adams, and how the continued use of words beginning with “M” and “F” measure up to his standards of effective rhetoric.
Unfortunately, evolved liberals think property rights (like gun rights) are expendable and can be sacrificed in the service of some larger “good,” which, in this case, is the forced recognition that police officers are inherently racist, even the ones who happen to be black.
I’m not here to say that any of the killings that have happened over the past weeks are justified. I don’t know enough about these cases (and neither do you) to make an informed judgment about whether the police acted appropriately in those few seconds they had to make a life-or-death decision. In some of those cases, I would agree that there have been bad choices made by police officers who were poorly trained to deal with crisis situations. I would even go so far as to say that in some of those cases, preconceptions of how the suspect would act and bias born of generational racism has pulled the trigger instead of staying the hand.
If I denied that race was a factor in any of these killings, including the ones where both the shooter and the victim were the same color, I’d be guilty of the same thing I accuse those evolved liberals of harboring: a blind spot where race is concerned.
How could I argue that a black man is treated exactly the same as a white man when approached on a city street in the dark? I can’t. How could I argue that more black men are killed by other black men than by police officers? I can’t, because even though that is statistically true, it doesn’t respond to the precise question of why the interaction between police officers and young African American youth often ends in death.
I’m not insensitive to the anger, the frustration and the tears of mothers who have to educate their teenagers how to act so they can avoid becoming another statistic, the so-called “talk.” I will never have to have that “talk” with my nephew, who I love as much as any black woman loves her son, her grandson, her brother or her nephew.
But again, no amount of tears, anger, frustration or reverse bias against police officers justifies destroying a man’s livelihood, gives any legitimacy to screaming through the streets with expletives that those mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts would abhor, attacking the “system” by attacking its innocent members or making lame excuses that this is what you get when frustration boils over into action.
This isn’t action. This isn’t what the patriots did in Boston’s harbor. This isn’t even some highly-paid athlete having a constitutionally protected hissy fit on the sidelines.
This is criminal. And trying to dress it up as righteous disobedience is as obscene as the words coming out of those angry, southern mouths.
Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org