The riots: Some complicated truths

The following is from the Moon of Alabama blog.

It’s true that people engaged in peaceful protests.

It’s true that people engaged in lawless looting.

It’s true that provocateurs have committed acts of vandalism and sometimes carry umbrellas.

It’s true that Antifa exists and that they don’t advocate gently placing flowers in the gaping hole of a long gun.  [snip]

It’s true looters come in all shades and sizes.

It’s true some desperate people are taking things they need.

It’s true some opportunistic people are taking things they want.

It’s true opportunistic government thugs suddenly shifted the Covid-19 rationale for using contract tracing to a catch-them-rioters rationale for using contract tracing.

It’s true the policy infrastructure for enacting martial law has been a long-term, bi-partisan project.

It’s true that now is the time to realize what’s at stake, but instead of acting collectively for our mutual benefit, the cognitive challenge of accepting that all these things can be true at the same time will keep us tied to one of these things to the exclusion of all the others.

Source: Moon of Alabama

Here are my additions to the list of complicated truths.

Policing is necessary.  Policing is stressful.  Some police officers risk their lives in order to avoid killing.  Some police killings are justified and unavoidable.  Not all victims of unjustified killings are black.  Not all unjustified killings are done by whites.

American police have become increasingly militarized during the past few decades.  This has been promoted by the federal government under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

If you are a middle-class white person living in a suburb, chances are the police will serve and protect you.  If you are a poor black person living in a big city, chances are the police will harass you on a daily basis.

There is great variation in the number of police killings in big American cities.  Professional standards and training in good practice is correlated with fewer killings.  Lack of personal accountability is correlated with more killings.  Diversity training, as it is now, makes little difference.

During the current riots, it was safer to be a vandal or looter than it was to be a peaceful protester or journalist.

Owners of mom-and-pop businesses in big cities, many of whom are immigrants and/or people of color, are not responsible for American racism and economic exploitation.

When the police cannot protect law-abiding citizens, they will arm themselves and band together to protect themselves, if necessary in unlawful ways.

Poor people, black people and especially poor black people are exploited and discriminated against in many ways that do not originate with the police.

These are complicated truths that I see.  What complicated truths do you see?


It’s true… by lizard for Moon of Alabama.

Police Use of Force Project.  Policies and practices that reduce police killings.

Campaign Zero: Research on How to Stop Police Violence.

Where Did Policing Go Wrong? by Matt Taibbi.

Rochester NY protest aftermath: What we know about vandalism, looting by Justin Murphy for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The Bleat by James Lileks. [Added 6/3/2020]

Tags: , ,

6 Responses to “The riots: Some complicated truths”

  1. williambearcat Says:

    The unwillingness to agree on basic facts, that there are
    verifiable truths means we can’t participate in discussion’s or debates.


  2. Vincent Says:

    I don’t know whether to be astonished or unsurprised that nobody, from the President down, has insisted on an urgent review of “institutional racism” in your police forces.

    Google recognizes the phrase mainly as referring to the public murder of a black teenager in 1993 which was not followed up adequately by the police, as written up here on Wikipedia.

    The events were nowhere as egregious as the recent case of George Floyd, nor were there major riots in protest.

    Gradually the problem was recognized, acknowledged and fixed.

    I cannot see how American citizens can ever forget or forgive, whether black or proper-thinking whites, unless these same three stages are undertaken in your country.

    In the meantime, it’s hard or impossible to respect America.

    The British Government and other influential voices will be unable to condemn your government for this, as we are unfortunately dependent on the US for trade deals after having foolishly pursued Brexit.

    To me this is more tragic than any effects of the pandemic.


  3. philebersole Says:

    Hello, Vincent. Your second link doesn’t work any better than the first one.


  4. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    I had a long discussion with my daughter about this. She is 31 and lives near Sacramento and participated in some peaceful protests there. She said there was a few right-wing provocateurs to deal with. I could imagine exactly the same conversation taking place between a progressive parent and their child in 1967. (A reactionary parent would never have allowed the conversation.)

    Every generation thinks they will be the generation to change everything. “We’ve waited too long for things to change!” Actually, “they” just arrived on the scene and haven’t waited at all. Energy is a *good* thing but there are those who would take advantage of it for nefarious purposes. Too much energy and a clever manipulator can produce a terrorist.

    I am an old fart. To my perspective, things have changed quite dramatically. I look back at my teens, my 20s and every other decade in my life. For example… early in my life a black man and white woman as a romantic couple would end in the black man being lynched and the white woman a social pariah. Today, I suggest watching some commercial television. How many interracial couples do you see? Especially in the commercials.) How many blockbuster movies with astonishing box office had black leads? That is an enormous amount of progress.

    We have blacks elected as US Senators, governors, and big city mayors. Even a former President. They’ve been appointed Chairman of the Joint Cheifs, Secretary of State, other cabinet offices, National Security Advisor, Supreme Court justices. I remember as a child when there was not one single black in any high office in the land. So, with the perspective of time, I see huge amounts of progress with more to come.

    Young people cannot be bothered with history and they don’t have the perspective of age. And being young, they cannot wait. So the notion that human hearts only change evolutionarily and not revolutionarily just feels unacceptable.

    If a generation was ever in a position to change the world, it was the baby boomers. Me and you. We were affluent, we were numerous, technology had loosened religion’s stranglehold over culture, and we were galvanized by being drafted into a war many times bloodier than our recent adventure in Iraq. Martin Luther King was the greatest civil rights leader of the century.

    As we got older we realized that putting flowers in rifle barrels changed nothing and neither did burning down buildings. So we went about the business of trying to raise families, live in reasonable comfort, and become old farts in our own turn. And though our generation was numerous, the progressive subgroup of our generation was not. The news coverage just made it seem so.

    Only a small percentage of adults change their attitudes over their lifetimes and pressuring them slows even that process. Most offspring become carbon copies of their parents, once beyond their rebellious stage. That’s why real, lasting change is slow.

    Decades later we hadn’t ushered in the age of Aquarius. Instead, we elected Donald Trump, arguably the worst and most reactionary president of the century. And put in a Democrat opposition that only takes advantage of a desire for social change to gain power and keep the true believers stirred up. Without the fractures in society to keep them in power, neither party could long exist in their present states.

    Progress in changing the human heart will always be glacial. Much more needs to happen and even then, the world is NOT perfectible. Still, we are in a much batter place than when I was a kid in the 60s.


    • williambearcat Says:

      As an old fart who only observed the protests of the 60s, I remember when the public swimming pool in my hometown and the subsequent establishment of ” membership” pools was the white response. We have made progress. It’s damn slow.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Vincent Says:

    WordPress doesn’t process links in comments, it seems. I’ve found a workaround but won’t use it. Not appropriate for a commenter to introduce them. Please feel free to delete this whole thread


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: