Blog See all Articles

Looting: Legitimate Political Protest?

/

Capital Research Center senior editor Matthew Vadum has a timely column at FrontPageMag today:

 

Looting: Legitimate Political Protest?

By Matthew Vadum

Looting is a great way to advance the increasingly violent, racist Black Lives Matter movement, an agitator is teaching students after being rewarded by the Left with a teaching gig at prestigious Yale University.

The words of Twitter star Deray Mckesson expose for the umpteenth time the lie that Black Lives Matter, whose members idolize unrepentant cop killers Mumia abu Jamal and Assata Shakur, is a law-abiding, peaceful movement and that those who loot and riot in its name are a fringe or unrelated element. Lawless violence and bloody insurrection are how Mckesson and his followers pursue their vision of so-called social justice.

Mckesson led a class that was discussing, “In Defense of Looting,” an essay by Willie Osterweil whose bio at the New Inquiry website describes him as “a writer, editor, and member of the punk band Vulture Shit.”

Johnetta Elzie (who calls herself ShordeeDooWhop on Twitter and uses the handle @Nettaaaaaaaa), who with Mckesson helped foment unrest in Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and other racial hotspots, live-tweeted the Oct. 3 lecture. The tweets suggest the talk was a mixture of black liberation theology, critical race theory, Marxism, and anarchism:

“‘It is interesting this connection between capitalism and racism[.]'”

“‘To not give, is to steal from the poor[.]'”

“‘If you put me in a cage you’re damn right I’m going to break some glass[.]'”

“‘Looting for me isn’t violent, it’s an expression of anger[.]'”

“‘[T]he act of looting is political. [A]nother way to dissolve consent. [P]ressing you to no longer keep me out of this space, by destroying it[.]'”

Osterweil’s pro-looting essay from 2014 is also instructive. He argues that stealing other people’s stuff in times of civil unrest is a “righteous” thing to do.

For most of America’s history, one of the most righteous anti-white supremacist tactics available was looting.

As protests in Ferguson continued unabated one week after the police killing of Michael Brown, Jr., zones of Twitter and the left media predominantly sympathetic to the protesters began angrily criticizing looters. Some claimed that white protesters were the ones doing all of the looting and property destruction, while others worried about the stereotypical and damaging media representation that would emerge. It also seems that there were as many protesters (if not more) in the streets of Ferguson working to prevent looting as there were people going about it. While I disagree with this tactic, I understand that they acted out of care for the struggle, and I want to honor all the brave and inspiring actions they’ve taken over the last weeks.

Radicals who discourage looting in order to protect their leadership positions, “dampen resistance,” and take the ethical high road are misguided, Osterweil writes.

It is in solidarity with these latter protesters–along with those who loot–and against politicians and de-escalators everywhere that I offer this critique, as a way of invigorating discussion amongst those engaged in anti-oppression struggle, in Ferguson and anywhere else the police violently perpetuate white supremacy and settler colonialism. In other words, anywhere in America.

Some “want to correct the media’s assertion that protesters were all looters for good reason: the idea of black people looting a store is one of the most racially charged images in the white imaginary [sic].”

He continues:

When protesters proclaim that “not all protesters were looters, in fact, most of the looters weren’t part of the protest!” or words to that effect, they are trying to fight a horrifically racist history of black people depicted in American culture as robbers and thieves: Precisely the image that the Ferguson police tried to evoke to assassinate Michael Brown’s character and justify his killing post facto. It is a completely righteous and understandable position.

Osterweil opines that the civil rights movement “won many battles” but “it lost the war.”

Regurgitating tired old communist agitprop, Osterweil writes the proof that the Sixties movement lost the war is:

[m]ass incarceration, the fact that black wealth and black-white inequality are at the same place they were at the start of the civil rights movement, that many US cities are more segregated now than they were in the sixties: no matter what “colorblind” liberals would say, racial justice has not been won, white supremacy has not been overturned, racism is not over. In fact, anti-black racism remains the foundational organizing principle of this country. That is because this country is built on the right to property, and there is no property, no wealth in the USA without the exploitation, appropriation, murder, and enslavement of black people.

Here Osterweil embraces the same line of reasoning adopted by small-c communist academic and community organizer Richard Cloward, co-originator of the infamous Cloward-Piven Strategy of orchestrated chaos that President Obama has been pursuing since his first day in office. The professor said poor people always need to be ready to seize unearned wealth. “Our strategy always was, grab what you can and run like hell,” Cloward said. Private property is unjust so take what you want.

Sounding like Rules for Radical author Saul Alinsky, Osterweil posits that looting is good for the cause:

On a less abstract level there is a practical and tactical benefit to looting. Whenever people worry about looting, there is an implicit sense that the looter must necessarily be acting selfishly, “opportunistically,” and in excess. But why is it bad to grab an opportunity to improve well-being, to make life better, easier, or more comfortable? Or, as Hannah Black put it on Twitter: “Cops exist so people can’t loot [i.e.] have nice things for free so [I don’t know] why it’s so confusing that people loot when they protest[.]”

DeRay Mckesson and his comrade Johnetta Elzie think the same but they try to pretend they oppose the use of violence for political ends.

Both of these community organizers bounce between reverence for nonviolent action and a refusal to condemn violent activism, which reasonable people see as being tantamount to endorsing violent activism. This practiced ambiguity is a fairly standard left-wing cop-out like the claim by left-wingers during the Iraq War that they opposed the war but still supported U.S. troops.

Confronted by Wolf Blitzer on CNN earlier this year, Mckesson shrugged off the violent, criminal acts committed by Black Lives Matter supporters.

I think that the unrest, the uprising, whatever you call it, is again a cry for justice here and a cry for justice across the country because police continue to terrorize people. The terrorizing is actually deadly. Broken windows are not broken spines. People are in pain.

This lack of respect for the rule of law, property rights, and economic freedom is growing in American culture. Some militant blacks want to overthrow the U.S. Constitution.

Black Lives Matter leader Blake Simons wrote an article last month warning that “there will be bullets” if the U.S. doesn’t get a new national constitution soon.

Simons, a Farrakhan supporter and student at the University of California at Berkeley, takes the bigoted view that the current U.S. Constitution can never serve the interests of black Americans because it was written by white men.

“Our Black Lives Matter protests have stormed the country, yet cops continue to kill us daily, and the judicial system continues to justify our deaths with acquittals, non-indictments, and light sentences — all in the name of upholding the Constitution.”

After months of demonstrating, Simons says he came “to realize that the Constitution is the root of virtually all our problems in America.”

“The U.S. is a country that was founded on slavery, genocide, rape, and white male patriarchy,” Simons said, echoing Osterweil and small-c communist Bernie Sanders who claims the U.S. was founded on “racist principles.”

“The colonizers that we condemn for enslaving Afrikans [sic] and murdering indigenous peoples are the same people that produced and upheld the document we use to govern our nation to this day,” Simons continued. “Our bloodshed is rooted in this nation’s founding document, The Constitution.”

This insurrectionist hostility to the rule of law runs deep through the groves of academe.

Shoplifting at Wal-Mart and Target shouldn’t be prosecuted, according to Everett D. Mitchell of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mitchell, a black man, is the school’s community relations director, and a pastor and a lawyer.

“I just don’t think they should be prosecuting cases for people who steal from Wal-Mart. I don’t think that,” Mitchell said at a “Best Policing Practices” panel discussion. “I don’t think that Target, and all them other places – the big boxes that have insurance – they should be using the people that steal from there as justification to start engaging in aggressive police behavior.”

To anarchists and communists, enforcing the law in a market-oriented society is itself aggressive police behavior.

Before that University of Wisconsin professors Karma Chàvez and Sara L. McKinnon wrote a letter to the editor of a Wisconsin media outlet that was assigned the headline “Request for no police interaction is reasonable.” They argued that police constitute an occupying force and have no legitimate reason to patrol certain neighborhoods.

The academics echoed small-c communist lawyer William Kunstler who infamously opined that the police constitute “an army of occupation” in American cities.

Johnny Mandracchia, an Occupy Wall Street activist and self-described anarcho-syndicalist, said previously that smashing the windows of a Starbucks coffee shop doesn’t count as violence “because Starbucks isn’t a private business – it’s a corporation.” Anarchists, of course, believe property by definition is theft.

Reports of Mckesson’s Ivy League adventures surfaced last week while organizers were preparing for Nation of Islam’s twentieth anniversary so-called Million Man March that took place Saturday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Thousands of attendees from across the fruited plain willingly subjected themselves to whiny speeches by militant black influencers like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. These people blame society, white people, Jews, Republicans, capitalism, the Constitution, and various villainsdu jour for whatever troubles the black community is experiencing at the moment.

Farrakhan, who openly advocates the mass murder of whites, mischaracterized the increasingly violent Black Lives Matter movement as a rising civil rights movement.

“These are not just young people who happened to wake up one morning,” said the agitator. “Ferguson [Missouri where Michael Brown was killed] ignited it all. So all of the brothers and sisters from Ferguson, all the brothers and sisters that laid in the streets, all of the brothers and sisters that challenged the tanks, we are honored that you have come to represent our struggle and our demand.”

A Native Indian woman at the microphone chanted “down, down, USA” and held up a tee shirt promoting “Black Power” while urging President Obama to pardon convicted cop killer Leonard Peltier. Wright, Obama’s longtime pastor, urged blacks to stand against Israel. Young people in riot-torn Ferguson and “in Palestine” have “united” against the Jewish state and blacks should join them. “Remember, Jesus was a Palestinian,” he claimed. Notably absent from the lineup were the Revs. Jesse Jackson Sr. and Al Sharpton, perhaps because they don’t routinely publicly call for the slaughter of Caucasians and Jews.

President Obama, who attended the original march in 1995, was far away in California rubbing elbows at high-dollar fundraisers with celebrities Jamie Foxx, Kate Hudson, and J.J. Abrams. On Thursday he extended his best wishes to the thousands of angry racists before leaving town. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said of the march, “all of those who are advocating for progress on a range of social and economic justice issues will be articulating values that the president supports.”

At one of the four fundraising events on the Left Coast, the president mocked his critics. “There’s almost no measure by which we’re not better off than when I took office and when we started this process for change,” he said. “But it does kind of make you wonder. Why are so many Republican politicians so down on America? Why are they so grumpy?”

The theme of the march in Washington was “Justice or else,” an implied threat of civil unrest and a variation of “No justice. No peace,” the motto of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. “No justice. No peace,” is also the cry of rioters and looters, popularized during the deadly Los Angeles riots of 1992 that followed the acquittal of police officers who beat drunk-driving felon Rodney King, a black man. King was apprehended after a high speed chase. He later admitted he didn’t want to pull over for police because a drunk driving charge would have been a violation of his parole for a past robbery conviction.

U.S. Capitol Police had warned last week that Nation of Islam’s participation in the march increased the likelihood of violence at the event because Farrakhan, “has been accused of inciting violence against both Caucasians and police officers.” It added that “given today’s negative racial climate and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement,” the march “may not be as peaceful” as the original 1995 march.

But political correctness forced the department to apologize to the aggressively racist, anti-Semitic black Muslim group for unfairly maligning it by making demonstrably true statements about it. A Washington Post article headlined “Capitol Police e-mail raises alert, tension ahead of Million Man rally,” blamed, police, not Farrakhan and his people, for elevated tensions.

So not only do the powers that be refuse to acknowledge the dangers posed by extremist groups like Nation of Islam — which even the ultra-PC fringe-left paranoids of the Southern Poverty Law Center list as a “black separatist” organized hate group — it is now an act of cultural heresy in America to speak the truth about Farrakhan and his disciples.

This is happening at the same time as Black Lives Matter subversives are trying to convince Americans that maliciously destroying private property shouldn’t be a crime and that looting is a perfectly legitimate form of political expression.