There's a pattern evident in left-wing and progressive propaganda. One article will appear, "sowing the seed" for a particular idea; then, within days (sometimes within hours) several more articles will appear, referencing the original idea, lauding it, and trying to popularize it. What's more, opposing ideas will be shouted down or "de-platformed" by the mainstream media. Within a couple of weeks, the idea will be viewed (at least in far-left-wing circles) as accepted wisdom, and any dissent will no longer be tolerated. It's become part of the progressive pablum.
That's evident in the drive to decriminalize looting, in both the legal and the moral sense, and make it an accepted part of demonstrations and protests. Several far-left-wing spokespersons and outlets are combining in a shared thrust to render it "normal", tolerable, and even praiseworthy. It's all a lie, of course, but that doesn't stop them trying to force the lie down our throats.
It ranges from official legal circles to individual activists. In the legal world, Politico has just published an article by "five Black, female prosecutors" who "offer 11 ideas for how to make their profession part of the solution" to "this flawed [legal] system". It doesn't mention looting per se, but includes it by implication in the legal reforms it advocates. The article starts with a lie in the very first sentence, and goes downhill from there.
Our criminal legal system was constructed to control Black people and people of color. Its injustices are not new but are deeply rooted in our country’s shameful history of slavery and legacy of racial violence. The system is acting exactly as it was intended to, and that is the problem.
We should know: We’re Black, we’re female, and we’re prosecutors. We work as the gatekeepers in this flawed system. And we have some ideas for how to fix it.
. . .
The decisions that prosecutors make can either work to rectify the inherent harms in the legal system or perpetuate them. Part of our responsibility, as elected public servants, is to be self-aware and recognize that we are part of the problem. It is our moral and ethical duty to start advancing racial equity-minded policies—and community advocates and voters should hold us accountable for doing so.
Thanks to smartphones and social media, we have seen just the tip of the iceberg of traumatic injustices that float between arrests and prison cells, and at times result in death. While we have worked tirelessly to address these disparities, we understand that they are long-standing, systemic problems that precede our tenures.
We ran for public office on progressive platforms to shrink the system and create a more equitable and just society.
. . .
We are beholden to the people who put their faith and trust in us every day to achieve safety and justice through measures that advance racial equity. And that means not just holding police officers accountable, but reimagining the entire criminal legal system—from police, to prosecutors, to judges—and from arrests to charging to sentencing. Each level of the legal system reflects a level of inherent bias, and unless we stop trying to reform the system and instead work to transform it, we will never achieve the kind of change needed to upend a system rooted in slavery.
Working from within, we have begun the steps to rectify past wrongs. We are implementing policies that include declining to prosecute minor offenses, overturning wrongful convictions, refusing to take cases from officers with a history of racial bias and expunging marijuana convictions. And we are currently working within our own offices to make the system fairer and more just.
. . .
We have decided to make the following 11 commitments, and we urge our fellow prosecutors to join us:
1. Do not prosecute peaceful protesters. Citizens have a right to protest, and prosecutions can antagonize marginalized communities ...
6. Expand our office policies on declining low-level offenses to cover decisions regarding charging and issuing warrants. By increasing our efforts to decline to prosecute certain low-level offenses, we can work to reverse the disproportionate impact the legal system has on Black people and low-income communities ...
10. Solicit feedback from Black and brown community groups we were elected to serve through public, virtual forums in the next two weeks. Only by listening to the most impacted communities and advocates and bringing them to the table, will we truly understand their greatest needs and biggest challenges. Then, we will work together to rectify them.
There's more at the link. You can read here how one of the authors is implementing such measures in her jurisdiction. Her guidelines include whether looting was committed for "personal need" rather than "financial gain". I'd love to know how prosecutors will figure that out - and how they'll justify their conclusions.
Notice how point 11 of the Politico article specifically references "public, virtual forums in the next two weeks". Funny how five progressive DA's around the country can come up with the same timeframe for their respective jurisdictions, isn't it? Coordination much? When you look at the rest of the pro-riot and pro-looting propaganda that's emerging simultaneously with their article, one sees the unmistakeable imprint of deliberate organization behind it all. I daresay the conclusions of those "public, virtual forums" will be almost identical, too. Funny how that works out, isn't it?
Let's move on to more specifically looting-related issues. Earlier this month, following massive looting of stores on Chicago's "Magnificent Mile", a Black Lives Matter organizer defended it.
A Chicago Black Lives Matter organizer defended the widespread weekend looting in the heart of the Windy City — as “reparation.”
“I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci’s or a Macy’s or a Nike because that makes sure that that person eats. That makes sure that that person has clothes,” Ariel Atkins said at a rally outside the South Loop police station Monday, local outlets reported.
“That’s a reparation,” Atkins said. “Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance.”
Again, more at the link.
Ms. Atkins clearly has no understanding whatsoever of business or economics. When organized looters pull up in rented U-Haul trucks to strip a store of its contents, that's not for them to eat or wear - it's to sell for their own criminal gain. She also clearly doesn't understand that when businesses have to pay drastically increased insurance premiums, they recover them by raising their prices, affecting everyone who buys from them. As for "reparations" - reparations for what? What have the owners of that store done to those looting it? Nothing at all, as far as I can tell - so no reparations are due. Even minority-owned businesses are looted or destroyed in such unrest, as we most recently saw in Kenosha, WI last week. Why should they "pay" reparations at all?
Now comes an effort to make looting acceptable in mainstream debate. Vicky Osterweil, described as "a writer, editor, and agitator", has published a book titled "In Defense of Looting".
In an interview with NPR, Ms. Osterweil speaks of riots and looting as if they were interchangeable concepts, and defends them from a perspective that might make even Marx himself blench.
[Looting] does a number of important things. It gets people what they need for free immediately, which means that they are capable of living and reproducing their lives without having to rely on jobs or a wage—which, during COVID times, is widely unreliable or, particularly in these communities is often not available, or it comes at great risk. That's looting's most basic tactical power as a political mode of action.
It also attacks the very way in which food and things are distributed. It attacks the idea of property, and it attacks the idea that in order for someone to have a roof over their head or have a meal ticket, they have to work for a boss, in order to buy things that people just like them somewhere else in the world had to make under the same conditions. It points to the way in which that's unjust. And the reason that the world is organized that way, obviously, is for the profit of the people who own the stores and the factories. So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.
Importantly, I think especially when it's in the context of a Black uprising like the one we're living through now, it also attacks the history of whiteness and white supremacy. The very basis of property in the U.S. is derived through whiteness and through Black oppression, through the history of slavery and settler domination of the country. Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police. It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that's a part of it that doesn't really get talked about—that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.
There's more at the link, although why anyone would want to read more of such drivel, I can't imagine. Certainly, initial reviews of her book at Amazon.com show that many readers share my opinion. For example:
- "I gave it 2 stars instead of 1 because while it is empty headed garbage, it was a bargain since I shoplifted it."
- "Since Amazon doesn't have a physical bookstore from which I can steal this book, will they please implement a virtual looting option?"
- "Buy only as a standby in case there's a TP crisis and you have literally nothing else. In fact, not even then. Because beware the potential for Osmosis of Stupidity through mucous membranes..."
Ms. Osterweil made a telling point in a 2014 article of the same name, which helps to explain her rather warped and twisted perspective.
Recently an Instagram video circulated of a Ferguson protester discussing the looting and burning of the QuikTrip convenience store. He retorts the all too common accusation thrown at rioters: “People wanna say we destroying our own neighborhoods. We don’t own nothing out here!” This is the crux of the matter, and could be said of most majority black neighborhoods in America, which have much higher concentrations of chain stores and fast food restaurants than non-black neighborhoods. The average per capita income in Ferguson, MO is less than $21,000, and that number almost certainly gets lower if you remove the 35% white population of Ferguson from the equation. How could the average Ferguson resident really say it’s “our QuikTrip”? Indeed, although you might hang out in it, how can a chain convenience store or corporate restaurant earnestly be part of anyone’s neighborhood? The same white liberals who inveigh against corporations for destroying local communities are aghast when rioters take their critique to its actual material conclusion.
It's telling because it equates the moral "ownership" (i.e. care for and of) of one's neighborhood with financial or physical ownership of the commercial assets in that neighborhood. That's nonsensical, of course. I don't own any of the stores I patronize in the town where I live; but I rely on them for the necessities of everyday life. If I destroyed them, where would I get those necessities? In that sense, all of us who patronize them have some degree of "ownership" by association, because we shop there. Making sure the stores stay open is good for our community; forcing them to close is very bad for it. As Victor Davis Hanson points out:
When you loot and burn a Target in an hour, it takes months to realize there are no more neighborhood Target-stocked groceries, toilet paper, and Advil to buy this winter.
You can in a night assault the police, spit at them, hope to infect them with the coronavirus, and even burn them alive. But when you call 911 in a few weeks after your car is vandalized, your wallet is stolen, and your spouse is violent, and no one comes, only then do you sense that you earlier were voting for a pre-civilized wilderness.
You can burn down a Burger King in half an hour. But it will take years to find anyone at Burger King, Inc., who would ever be dumb enough to rebuild atop the charred ruins—to prepare for the next round of arson in 2021 or 2023.
Today’s looter carrying off sneakers and smartphones in 10 years will be tomorrow’s urban activist, understandably but in vain demanding stores return to a charred no man’s land, to do their fair share, and to help restore the downtown, neighborhood, inner-city, or the “community.”
More at the link.
To say that because we don't actually own (as in "possess") local shops and the goods they sell, we have no stake in them, is patently ridiculous. We can easily "disown" them by taking our patronage somewhere else - but we don't. We're voting with our feet and our wallets.
Finally, some are already deploying the "moral" or "spiritual" argument that human lives (i.e. of looters) are more important than goods or property. In a moral (particularly a religious) sense, yes, they are: but then we have to look at the relevance of the goods or property to human life. Am I going to have to pay - in the form of increased insurance premiums, and/or higher prices, and/or rates and taxes for enhanced security - for the looting of that property and the theft of those goods? Will I have to travel further, at greater expense, to buy the things I need? In every case of looting of which I'm aware, the answer to all those questions is "Yes". Therefore, are the lives of thieves or looters worth more to me - in financial terms, if nothing else - than the goods and property they're taking or destroying? The answer is very clearly "No!"
That's in purely human terms, of course, not in terms of the Christian message, which values human life because we're "made in the image and likeness of God". However, we live in a post-Christian society, where (in the First World at least) the majority no longer consider themselves governed by Biblical or any other religious morality. Therefore, if business owners and/or patrons, operating from a secular perspective, decide that shooting looters is an acceptable way to minimize their losses, on what grounds are we to blame them? A few rounds of ammunition are certainly far more affordable than replacing a store's entire stock of goods for sale, or rebuilding the store itself. On purely economic and utilitarian grounds, the bullet wins every time.
My position is simple. "By their fruits you will know them." It's straight out of the Bible, and sums up the grounds on which all of our lives will be judged in due course. I know looters by their fruits - crime, dishonesty, damage to communities, loss to business owners, and disruption of civil society and law and order. That being the case, I have no problem with stopping looters by any means necessary, up to and including violence. It has nothing to do with politics, or race, or individual need (particularly because individual need can be, and is, met every day through organizations set up specifically to help those in need, such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, local churches, etc.).
The home-made billboards stuck up in storm-ravaged neighborhoods, that many of us have seen in news reports over the years, resonate with me.
I can't condemn the sentiment. Indeed, as regular readers will know, I've done something about contributing to neighborhood security in such an environment from time to time. I daresay I'll continue to do so - in riots as much as in bad weather.