Bread, circus and looting in Baltimore (column)
On Your Right
“I’m not calling these people rioters… The city is burning because the police killed Freddie Gray.” – Mark Lamont Hill, professor, Moorehouse College
“We love these youths (who attack police).” – Lawyer Malik Shabazz
“I burnin’ (expletive) to get the (expletive) oppressor’s (expletive) foot off my (expletive) neck…” – unidentified rioter interviewed by TV reporter on May 1.
“… the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things: Bread and Games!” – Juvenal, Satire Ten
These days, we are treated to games enough to sate the most voracious of publics. The latest iteration is Baltimore where on April 19, petty criminal Freddie Gray died while in police custody. After five days of peaceful protests, Saturday April 25 erupted in an orgy of burning, looting and violence against police. The situation was not improved when Baltimore’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave the police a “stand down” order and explained that she wanted to “…give the people who want to destroy things space to do that….it’s only property…” More than 150 businesses were smashed that night and the following Monday, including a CVS pharmacy which was the largest employer in its neighborhood.
The usual flock of apologists and guiltmongers appeared. The riots were an expression of hopelessness. Of joblessness. Of anger with “the man,” or alternatively, “the oppressors.” In Baltimore, as in Ferguson, this narrative is as false as the “Hands up, don’t shoot” lie or the “Black lives matter” meme that have been effectively used to roil the country with racial hatred over the past months. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, on average 136 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in each of the past five years, while an average of 96 black suspects are killed by white police officers each year–according to FBI statistics. Too many, but hardly the carnage some would have us believe.
Additionally, Mayor Rawlings-Blake is black. So is Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore State’s Attorney, about whom more later. And Anthony Batts, Baltimore’s Police Commissioner. And a majority of Baltimore’s city council, and their congressional representative. To paraphrase Pogo’s famous aphorism, Baltimore’s rioters might well admit “We have met the oppressor, and he is us.”
The media is doing its dutiful bit. Ta-Nehisi Coates explained away the riots in last week’s Atlantic magazine as a “legitimate outlet for frustration.” They are not. They express instead the sheer nihilistic joy of wrecking, divorced from any demand for satisfaction of grievances. If one bemoans the lack of jobs in Baltimore, how does one think that burning and looting those braving the rough conditions there will improve opportunities? If previous episodes of similar destruction are any guide, it will be years before jobs return. In a fit of juvenile rage, black residents of Baltimore took aim at “the man” and shot themselves in the foot. Or worse.
These events are the logical result of longstanding social-welfare policies encouraging absentee fathers and mothers married to, and dependent on, government. Of a lack, not of educational opportunity, but of perceived need for education; of socialization into a vicious and unproductive subculture whose anthem is “Cop Killer,” whose motto is “Thug 4 Life,” whose banner is the black flag of anarchy and whose watchword is “stop snitchin’.”
Who is responsible? Government is. Those who advocate ever more money for ever larger programs without bothering to check the results are its enablers, and taxpayers are its accomplices. Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” spent $22 trillion of our money, and poverty won. It’s enough. But that’s not all.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby was quick to indict the biracial group of officers involved in Mr. Gray’s arrest and transportation. Citing evidence she didn’t produce, she threw the book at these men and woman. During her announcement she twice told rioters that she “heard your cry of ‘No justice, no peace’,” and said that she was producing “justice.” She was not.
Ms. Mosby’s speech was shrewdly not political enough to trigger her replacement by a special prosecutor, but enough to obtain a change of venue, safely moving the trial out of her jurisdiction. She will receive accolades as the prosecutor who indicted six murdering cops, while it will fall to some patsy to prosecute a hopeless case. Then, when charges are reduced to negligence and only the black police van driver does time, what will be the narrative and who will slake the mob’s thirst for blood and fire? Certainly not Ms. Mosby. Not the mayor of Baltimore, nor its Police Commissioner, nor its City Council, nor its representative.
You will. In a thousand ways, you will. Because that’s what’s “fair.”
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.
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