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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ferguson & the Nature of Riots


ferguson screenshot 4
Protesters break windshield of police car in Ferguson (Screenshot from Local Live Feed after Ferguson Decision)

It's not necessarily the case that riots “signify intense anger” or “a lack of justice”: riots often simply symbolise riots.


  1. Some young men like violence and they also like to riot. Rioting can be extremely exciting to young men. It can also be a very good opportunity to obtain some free goods (i.e., to loot).
  2. Radical leftists and other kinds of political activists like to utilise such young men – as well as their riots – for their own political ends (in some cases the rioters and the politicos are the same people.)
Historically, and more recently, there have been many riots instigated and conducted on the most flimsy of evidence.

Conversely, there have been many governmental or police misdeeds that haven’t engendered riots. And why is it often the case that the same groups riot (or carry out acts of violence/terrorism) even though they suffer no more discrimination or poverty than other groups? (It should also be noted that most riots occur in hot weather – an ideal time for a riot.)

So if all that’s sometimes the case, do rioters, like terrorists, think that riots work to achieve their ends? Well, in a certain sense terrorism has worked in that governments have given in to specific terror groups or specific acts of terror; and the same is true of rioting.

Rioting has political repercussions, which is precisely what the instigators and some of the rioters intend. It’s not that riots and terrorism are the necessary results of extreme injustice or anger; as Marxist theory has it (though Marxists don’t apply that to rioters and terrorists who have the wrong views).

It’s that rioting and terrorism can be used as very convenient and undemocratic routes to rapid political change.

The Grand Jury’s Decision

In the case of Ferguson, the state prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, said that the jury had exhaustively examined the evidence in order to make the decision whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown. There is no doubt that Michael Brown died after being shot by Wilson, but the question was whether Wilson was acting in self defense, or was he a rogue police officer who killed Michael Brown indiscriminately, for no other reason – as asserted by some – than racism?

McCulloch even went so far as to say that that the “grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process”. It was also the case that 1,000 pages of grand jury documents were released (on Monday) by the authorities.

Now even if some people don’t like the result; that doesn’t give them the right-to-riot. And even if people dispute the result; that still doesn’t give them the right-to-riot.

Think about the logic of not accepting the grand jury and randomly selected jurors’ decision. It means that every time a jury doesn’t come to the result you want, you can justifiably riot. Indeed it also means that every time a jury does come to a result you’re happy with, other people can riot instead!

Another way of putting this is that if people legitimise (or rationalise) riots, then if the jury had come to the decision of “unlawful killing” (or that the police wee motivated by racism), then perhaps the white community of Ferguson would also have had the right-to-riot as a result of that particular hypothetical outcome.

The Logic of Racism

This author does not know the complete truth about this case. But neither do the rioters, the “race hustlers” or radical leftists who’ve played this death like virtuosos.

Protesters have been chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot” – a reference to what some witnesses have said occurred on the day in August when Brown was killed.

The protesters aren’t willing to accept the testimony of the police because they deem them to be racists. But what if other people don’t accept the testimony of these few witnesses because they deem them to be using this death to further certain political goals; or maybe because they deem the witnesses to be anti-white racists?

Skepticism towards one group can just as easily be applied to another.

This might have been the logic of some of the witnesses; as well as of the radical leftists and race hustlers involved:

A white cop killed a black man. Therefore it must have been an act of racism. Full Stop.
So every time a black man mugs a white man or rapes a white woman, is that also automatically an act of racism? (I doubt that leftist logic will stretch in that direction.)

The logic (at least at times) really is that simple. In fact it is made to be that simple because many political activists want it to be that simple. And they want it to be that simple because only such crude simplicity will help them further their own political goals.

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