10 Rules for postmodern rioting
Is it deemed more or less evil to wear a mask while hitting a store owner over the head with a two-by-four?
by Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness
7 Jun 20
The peaceful protests against the terrible brutalization and death of George Floyd soon either themselves turned violent or, in many cases, were hijacked by Antifa operatives and opportunistic looters or both. It was certainly not as alleged a “small number” who destroyed swaths of New York, Santa Monica, Minneapolis, or Philadelphia.
After watching hours of such footage of mayhem and destruction, one can glean a few rules that the rioters apparently followed quite religiously. And they are often disconcerting if not bizarre. Here is a sample of 10.
Rule 1: Selfies
In our culture of narcissism, rioters seemed intent on obsessing with their smartphones, often to capture their criminality with as many selfies as possible, as well as recording friends’ crimes in action. It was almost as if looting was envisioned as performance art.
Was the logic that there is always time to steal and burn, but not so much to capture oneself momentarily breaking and entering for posterity? Why would anyone take time to record the act of lighting up a store or kicking in a window? Is the postmodern assumption that when one posts these revolutionary acts on Facebook, some Hollywood talent agent in his Malibu home gym might spot the scene in cyberspace of shattering glass or defacing the Lincoln Monument and Skype his interest therein in a future actor? Are there stars born among the flames?
Rule 2: Masks
Apparently, one may hate the state and its rules of law and order, but government still has a point when it comes to a 1-in-1,000 chance of dying from COVID-19 — and in the prime of life.
Obviously, there are some dangers associated with lighting fires, blowing up cars, tossing Molotov cocktails into police vehicles, and entering a small business where the owner could be armed — but why take additional needless risks? So some rioters wear masks to protect both their own health and that of their fellow looters — and I suppose the health, too, of the cops and any innocent bystanders they happen to assault.
Is it deemed more or less evil to wear a mask while hitting a store owner over the head with a two-by-four? Moreover, the ubiquity of masks seems to denote multiple uses: hiding identity while protecting the lungs from the toxic fumes one ignites? Masks not worn en masse while damning capitalism seem exempted acts in a way that masks worn by single individuals while trying to make a living are not.
What will be the governors’ new narrative about masks and social distancing: if you wish to protest, even loot or burn, the state grants you permission to violate quarantine, but only as long as you don’t try to reopen an urgent care or a florist shop?
Rule 3: Race
In a crusade to end racial hierarchy, some protestors seemed adamant in practicing racial separatism and spacing. Young, white, single, childless, upper-middle-class kids, perhaps many living in their parents’ basements, are usually stigmatized as Pajama Boys. So often they compensate by posing as hardened deadly revolutionaries. But, in fact, they also consider themselves precious assets and therefore more equal than others. They have professional futures and with them resumes that a felony indictment might sidetrack. So they ease back in the shadows to plot grand strategy on social media and issue periodic orders where to assemble and which store to torch.
As clever and privileged propagandists, they certainly will be sure that inner-city looters are caught on national television carrying out high-definition televisions, while to the rear they provide the sloganeering, the edgy graffiti, and the bricks and bottles for the foot-soldiers they order callously into battle. In Minneapolis, it was reported that mostly white looters destroyed a black-owned business purportedly on behalf of the Black Lives Matter.
Does Antifa practice proportional representation and disparate impact? And if not, why not?
Rule 4: Staples
Why do not the soldiers of a revolution that seeks to bring social justice to the underclass that is deprived of the very staples of daily existence, focus on life essentials? Why instead do they hunt Louis Vuitton bags, Nike sneakers, iPhones, and laptops? Are these treasures edible? Is the point to destroy capitalist triflings or to run off with them? What is the logic of officials in major cities who plead with Walmart to stay in the inner-city, after its unguarded stores were left to be attacked and ruined?
Rule 5: Class
Those in academia, Hollywood, and the media count on rioters to be arrested for the cause, and they certainly will generously provide electronic bail and moral encouragement on Twitter. The heroism of those with two-by-fours and rocks will be championed from the Upper West Side and Menlo Park. The elite Left asks only of the looters to keep clear of Palos Verdes Estates and not enter Westchester.
After this is all over, it is assumed that their present empathy in a moment of revolutionary fervor does not mean that the children of those arrested will school with those of their abettors. Looters and rioters will not be welcomed as noble peasants in the sacrosanct feudal keeps of Presidio Heights, and they should not expect a dinner invitation from the Hollywood Hills. The Malibu manor walls of Cher and Barbra Streisand will not come down with the revolution. Cyber-solidarity between left-wing rich and poor, white and black, ends when the last rock is thrown and the final match is lit.