Months of legitimate protests have sadly devolved into riots and violence in many of our major cities. Hundreds of police officers have been injured, dozens of people have been killed, and billions of dollars of property have been destroyed. Why did this happen?
The spark was a video of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. But the reaction was much greater in this tragic death than any other. Victor Davis Hanson observes that the rioters “trying to burn down a Portland police precinct – with police barricaded inside – or looting the high-end boutiques of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile” does NOT appear to be driven by Floyd’s death.
One explanation is the perfect storm of the fear of COVID-19 coupled with the lockdowns. Millions of youth sequestered in their apartments and basements unemployed and worried about their dismal career options wanted to vent their rage at the world.
Others point to the fact that it is an election year with tensions high about the possible reelection or defeat of President Trump. Still others point to groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter that took advantage of the protests and used the turmoil in the streets to advance their agenda.
Hanson argues that “None of these explanations are mutually exclusive.” But they don’t explain the senseless vandalism of the “statues of Ulysses S. Grant and Frederick Douglas, and the World War II Memorials.” The mob in the street is engaged in a cultural revolution. By definition, cultural revolutions are “incoherent and nihilist.”
We have seen this before in the French Revolution and in Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The mob in the street promotes anarchy and violence but isn’t trying to form a more perfect union. It’s often violence for violence sake.