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Blocking traffic for Ferguson justice

Apologists for the violent exercise of compulsive power have their hands full this week.

The situation reportedly was not as bad in Ferguson, Missouri on Tuesday night – not surprising, since everything worth looting got the works on Monday, and the National Guard finally deployed – but anarchy spread across the land, as the usual band of agitator hitched their wagons to the Darren Wilson grand jury verdict and whipped up crowds in urban areas.  Communists and Palestinian activists quickly joined the party in Oregon, for example.  (The dirty little secret nobody in the mainstream media wants to investigate is that such groups were instrumental behind the scenes in planning and organizing these demonstrations, long before they publicly joined forces on the streets.)  It looks like ISIS wants to get in on the fun, too, suggesting to the rioters that Sharia law is better than “a ‘justice’ system made up of a jury of racists.”

The hot new tactic involves blocking traffic in the name of “justice,” as Fox News reports:

In California, Oakland protesters vandalized police cars, smashed windows at car dealerships, restaurants and convenience stores as well as setting fire to trash in the middle of city streets.

The crowd also shut down two major freeways before police forced the crowds to disperse.

Protesters in Los Angeles crowded U.S. 101 freeway barricading lanes stopping traffic. Police cornered the protesters on an overpass, but one protester managed to toss a barricade off the overpass onto the freeway.

Thousands of people marched in Manhattan gathering in Union Square and holding up traffic on FDR Drive, Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Commissioner William Bratton said police were giving protesters “breathing room.”

“As long as they remain nonviolent, and as long as they don’t engage in issues that cause fear or create vandalism, we will work with them to allow them to demonstrate,” he said.

That’s nice.  When do law-abiding motorists get some “breathing room” from the multiple layers of mega-government they surrender more than half their income to finance?  Say, does everyone remember when the Left was basically accusing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of complicity in negligent homicide because renegade staffers closed a single bridge lane, to the inconvenience of ambulance drivers?  The Ferguson droogies actually blocked access to entire hospitals last night, but it’s all good.

Needless to say, this childish business of blocking roads to defend the right of black youths to beat up white cops is dangerous:

A car struck a pedestrian early Tuesday afternoon at a rally. The car then continued to burst through the pack of demonstrators. The driver called the police immediately after the incident. The woman suffered minor injuries.

Several hundred people marched down a Cleveland freeway ramp to block rush-hour traffic while protesting the Missouri developments and Saturday’s fatal shooting by an officer of 12-year-old Tamir Rice of Cleveland, who had a pellet gun that looked like a real firearm.

“The system wasn’t made to protect us,” said one of the protesters, 17-year-old Naesha Pierce. “To get justice, the people themselves have to be justice.”

Riot police arrested several demonstrators in St. Louis on Interstate 44 near the Edward Jones Dome. Protesters disrupted traffic for several hours before they were dispersed by police with pepper spray.

Several hundred people from historically black schools Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University in Georgia held peaceful demonstrations. But as the night wore on, some groups split off and tried to block a freeway, and police said some windows were broken.

Police said 21 people were arrested, mostly for failure to disperse when asked, but one person faces a weapons charge.

Ah, so it was “mostly peaceful” then.  They also mostly peacefully overturned barricades to swarm the federal courthouse in St. Louis, set another police car on fire in Ferguson, threw bottles filled with urine at the police, and smashed up stores located right next to a “Peace for Ferguson” memorial.  This is all either contrary to the wishes of Michael Brown’s family, or in complete accordance with their shouted instructions, depending on which of their statements you take more seriously.  CBS News in St. Louis summarizes them both:

Brown??s parents made public calls for peace in the run-up to Monday??s announcement, and on Tuesday, their representatives again stressed that the people setting fires were not on Michael Brown??s side.

Videos that were widely circulated on Tuesday showed Brown??s mother, Lesley McSpadden, standing atop a car and breaking down as the announcement of the grand jury decision blares over the stereo.

Her husband, Brown??s stepfather, comforts her, then begins angrily yelling ??Burn the bitch down!? to a crowd gathered around him. Asked about the comment at a news conference, family attorney Benjamin Crump said the reaction was, ??raw emotion. Not appropriate at all. Completely inappropriate.?

I’m sure that will make the good people of Ferguson feel better as they pick through the ruins of their looted and burned stores.  It was all “completely inappropriate,” folks.

The conflicting signals from the Brown family are emblematic of this whole mess.  The “protest” movement wants to use violent tactics for intimidation (plus the sheer fun of vandalism and looting), but they also demand the respect that would be due to a disciplined movement peaceably offering a compelling argument.  You don’t have to block traffic, particularly near medical centers, to partake of free speech… but if your argument isn’t very compelling, captive audiences are essential.

Media apologias for this violence are beginning to crop up, including a disgusting homily to barbarism by Darlena Cunha in Time Magazine:

The violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., are part of the American experience. Peaceful protesting is a luxury only available to those safely in mainstream culture.

When a police officer shoots a young, unarmed black man in the streets, then does not face indictment, anger in the community is inevitable. It??s what we do with that anger that counts. In such a case, is rioting so wrong?

Riots are a necessary part of the evolution of society. Unfortunately, we do not live in a universal utopia where people have the basic human rights they deserve simply for existing, and until we get there, the legitimate frustration, sorrow and pain of the marginalized voices will boil over, spilling out into our streets. As ??normal? citizens watch the events of Ferguson unfurl on their television screens and Twitter feeds, there is a lot of head shaking, finger pointing, and privileged explanation going on. We wish to seclude the incident and the people involved. To separate it from our history as a nation, to dehumanize the change agents because of their bad and sometimes violent decisions??because if we can separate the underlying racial tensions that clearly exist in our country from the looting and rioting of select individuals, we can continue to ignore the problem.

Yes, I’m sure the Left would have been singing the praises of violent protest as an integral part of the American experience if the Tea Party had done anything like this.  The Tea Party comparison isn’t just a game of partisan “gotcha,” although no one who remembers the Left’s hyperventilation over those huge, peaceful, neat-and-tidy rallies can stifle a snort of disbelief at how readily liberals excuse actual violence from people they find ideologically useful.  The point is that arguments like the one presented in Time Magazine would be precisely inverted to denounce conservative activists who did so much as block a single intersection – they’d be told they have no right to violently assert power against the State, while leftist agitators are given broad license to use such tactics against the American people.  They would not be applauded for demonstrating on behalf of the actual basic human rights enumerated in the Constitution, because those rights are restrictions on the collective power of government, while the new “rights” espoused by the Left enhance the power of the State to seize and redistribute wealth and goods.

The Tea Party’s very existence was framed as an act of unacceptable political violence – they were described as incipient rioters, and even terrorists, not just by lathered-up liberal pundits but by elected Democrats.  Any individual action that could be portrayed as offensive received obsessive coverage, including famous incidents that didn’t actually happen, including false allegations of racism.  On the other hand, the media reflexively soft-pedals what the Ferguson mob is doing.  It’s virtually impossible to find a single mainstream-media article that mentions every violent and criminal act committed nationwide Monday or Tuesday.  It’s hard to find a single MSM report that references every such act committed in Ferguson.

The  veil of grad-student sociobabble over the exercise of violence in the pursuit of collectivist power grows thinner with each succeeding paragraph in the Time piece:

While the most famous rant against the riots thus far comes from Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo, where he calls the rioters ??animals? and ??losers,? there are thousands of people echoing these sentiments. Sorbo correctly ascertains that the rioting has little to do with the shooting of an unarmed black man in the street, but he blames it on the typical privileged American??s stereotype of a less fortunate sect of human being??that the looting is a result of frustration built up over years of ??blaming everyone else, The Man, for their failures.?

Because when you have succeeded, it ceases to be a possibility, in our capitalist society, that anyone else helped you. And if no one helped you succeed, then no one is holding anyone else back from succeeding. Except they did help you, and they are holding people back. So that blaming someone else for your failures in the United States may very well be an astute observation of reality, particularly as it comes to white privilege versus black privilege. And, yes, they are different, and they are tied to race, and that doesn??t make me a racist, it makes me a realist. If anything, I am racist because I am white. Until I have had to walk in a person of color??s skin, I will never understand, I will always take things for granted, and I will be inherently privileged. But by ignoring the very real issues this country still faces in terms of race to promote an as-of-yet imaginary colorblind society, we contribute to the problem at hand, which is centuries of abuses lobbied against other humans on no basis but that of their skin color.

If your head hurts trying to understand all that, it’s just the usual “give us free stuff or else” threat, couched in what the author imagines to be high-minded language about compulsory “rights.”  We’re well into the second century of people using the alleged inequities of capitalism (i.e. economic freedom) to justify the violent seizure of property, either through government force or freelance mob work.  Some of the people making these arguments aren’t educated well enough to understand that Karl Marx and his disciples already covered this ground, and got millions of people killed putting their theories into practice.  Some of them are educated enough to know that.  I’m not sure which is worse.

Rest assured that many of the people in the mobs blocking freeways, tunnels, and hospitals feel exactly as the Time article describes: various “inequities” justify everything they do.  They hold indictments against civilization itself that list many charges; even if they settle down for reasoned discourse long enough to strike a few of the more absurd charges off that list, the rest of them remain.  They feel absolutely no gratitude toward the people who have already paid so much into a government that spends trillions ostensibly seeing to their needs.  Worse, they don’t really hold the government itself responsible for absconding with all that money and providing such shoddy services, not just in terms of direct assistance to the disadvantaged, but also in terms of nurturing the economy that is supposed to provide gainful opportunities to us all.  They hold no brief against the madcap regulators that crush growth for all but their favorite well-connected clients, the tax-mad super-State that leeches away our national wealth, or the public unions that provide such unsatisfactory educations for their children.

That’s because these people have been molded into their present state of angry despair by the Democrat Party over the course of decades, their frustration weaponized and targeted at the people who pay for everything, not the government bureaucrats who fail to use that funding wisely.  They’ve been taught to fear the free-market capitalism that could set them free, and love the dependency that keeps them down.  They’ve been told to depend on a corrupt system without holding it accountable for any of its failures, with one notable exception: they’ve also been taught to resent law enforcement, which you’ll notice is explicitly presented to them as the mercenary muscle of an unjust, racist society, rather than agents of the benevolent super-State.

In a sense, blocking a federal highway is the closest many of these demonstrators will ever come to putting a finger on the actual source of their misery.  The problem is that they’re doing it to injure the people using the highways, not the government that builds and maintains them.  They’re abusing something everyone uses, and everyone pays for, not because they wish to exercise free speech, but because they demand an audience.  It’s no surprise that people who have been taught to feel powerless their whole lives become giddy with the occasional taste of power, no matter how illegitimately it is obtained.  Those who know how to use compulsive power are not so easily intoxicated, and play longer games.

 

 

 

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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