01 June 2020

Targeting the innocent

I'll take it as a given that pretty much everyone reading this recognizes that the murder of George Floyd was an atrocity worthy of protest, even revenge.  My topic here is the problem of people who can't seem to distinguish between protesting and committing further crimes against innocent people who have nothing to do with the original murder.

Blogger Bob Felton made part of the case on Saturday.  Even those businesses which are part of national chains provide goods and services which would otherwise be in short supply in some communities.  They employ local people and do some of their spending locally.  If those businesses are destroyed or suffer massive losses from looting, in some cases the chains may decide it's not worth re-opening in the same area, damaging the local economy.  In the case of small locally-owned businesses, some individuals -- who, again, had nothing to do with Floyd's murder at all -- have lost everything.

Blocking roads and stopping traffic is, if not violence, harassment aimed at equally innocent people.  Those victimized by it who didn't already have very strong feelings about whatever issue such "protests" are about, are likely to be turned against the perpetrators' position.  Remember, what matters is not how you think people should react, but how they actually will react.  Such tactics, like the destruction and looting, foster hostility to the protesters' cause, not support for it.

That may even be the intent, in some cases.  There's evidence that much of the violence is actually being committed by white supremacists who have infiltrated the protests.  Videos have shown masked white men committing vandalism while ignoring black protesters who were trying to stop them.  Infiltrating provocateurs into protest movements to foment violence and thus discredit the protests is an old tactic, and there's a subset of white supremacists who advocate bringing about chaos and anarchy in the belief that their cause would eventually win out under such conditions.

Besides undermining the fight for justice against police violence, targeting the innocent bolsters support for right-wing reactions.  I've seen it pointed out that the riots make a strong case for ownership of powerful guns -- if your business is targeted for destruction and the police can't or won't protect it, you need to be able to do so yourself.  Recall how Korean shopkeepers during the 1992 Los Angeles riots formed armed resistance units to defend themselves after being abandoned by the police.  Fear of violence also leads to demands for a tougher law-and-order stance by authorities, to protect the vulnerable, which is likely to translate into more votes for Republicans.  Again, what matters is not how you think people should react, but how they actually will react.  Electoral-Vote today has a discussion of how the riots will likely boost Trump's chances of re-election.  Expect this to become a prominent issue -- the rioting is a huge opportunity given to the Republicans on a silver platter, and they'd be fools to not exploit it to the hilt.

Unrestrained venting of anger is usually counterproductive.  Recall the enraged gangs of armed, creepy thugs who descended on state capitals in April, protesting against the lockdowns that most Americans actually supported.  They didn't do their own cause or image any favors -- and if they'd engaged in large-scale vandalism and looting, they would have alienated far more potential support.

It's not only a few bloggers who are pointing out these things; the mayor of Atlanta has done so as well.

There are ways of resisting police violence that will actually do some good.  Peaceful protests build public sympathy, without which efforts to curb police behavior can't succeed.  More effective is voting for Democrats at every level, since Democratic officials are much more likely to enact effective legislation and rules about the problem, especially if there's a strong demand for it from constituencies vital to the Democratic voting base.  Some progress has already been made -- the cop who killed Floyd has been fired and arrested, something which rarely happened in such cases until recently.  Targeting the innocent alienates potential support and ultimately benefits only the enemy.  It's what Trump and his gang want to see happen.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Oh you know IMPOTUS is happily watching all this from the White House bunker, just like you-know-who would have done.
One of the aims of the troll farms was to follow Vlad’s orders of sowing racial unrest in America. Mission accomplished by Individual 1: the real threat. The call is coming from inside the (White) house.


01 June, 2020 13:56  
Blogger RB said...

Sadly this violence is helping Trump. The millions of people in the US who would never admit to voting for Trump are aghast at the violence, and while they won't admit it, favor his hard line against the violent protesters. Many people agree with "When the looting starts, the shooting starts"

01 June, 2020 13:58  
Blogger Mike said...

I saw on the news where a police officer got separated from his group and black protesters formed a protective chain around him to protect him from other protestors.

Another where a black woman was hollering at a white woman for spraying BLM graffiti on a wall.

And watching what's going on in Ferguson again, this time there are many more whites in the crowd.

01 June, 2020 17:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The question arises how much of the damage is being instigated and committed by undercover police agents and white punks trying to cause troubel.
I remember when Nixon invaded Cambodia in the protests that followed watching police go through the GWU campus and casualy smash windows and toss in either tear gas canisters that resulted in the car being torched.
Of course the protestors got blaimed because the public all knew the cops aren't that criminal.
Yeah right

01 June, 2020 17:26  
Blogger RO said...

Despite eating cheeseburgers and watching too many movies, I've been following this on national news channels and local channels, and reading info on the Internet. I agree with you - the innocent shouldn't be punished, and so many businesses were already suffering. Yesterday, I was horrified and watched with my own eyes a peaceful protest in Washington DC. No violence, no bottle throwing, no lotting starting fires, etc. There was nothing physical was going on. Imagine my surprise when the National Guard, Military and DC police started randomly throwing tear bombs, flashers and shooting rubber bullets for no reason at the crowds. There was no type of verbal warning at all, even asking them to move. The news people that were there watched in shock as these people were physically abused so they could move away from where they were. Violence is definitely not the key, and this whole situation saddens me so much. I hope yu are doing well, and sending lots of air hugs. RO

02 June, 2020 02:51  
Blogger jenny_o said...

Excellent commentary.

The mayor of Atlanta was inspiring in her address to her citizens.

As far as handing the Republicans a gift on a silver platter, I expect Trump will find a way to undermine it - clumsily and inadvertantly, of course. In fact, he may have already done it last night with his photo op in front of a church, with protesters forced out of his path with tear gas and rubber bullets. It's drawn significant negative attention to how he's (not) handling this crisis but instead, once again, making it all about him.

02 June, 2020 03:30  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

"As far as handing the Republicans a gift on a silver platter, I expect Trump will find a way to undermine it - clumsily and inadvertantly, of course."

You are prescient.

Last night Trump tear gassed peaceful and lawful demonstrators and walked to St. John's church where he clumsily held (upside down and backward) a Bible for a cheap photo op that gained him nothing and drew the contempt of the bishop of the church. Yep. Undermined.

Trump thought that would be a show of strength and a sop to the cult Evangelicals. He looked like a weak, tin-pot dictator instead.

02 June, 2020 07:05  
Blogger Comrade Misfit said...

How many decades of this stuff has to go on before people get fed up and react violently? How many black people have to die at the hands of the police? How many minorities have to be stopped on bullshit pretexts so the cops can harass them?

What we get are platitudes and promises to "do something". Trump scrapped DoJ's program for police accountability. Trump told the cops be not be so nice to people.

How much longer are people supposed to swallow the daily abuses and humiliations? How much longer are people supposed to play nice and hope that the system which has tolerated police murdering minorities will eventually change?

Why are people so surprised that there are riots?

02 June, 2020 07:51  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

I've been reading on Twitter that white supremacists and other mob type groups are coming in from other states and causing a lot of the problems. The rioting and looting needs to be stopped.

02 June, 2020 10:01  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: In this case, given the track record of police violence, I don't think we needed much help from the Russians.

RB: The not-admitting-it part concerns me. A lot of people probably won't tell even pollsters what they're thinking -- but they'll vote based on what they think will restore law and order.

Mike: There have been a lot of cases of the actual protesters trying to restrain the violence. I don't know how much of the violence is being committed by outsiders trying to sabotage the protests, but I'd bet it's a lot of it.

Anon: I haven't heard of any evidence of undercover cops being involved -- yet -- but it wouldn't be surprising.

RO: Yes, that's also an issue. By all accounts the authorities have often grossly over-reacted to those protests that really are peaceful. We have some very fundamental problems with policing. One of many things Biden will need to address when he's president.

02 June, 2020 12:17  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Jenny_o: Thanks. And what a blessing that Trump is so incompetent and oblivious. An intelligent autocrat would be riding this situation to near-certain re-election. Trump usually screws things up with his excessive and stupid rhetoric, so the appeal ends up limited to those who most fervently supported him anyway.

Shaw: Yes, that's typical of him. To his clueless mind, it made sense -- look tough, appeal to evangelicals -- but he completely embarrassed himself.

Misfit: I don't think anyone is surprised that there are riots, and I don't think anyone here is unaware of how bad the problem of police violence is. But that's not what this post is about. The point is that rioting is hurting mostly innocent people (many of them black), and essentially dancing to the Republicans' tune.

Mary: Exactly. For white supremacists who want to spread their belief system, this rioting is exactly what they'd want the country to be seeing.

02 June, 2020 12:28  
Anonymous nonnie9999 said...

I don't the protests are going to work in Twitler's favor. The more he reacts, the more desperate and ineffective he looks. He tries to put on a tough guy exterior, but he looks ridiculous. Even Faux News is not on board. In contrast, Democratic leaders, including Joe Biden, don't have to make believe they are sympathetic or empathetic. While Twitler is arrogant, they are humble. When Twitler calls for violence, they call for peace.

I'm not an optimist by nature, but I think the killing of George Floyd is different than other killings by police officers. It happened right before our eyes. There was no denying that the man was subdued and not threatening in the least. The nonchalance of the cops was sickening.

One thing I did see on Twitter disturbed me. On the day the video came out, people were tweeting pictures of the wife of the cop who knelt on George Floyd's neck. They included her place of employment and pictures of her home. Her husband may be trash, but what did she do to deserve that? Maybe she has shitty taste in men, but that doesn't mean she should be targeted for firing or something much worse.

02 June, 2020 16:41  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nonnie: Trump's certainly managing to blow it. His posing-with-the-Bible stunt is being panned everywhere except among die-hard Trumpanzees. He just doesn't know how to exploit the situation intelligently.

Targeting innocent family members of criminals is ugly and evil. Unfortunately there are a lot of ugly and evil people out there.

03 June, 2020 15:47  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

looking from the white house windows.hhahahaha..you mean watching it on tv in the bunker.

03 June, 2020 19:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Naturally his bunker would have TV, but only Fox News.

05 June, 2020 04:28  
Blogger Mary said...

Trump will definitely use this looting and rioting to his advantage. Why is it that people so often do things to hurt the very causes they are fighting for and also vote against their own best interests.
I see so much similarities to Hitler pre WWII...it’s very scary..and the election is 5 months away.

05 June, 2020 06:08  
Blogger Mary said...

I believe you like videos...this is priceless...funny and so true.. and pertinent to this post


05 June, 2020 08:13  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: That's funny (and topical). It's a bit hard for me to get into those Hitler parodies, though, because I understand German pretty well and I know what they're actually saying.

10 June, 2020 05:55  

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