Two things must be happening for the Democratic nominee to cut ads against “rioters and looters.” It must be showing up in polling in negative ways; and it must be attributed mostly to the left. The last item is of course entirely correct: the overwhelming responsibility for the civic violence of the past several months is the left’s, as is the overwhelming responsibility for most of the civic violence of the past decade. There is a direct line from the Occupy violence (a leftist movement) to the first iteration of the Black Lives Matter violence (a leftist movement) to the violence in the early Trump administration (a more distributed leftist movement) to the latest iteration of the Black Lives Matter — and Antifa, depending on what sort of opaque analysis you adhere to — violence (again, the left). As has been noted in this very space time and again, in the context of the various left-wing city-center seizure exercises of the past few years — think back to the various mass marches and their expeditious nature — there is an apparatus that has been honed here, and it is willing to act.
There is also a cadre of veterans by now, from Manhattan to Ferguson to Portland to Kenosha, with a great deal of experience and understanding of how the system works, and how it breaks.
A few items on this:
1) The Democratic nominee, and the Democrats in general, will denounce specific acts — when compelled — but they aren’t going to denounce the ideological precursors to those acts. This matters a great deal, because the violence is not actually going to end until those ideologies lose their grip on the huge segments of the public psyche. The reality is that if you adhere to a certain set of propositions — for example, that policing in 2020 is morally indistinguishable from slave-catching in 1850, or that the American republic is fundamentally a white-supremacy superstructure, or that immorality is literally impossible for a person of color versus a white person — then violence is both inevitable and, by those premises, justified. There’s a direct line from the 1619 Project to Minneapolis and Portland wracked by unrest. If you are opposed to the existing insurrection on anything more than tactical grounds, you have to directly address this. They won’t.
2) The on-the-ground foot soldiers of the insurrection have no structural imperative to actually heed the Biden plea. They’re in control of the ideological narrative on the Democratic side — remember, this same Presidential campaign has literally been bailing some of them out of jail — and they don’t feel themselves under any particular constraint or pressure from the mostly Democratic city and prosecutorial officeholders in whose jurisdiction they operate. Ending violence means giving up the source of their own power, and no institution is going to do that. Furthermore, assuming for the sake of argument that their actions are in fact a boon to the President’s re-election, the smart radical might ask: so what? If you’re interested in accelerating a cycle of radicalization on the left-base, doesn’t that help?
3) The attempts on the right to mobilize counter-violence will be alternately stupid and doomed. (To be clear, I do not mean here Americans who defend their own property, lives, and livelihoods: but then, who can doubt that the famous 1992 rooftop Koreans would not today be jailed and prosecuted by aspiring Kamala Harrises in Democratic DA offices across the country?) Stupid because the way out of this is not bigger and better brawling street militias; and doomed because the left’s well-honed apparatus will beat them. The recent Portland incident, with a right-wing mob rolling into town with paint guns, and having one of their number literally executed by a left-wing mob with real guns, is the template. Anyone considering getting into the fight and taking on the bad guys, in a manner and place of the bad guys’ choosing, should stay home.
The last item begs the question: what is the way out of this? The proximate answer is simple: use the police, National Guard, and regular military available to nearly every chief executive at every level across the nation. Lawful authority, the sole actual voice of the American people, must assert itself. Every single mayor and governor presiding over a city in turmoil could do this immediately, and America could be at peace within a fortnight.
But they don’t.
Re-mirrored to LJ from Dreamwidth.
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