We’ve recently seen riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, and there are growing concerns that Cleveland will be the next city to become embroiled in riots.  As we learn about (relatively well-) paid protesters and watch the usual parade of race grievance mongers, one thing has become quite clear:  the left has decided that violent riots are a viable tool for change.

According to Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine:

The recent spate of protests against police brutality have changed the way the left thinks about rioting. The old liberal idea, which distinguished between peaceful protests (good) and rioting (bad), has given way to a more radical analysis. “Riots work,” insists George Ciccariello-Maher in Salon. “But despite the obviousness of the point, an entire chorus of media, police, and self-appointed community leaders continue to try to convince us otherwise, hammering into our heads a narrative of a nonviolence that has never worked on its own, based on a mythical understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.” Vox’s German Lopez, while acknowledging the downside of random violence, argues, “Riots can lead to real, substantial change.” In Rolling Stone, Jesse Myerson asserts, “the historical pedigree of property destruction as a tactic of resistance is long and frequently effective.” Darlena Cunha, writing in Time, asks, “Is rioting so wrong?” and proceeds to answer her own question in the negative.

The shift from peaceful protesting to rioting is a reflection of the sort of thinking that was prevalent among 1960’s radicals (such as Bill Ayers).  However, the majority of Americans in the ’60s were turned off by—even horrified by—the Weather Underground’s terrorism and the violent rioting in our cities.

Despite the enthusiastic embrace of rioting by the radical left today, Americans still reject rioting.  According to Chait,

It is surely the case that some positive social reforms have emerged in response to rioting. Lopez highlights the Kerner Commission and diversity efforts in the Los Angeles Police Department. But the question is not whether rioting ever yields a productive response, but whether it does so in general. Omar Wasow, an assistant professor at the department of politics at Princeton, has published a timely new paper studying this very question. And his answer is clear: Riots on the whole provoke a hostile right-wing response. They generate attention, all right, but the wrong kind.

The “hostile right-wing response” to which he refers is the simple fact that riots make Americans more conservative.

That’s a good thing.


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