It’s really a tale of two cities, depending on who’s telling the tale.
The borderline-Jacobins at Slate, who believe spanking is child abuse, and personal responsibility is out of fashion, try to explain looting away as a social phenomenon: “Why would anyone burn down the only CVS in their neighborhood?”
The reason, I think, is likely the same reason that poor black Americans in cities across the country burned “their own” neighborhoods in the late 1960s:
They did not experience those places as their own. Then, like now, police brutality was a precipitating cause of the violence, but it was the long-term experience of the indignities of the ghetto that gave shape to the riots. Then, like now, commentators compared the rioters to animals who had run wild and needed discipline. Rioting, to these bystanders, was not proper political protest but the criminal actions of poor people who merely wanted to grab what they could for free. This narrative, which I heard throughout my childhood growing up in Baltimore in the 1980s, put the blame not on the depredations of the ghetto, but on the character of its residents. It completely misapprehends the political economy of our poorest neighborhoods.In other words: they riot because society has ignored them. Not only is that a specious argument, but it also highlights the fact that Baltimore hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1968. So which party is responsible for ignoring the downtrodden social class?
Told another way, Abraham Miller at National Review wrote:
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