Living with riots

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One of the things Your Humble Blogger has been dwelling on is why America doesn’t just find a way to live with the occasional riot.

That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Riots aren’t good. I hate them, and I never want to be anywhere near one again.

But there are lots of things I hate and don’t want to be near, and as a nation we live with a lot of them. Floods, fires, earthquakes. Pig farms. Sewage treatment plants. Industrial waste. Nuclear waste. Global warning. Police brutality. We do some stuff to make these things easier to live with, sure. We commit some resources to ameliorating them and then we live with the rest of the problems.

I mean. For fuck’s sake, we were finding a way to live with the pandemic, as bizarre as the phrase living with the pandemic sounds. As a nation, as a culture, we pretty much looked at the notion of another hundred thousand deaths or more, many more people hospitalized and potentially given chronic conditions or long-term compromised health, and we looked at the resources it would take to eradicate it, and we largely said: what if we just learned to live with it?

Didn’t we?

I’m being facetious, in my heavy-handed way. I know why we can’t live with riots. Or, rather, why we can’t live with these riots. After all, we live with sports riots. Looking at the amount of property damage, the expense of cleaning up afterward, that’s not really different from the scale of living with Spring Break parties, big music festivals, even Hallowe’en night. We could live with what happens during the riots. We can’t live with who is rioting, and why.

Imagine this: if every time a police officer in the US killed an unarmed black person, there were a riot—the precinct were set on fire, a dozen nearby buildings were vandalized, a bunch of windows smashed, some looting, a lot of yelling and chanting, a bunch of dumpster fires, and then everyone were to go home and sleep it off. If we knew it would happen, just like we know it happens after championships. A few minor injuries, probably, broken bones. Rarely, some more serious injuries, because you can’t trust a fire. And yes, probably every few years someone would get killed, because a riot is, after all, an ugly thing.

It would be terrible. I would hate it. We could live with it.

What we can’t live with, as a nation, is people of color protesting their violent oppression by the police—or rather, by all of us using the police as a tool. That’s why we feel the need to call out the National Guard and the 101st Airborne. Not because of the riots. Because of who is rioting, and why.

That's what we have to change about ourselves, I think.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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