The death of George Floyd has set off a wave of violent unrest across the United States. In its wake, a disturbing narrative has emerged from the woke left deeming this violence a legitimate, effective means of compelling political change. Widely advocated by young, progressive liberals, this position aligns with an increasingly popular view among Democrats that peaceful protest is but one option rather than the rule, especially when supporting violence provides an opportunity to repudiate one’s privilege while proclaiming infallible allegiance to Black Lives Matter. But this normalization of violence proves a slippery slope that places American lives at the mercy of the liberal left’s group-think culture.
Since Floyd’s death, at least 13 people have been killed during demonstrations with little to no mention – much less condemnation – by Democratic leaders or the main-stream media. Business owners have been savagely beaten and police officers viciously attacked with bricks, vehicles, and explosives. Nation-wide looting and destruction have caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to American businesses, and these costs come as no surprise. The 1992 L.A. riots resulted in more than 50 deaths, 2,000 injuries, and some $1 billion in damage – approximately half of which was sustained by minority-owned businesses. Nonetheless, a growing number of progressives openly advocate such violence in order to coerce political action – by definition embracing the use of terrorist tactics on American soil.
The USA Patriot Act (18 U.S.C. § 2331) defines domestic terrorism as activities occurring primarily within U.S. boarders involving acts “dangerous to human life” that violate state or federal criminal laws and appearing to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping. If even murder is just in the face of injustice, is this progressive contingent adopting openly a pro-terror stance? Surely under this logic woke liberals would forgive the eco-terrorism of Greenpeace. And was not the Irish Republican Army making a sympathetic plea for justice when it bombed civilian targets to end British rule of Northern Ireland? Even al Qaeda’s barbaric attacks on American civilians – carried out in a quest to expel U.S. forces from Muslim territories and quell American political influence – would be deemed excusable in pursuit of justice under this twisted liberal logic. Will progressives know when they’ve gone too far down this ends-justify-the-means rabbit hole?
We assume the moral line would be self-evident, but clearly it is not. The deaths of David Dorn, Dave Patrick Underwood, and Italia Kelly have not rattled the liberal conscience, nor has the attempted murder of police officers, the destruction of first-generation American businesses, or the defacing of national landmarks. The crushing weight of liberal group-think has pressured Democratic leaders into relative silence on the matter or else into adopting the radical policy outright. Seattle Councilmember Tammy Morales has publicly affirmed the notion that violence begets change, and Minneapolis City Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison tweeted “I hereby declare, officially, my support for ANTIFA” while riots ravaged his own city. Although such dangerous rhetoric has been countered by a few powerful voices like that of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, rebukes have been mild at best. Without a strong, unified denunciation of violence by Democratic leadership, today’s progressive youths will continue to condone its use as the leaders of tomorrow.
The arguments levied by violence-for-change advocates ignore ethics and logic in favor of an emotional appeal. Indeed, every terrorist likely shares the sentiment that peaceful protest does not compell adequate change – thus necessitating violence. Likewise, while the black community understands rage, it does not hold a monopoly. Surely every victim of rape, abuse, or terrorism understands the purest form of rage, yet has no moral authority to destroy a civilian’s livelihood. And alas, one can be simultaneously outraged by Floyd’s death and by the intentional destruction of a community. Putting aside the numerous riot-related deaths (of which these progressives appear blithely unaware), any good liberal should be quick to acknowledge the emotional damage caused by watching a symbol of the community burned to the ground. Indeed, the destruction of cultural heritage sites as well as private property not necessary to military operations are international war crimes due to the emotional and societal harm such acts inflict. This destruction at once offends our identity, our sense of community, and the American dream at large.
The vast majority of protestors have demonstrated peacefully, and their right to do so should be dutifully protected. But the violence-for-change narrative must be quashed. Caught up in the panicked, frenzied quest for atonement in an era of liberal group-think and political correctness – where simply saying “no” makes one a privileged racist – these over-zealous progressives are blinded by white guilt and moral self-righteousness, all but incapable of objectively analyzing the ramifications of their pro-violence stance. Where this contingent fails to recognize its own rot, the Democratic leadership must step in to forcefully denounce such treachery before violent protest becomes the new normal. Support for violence will never atone for the sin of whiteness; it will only validate terrorization of fellow Americans the liberal agenda calls for it.
Cameron J. Morgan is a Seattle-based attorney who writes on issues involving international law and foreign affairs.