In 2014, under a different presidential administration and in different social contexts, Ferguson, Missouri, went up in flames to protest alleged police brutality against the African American community. In 2020, the country is plagued by a similar disaster, albeit this time protests are nationwide. The fact that six years have passed but America still hasn’t overcome its problematic social angst, tells us all we need to know about these riots. They don’t work. If they did work, certainly we wouldn’t still be talking about police brutality, and the issue would have been put to bed six years ago.
What’s ironic is that the same side of the political spectrum that idolizes these riots are also the ones who lament the form of activism that actually does work. For years, anyone connected to the world of politics and public policy have heard the left bemoan the problem of money controlling politicians. Politics and power is and always has been the answer. If a person wants to change how the police force operates, replace their bosses. If a voter wants to alter how politicians react to racism, s/he should control his/her politicians. Money is not the only means to gain power over your elected leadership. On the contrary, it’s an inferior method. The most effective method is through voting and the way to influence voting is through activism. This country is founded on the fact that it is, to an extent, malleable to fit voter preferences. All a citizen has to do is take civic action.
What America has witnessed over the last few days wasn’t a protest, it was over-glorified and under prosecuted robberies, vandalism, and violence. Needless to say, people watching other humans destroy businesses and cities does not positively perpetuate any agenda. It does enforce, though, opposition to the cause the looters claim to be advocating. Nobody is going to sympathize with a movement when the protesting being done on its behalf results in activists running out of storefronts with a flat screen TV and a new wardrobe from their retailer of choice.
Though it’s always difficult to generalize, the African American community seems to understand this. Videos of African Americans pleading with rioters to stop hurting their cause surfaced on social media. Some black community leaders tweeted the same sentiment. Their position was beautifully articulated by a media personality and activist called Killer Mike, who said:
Of course, Mike is correct. Just as white people attacking white business owners in the streets didn’t solve the countries problems in 2014, it won’t in 2020, either. But what can affect whatever “institutional” problems exist is changing those who run the institutions. Call it old-fashioned, but civil activism, writing persuasive op-eds, and voting in blocs works. It always has and for as long as America stays true to its founding, it always will work.
Despite all the talk about America being divided, ironically, it seems that we all agree on the most crucial point surrounding the riots plaguing the nation: George Floyd’s death was unfortunate, unnecessary, and most of all tragic. If most reasonable people agree that the trigger of what we are now dealing with was heinous, and if most reasonable individuals also concur that the resulting behavior has been gruesome, too, then this is actually a moment that can unite us.
People who overwhelmingly support police want the so-called “bad apples” out of the police force. Folks who stand with the men in blue would prefer that holding such a stance wasn’t made increasingly difficult by officers like the one who killed Floyd. The Black community wants justice to be served and for the country to emerge from this for the better. For the most part, reasonable people want tranquility.
There is one group, though, that doesn’t want peace. They thrive off madness, they (and not the black community) are the ones who benefit most off the looting, and their existence is dependent upon conjuring up tensions that don’t need to exist. That group is ANTIFA and the ideologues associated with them.
Again, what America is faced with here is a chance at unity. We have the chance to utilize these uncertain times as a way to unite against a common enemy in an effort to preserve freedom over mob rule and peace over crime.
ANTIFA, their cohorts, and their ideologies are our common enemy. They have stoked needless tensions in our communities and have perpetuated combativeness that never should’ve existed in the first place. We all agree: George Floyd’s death shouldn’t have happened, people shouldn’t be stealing from each other, and the last thing we need is riots spilling more American blood. So let’s do something about it, at the ballot box, certainly, but also by taking on our common enemy who threatens the values we hold dear as a country.
That way, America can achieve what we all want when the dust settles, a nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.
Elliot Fuchs is a political commentator, consultant, and writer. Follow him on twitter @Elliot_Fuchs.