Riots and Morality (Updated)

In all of the commentary on Ferguson, Missouri and now Baltimore, Maryland there’s something missing. When Person A injures Person B as a protest over the actions of Person C, it is immoral. Person A is treating Person B as an object rather than a person. A means to an end rather than an end. The riots going on in Baltimore are both illegal and immoral and commenters on the events should avoid trying to justify it.

If the people of Baltimore have objections against the Baltimore police that cannot be addressed through ordinary government channels, they might be storming the police stations or bombing city hall. When instead they are robbing convenience stores or looting appliance stores, attempts to justify their actions are misplaced.


The president strikes what I think is essentially the right tone in commenting on the riots in Baltimore:

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama on Tuesday condemned the “criminals and thugs who tore up” the city of Baltimore on Monday night, after rioting and looting paralyzed the city and overwhelmed local officials.

The sustained outbreak of violence followed the funeral for Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died after he was arrested more than two weeks ago. Cars were set on fire, stores were destroyed, and six officers were seriously injured. It was the first time Obama has commented on the turmoil in Baltimore that has followed Gray’s death.

“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday. It is counterproductive,” Obama said at a press conference from the White House. “When individuals get crowbars and start prying open doors to loot, they’re not protesting. They’re not making a statement. They’re stealing. When they burn down a building, they’re committing arson. And they’re destroying and undermining businesses and opportunities in their own communities. That robs jobs and opportunity from people in that area.”

Those who make excuses for the rioters and looters or conjoin the issues of the riots and police misconduct shouldn’t mislead themselves. They aren’t holding up the progressive side. They’re holding up the anarchist-hooliganism side.

16 comments… add one
  • CStanley Link

    Completely agree but I’d add that there is a tragic lack of leadership. The individual rioters and looters bear responsibility for their immoral actions but when there is mob behavior it’s incumbent on leaders to take control (and if they’d been exercising their responsibilities all along then the mobs would never have formed.)

    I don’t know all the details but my impression is that the investigation into this latest death was proceeding, but perhaps too slowly. Why haven’t black leaders stepped up to keep the pressure on, and to urge patience from the community while assuring them that they’ll seek a just conclusion?

    That is a rhetorical question, of course.

  • Guarneri Link

    I swear I could hear the chants of the aggrieved on TV….

    “What do we want?!” “Justice!!”

    “How do we get it?” “Burn and loot the CVS!!”

  • jan Link

    What got to me was the Mayor’s initial comments telling the police to give protesters “the space to destroy.” In the aftermath of the protesters, who were followed by rioters, that’s exactly what the police did — pull back and let businesses be looted and burned. Maybe this was a misspeak on the part of that mayor. But, I doubt she will come out and admit it.

    Much like Ray Nagin’s inept and slow response, in emptying out New Orleans during the Katrina storm, this mayor seems to be more a part of the ensuing problems rather than voicing timely and preventative solutions. However, it will be the police who will be blamed for not doing more. And, again the WH is providing the same responses it did during Ferguson, sending representatives to the funeral and giving supportive phone calls by the president himself to the Baltimore mayor. What will be telling is how the new head of the DOJ, Lynch, will conduct her own oversight and investigation into this matter.

  • TastyBits Link

    … attempts to justify their actions are misplaced.

    Actually, they are setting up the predicate to the eventual argument. At some point, it is going to become undeniable that looting within the black community is tolerated, and there will need to be a ready made reason. Hence, the excuses being made today.

    The problem with the excuses is that most of the excusers do not live in Baltimore, and they have never lived, worked, or visited poor black communities/neighborhoods.

    (White liberals make me laugh. Their anti-racism goes out the window whenever they have to go anywhere there are too many black people. If a gas station has too many black faces, they will suddenly not need any gas, and if I am driving, I will go to the blackest areas I can find.)

    What I know of the poor black areas of New Orleans is out-of-date, but I doubt much has changed. Most of the people are not rioters or looters, but many of them are frustrated with the system. They cannot get away from the rioters/looters by moving to a new neighborhood. They are trapped in the tarpit created directly by the War on Poverty and indirectly by the War on Drugs.

    (The problem with the War on Drugs is that it is a money making scheme for many police, sheriff, and cities.)

    There is a video of a black woman dragging her son out of the rioting/looting. This is more inline with my experience. In many of the households, there is no man, and to the degree that the female head of the family can exert control, she will. Also, many of the households will included extended family – grandmothers, aunts, etc.

    Strong males are needed to impose discipline and structure. Being a role model is a secondary function, and without the first, it cannot occur. All young males are rebellious, but with the easy access to the criminal elements, young black males are more susceptible to its lure. A time-out, a stern talking-to, or any other of today’s disciplinary techniques is not going to work.

    I kinda wandered from the original point. There is no excuse for rioting and looting. A lot of people in the community are not rioters or looters, but the good folks must live with rioters and looters among them. Today’s rioters and looters are tomorrow’s gangbangers and drug dealers.

    I have spent too much time on this, but I was going to expand upon the lack of strong males in the family unit. The negative behaviors produce positive results – feedback loops. It all feeds upon itself, and similar to starvation, the body starts to consume itself to survive.

  • jan Link


    When I briefly worked as a public health nurse my experiences in poor black neighborhoods were far from what we see on TV today. The people were warm, honest, hard working, religious and more generous in their hospitality than “white” people. I found greater comfort there, oftentimes, than in my own neighborhood. So, I can relate to your post above.

    Black culture has simply been exploited and then stymied by liberal enablers, who don’t really enact policies to make true equality and fairness a reality. Instead they extol the justice of dependency and bad behavior as a way of doing penance for the past, I guess.

    BTW, nice to see your post. They’ve been missed.

  • In preemptive answer to a complaint that nobody is excusing the looters. Yes, they are. So far every condemnation of the looters and rioters I’ve read has been accompanied by a “but” or “however”. Those negate the condemnation. There must be no “buts” or “howevers”.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Meanwhile, crime in St. Louis continues to increase. Robberies are up 52% from last year at this time and aggravated assaults with a gun are up 59%. Criminals appear to be more likely to challenge police after the nearby events in Ferguson. The Chief of Police says that alderman and residents want more cops in their neighborhoods. A few months ago, a group of minority teens beat a Bosnian immigrant to death with a hammer, resulting in protests that the police are not protecting the 70,000 or so Bosnians living in the Bevo Mill neighborhood. For the most part though, crime is increasing in the same African-American neighborhoods, though I’ve anecdotally been told that part of the issue is crimes increasingly happening in daytime. Commuters read about a violent crime at 6 or 7 in the evening that used to be something that would happen at 1 or 2 at night when they were long gone. The context was increased working from home.

  • ... Link

    In Baltimore, the protests & riots are related, but have different leaders. If police are to be believed (and that’s a big if, even with fbi backing), the riots are being led by street gangs working in concert. Freddie Gray’s murder (yes, I’m editorializing) is providing an excuse for Balmer’s nastiest people to be barbarians on a raiding foray. From what I’m seeing & reading, there is more leadership of the ‘mob’ than was seen in Ferguson.

    Incidentally, I saw at least two interviews with men on the streets of Baltimore where they themselves stated that the looters & rioters didn’t care about Gray’s death, echoing comments from one of the city councilmen.

    To me, this looks like a gang problem run amok.

  • In this post I was reacting to the obviously wrongheaded remarks I’ve seen in the media and in the blogosphere, epitomized by the comments threads of the OTB posts on the subject.

  • ... Link

    The president strikes what I think is essentially the right tone in commenting on the riots in Baltimore:

    Yeah, but the President didn’t stop there. He went on to blame the police, society, and poverty as the root causes for black people rioting.

    Fuck him. He makes comments such as

    Let’s not pretend the path from poverty like the one I traveled is still available to everyone out there as long as they work hard.

    Really? Did he really just say that? What path form poverty did he walk? Raised by fucking bankers (who are in fact the most evil people in the history of humanity) in fucking Hawaii. What path is he talking about? What kind of unmitigated gall does it take for him to make such astoundingly dishonest statements? “Oh, I was so poor, that I went to a private preparatory school for several years before being forced to go to Occidental College, Columbia University & Harvard Law School. Can you imagine, not getting to go to Harvard for all my schooling? I feel faint just thinking about it!”

    And when he makes comments like

    In communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men; communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing has been stripped away; and drugs have flooded the community, and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a whole lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we’re just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without as a nation and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities, to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we’re not going to solve this problem.

    Uh, wait a minute. Hasn’t he been President for the last 6+ years? Wasn’t he a Senator before that for about four years? He’s acting like he’s been out of power, unable to do anything, when he’s been the most powerful man in the country for over SIX FUCKING YEARS. It’s utterly dishonest, the tone he set today, as were many of the specifics. If he were really concerned about the loss of manufacturing jobs, he wouldn’t support the goddamn policies that make certain those jobs keep going overseas & can never come back. If he were concern about poverty, he wouldn’t be pushing for importing a hundred million more goddamn Third World peasants into the country to suppress wages.

    He’s a liar, and a bad one. He’s spent the last six years making certain that guys like Warren Buffet, George Soros and the rest of the super-rich DOUBLED their fucking wealth, while food stamp usage practically doubled, too. Winning! And NOW he wants to be the champion of the poor?

    Fuck him.

    I know that he isn’t doing a goddamned thing for poor people, not even those poor black people that he claims to love*, because I’m living the fucking dream. I’m here in the hood, Barry, not on some estate in Hawaii, not in the Hamptons, not on some private golf course, and not in the fucking White House. I don’t see your skinny ‘black’* ass anywhere. I DO hear about you spending time with the rich and powerful. When was the last time YOU walked down a street like mine? Or down a street like 26th in Baltimore? Walking down it with a Secret Service detail doesn’t count. When was the last time you were among the people?

    Seriously, how does he not get called for his blatant lies?

    * Note that he’s going to retire to Hawaii to be surrounded by all the brothers and sisters. Oh, wait, Hawaii is less black than Iowa, and just a little more black than the Whitopia of New Hampshire. Oh well, I’m sure he’ll be thinking of all those wretched poor black masses while kicking it in Robin Master’s estate.

  • TastyBits Link


    I get what you are saying, but you are pissing in the wind. Neither party cares about anything that goes against it or that deviates from their talking points. While it is closer to reality, what you have laid out is full of landmines and traps for either of them to admit as reality.

    Both sides have insulated themselves from the harsh realities through segregation. Then, they build a world from their imagination, and they populate it with the poor. Depending upon which side you talk to will determine which fantasy you hear, but they are equally out-of-touch with reality.

    Through circumstances you were thrown into a place where you can see some of that harsh reality. It looks like your wife also has insight into the harsh reality of the school system, and her opinion is not wanted either.

  • TastyBits Link


    I have seen the “12% Rule” which states that white people never go anywhere with more than 12% black people. I would change it to the 2% Rule. At 12%, white people have been leaving since 2%. White liberals may be willing to go as high as 6%, but even there, they will only tolerate the right kind of black person.

    I rag on white liberals about being racist or racial, but I think they are really elitists or snobs (snotwads). They do not like the lower classes, and it is easy to dismiss lower class white people as white/trailer trash. In the case of black (or brown) people, it is not so easy. In reality, there is black (and brown) trash, and they are no different than their white counterparts.

    I have seen a lot of black homes where a white person is always treated as a guest. I have seen something similar. When I was young, my grandparents would take me to visit people back “in the country”, and they were poor and white.

    I was always the “city boy” or “from the city”. They would kill themselves to make sure I got the best of everything. I had to have a real glass instead of a jelly jar, and I got to sit on a chair or the sofa. “He’s not used to living in the country.”

    I think a lot of people are sensitive about how they live when somebody they perceive as their “betters” comes around. For poor people, it could be rich people. For country people, it could be city people. For small town people, it could be big city people. For black people, it could be white people. In many instances, it is probably a combination.

    BTW, nice to see your post. They’ve been missed.

    I have a lot going on, and I do not have a lot of time. Besides, I am tired of tilting at windmills. I have a difficult time understanding this world.

    If you, anybody you know, or anybody reading this knows a US veteran, you should tell them that they are eligible to use the VA medical system. They will not qualify for benefits, but their insurance may allow them to go to the VA. Vets on Medicare can use the system. With private insurance, it is not all or nothing.

    For some of us, it is our thing. It is hard to explain, but it is a place where vets help vets. I know that somebody has my back, and if I fall, somebody will help me. If a vet you know is struggling, he might find it is one place where “things just make sense”.

  • ... Link

    As for the school system, my wife is a softie compared to me.

    As for the rest: Yeah, I realizing they’re hiding from reality as a matter of self-preservation. But honest to God, can’t someone with a megaphone call them out on some of their bullshit? What is this crap from Obama, acting like he’s had no power to do anything, and especially this talk that he grew up a poor black man that made good? That last is a blatant lie, and everyone who knows anything about his bio KNOWS that. It’s not some deep dark secret like his fucking college transcripts.

    Obama’s doing the same thing Biden did, by plagiarizing someone else’s biography. But it’s buried in verbiage. (Go look up his comments on the WH website from yesterday – it was his joint press conference with PM Abe.) Unseemly doesn’t begin to describe it.

  • In reality, there is black (and brown) trash, and they are no different than their white counterparts.

    That’s a fact about which I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. The reality as I perceive it is that black people in the lower two income quintiles have more in common with white people in the lower two income quintiles than black people in the lower two income quintiles have in common with black people in the upper income decile and similarly with white folks. Who benefits by their not making common cause? People of any race in the top income decile.

  • It’s not some deep dark secret like his fucking college transcripts

    That’s something else about which I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. It’s not just President Obama. It’s him and Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. Their SATs and college transcripts are being treated as state secrets. Don’t tell me Bill Clinton was a Rhodes scholar. I have high school and college classmates who were Rhodes scholars. They’re politicians not scholars.

    I attribute it to the bizarre fact that Democrats seem to demand that their leaders be brilliant when the facts are that they’re pretty typical members of the professional class, not stupid but not incredibly bright, either.

  • ... Link

    I personally believe that Obama’s transcripts hide something other than his grades.

    CAVEAT: I believe that Obama was, in fact, born in Hawaii. Ignore the birth certificate. I’ve seen supporting evidence that his mother was in Hawaii not too long before his birth, and not too long after his birth. The idea that a 19 y/o would travel alone from Hawaii to Kenya (while very pregnant) and back (with a brand new child) in that time frame seems ludicrous to me in the world of 1961. Additionally, I don’t care if Obama WAS born in Kenya. He came out of an American citizens womb, and it doesn’t get more “natural citizen” than that to me.

    Caveat added.

    Now remember when his writer’s bio from his early publisher came out a few years ago? The one that stated Obama was born in Kenya? The one that made him seem more exotic for sales purposes?

    Yeah, that. Did anyone really buy the idea that some editor had done that without checking with Obama first? Of course they had. Obama knew what was being claimed and was okay with it. It made him look better for marketing purposes.

    Now, when he was submitting applications to college, do you think it possible that he put down that he was Kenyan born, in order to get a leg up on all the other AA applicants while submitting to such places as Occidental, Columbia & Harvard?

    I’ve suspected since then that somewhere in Obama’s college transcripts is a claim made by Obama that he was born in Kenya, and that fact would be a bit embarrassing at later points in time. He’d have to admit to being a liar at some point, and they never, ever do that.

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