BUT THAT’S OKAY WHEN YOUR POLITICAL STRATEGY INVOLVES KEEPING THE DISADVANTAGED DISADVANTAGED: Michael Barone: As in the 1960s, violent rioting hurts the most disadvantaged.
“America is burning. But that’s how flowers grow.” So spoke Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
“Riots are an integral part of the country’s march toward progress.” So read a statement from the Democratic Committee of Fairfax County, Virginia, the affluent Washington suburb that has a population of 1 million.
“Please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful,” asked CNN’s Chris Cuomo. He’s apparently been too busy interviewing his brother, the governor of New York, to reread the First Amendment, which protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”
I take a different view. I know how violent rioting, and that’s what we’ve been seeing, despite media attempts at hiding it, can destroy a city and ruin the lives of its residents. In the summer of 1967, I was an intern in the office of the mayor of Detroit when the city suffered a six-day riot in which 43 people died. I was at the mayor’s side in the so-called command center as radio calls came soon after nightfall. Police were abandoning 1 square mile after another.
The riot finally ended after some 12,000 federal and federalized national guard troops restored order. But most of Detroit has still never fully recovered. You can still see the abandoned commercial structures and the residential streets with burned-out houses and hauntingly empty lots.
Downtown and adjacent areas have enjoyed a revival, which I hope will continue. But the lesson is clear. Violent riots destroy people’s willingness to invest their lives and money in a city. Those most harmed are those who start off the most disadvantaged. Violence and crime are a confiscatory tax on what people would otherwise earn and accumulate over a lifetime.