Home/Rod Dreher/The Democrats’ Riots

The Democrats’ Riots

A flag flies in front of a department of corrections building after it was set ablaze during a second night of rioting in Kenosha (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Well, well, well, look what The New York Times finds in Kenosha:

Mr. Geraghty, a former Marine, said he was disturbed to see his town looking like “a war zone,” and he feared that the Democrats in charge were “letting people down big time.”

Politics for him had long been like a sport he did not follow. In his late 20s, he voted for Barack Obama, the first vote of his life. He did not vote in 2016, and he called the president’s handling of the coronavirus “laughable.”

Mr. Geraghty said he disliked how Mr. Trump talked but said the Democratic Party’s vision for governing seemed limited to attacking him and calling him a racist, a charge being leveled so constantly that it was having the effect of alienating, instead of persuading, people. And the idea that Democrats alone were morally pure on race annoyed him.

“The Democratic agenda to me right now is America is systematically racist and evil and the only people who can fix it are Democrats,” he said. “That’s the vibe I get.”

Mr. Geraghty said he understood peaceful protesting but felt frustrated with Democratic leaders who seem afraid of confronting crowds when things turn violent. He was angry at the statement by Gov. Tony Evers on Sunday, which in his view took sides against the police in a knee-jerk way that worsened the situation.

More:

Scott Haight, who was boarding up a line of businesses in a Kenosha strip mall on Tuesday, said he blamed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat, for what he said was irresponsibly stirring up emotion. (On Monday, Mr. Barnes said the shooting “wasn’t an accident.”)

“It’s like ‘What, are you trying to burn our city down?’” Mr. Haight said.

Mr. Haight, 59, said he was a “lifelong Democrat” but had decided not to vote this year.

“It’s not worth it,” he said. “One’s as bad as the other.”

Priscella Gazda, a waitress at a pizza restaurant in Kenosha, was having the opposite reaction. She said she had voted only once in her life — for Mr. Obama in 2008. Her son has Type 1 diabetes and was hoping for health insurance.

“I’m not the one who would ever vote,” she said.

But after the chaos in her town, this year is different.

“I am going to vote for Trump,” she said. “He seems to be more about the American people and what we need.”

Read it all. It’s an important developing political story. The story notes that Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned both police brutality and the rioting. Democrats don’t want to hear this, but people know that the Democrats are wobbly on this stuff.

In the Jacob Blake story, Wisconsin Department of Justice officials confirmed today that Blake had a knife in his minivan. This is almost certainly why the Kenosha cop shot Blake. According to the police scanner audio, a resident called 911 and complained that Blake was at her house, and she didn’t want him to be. Police dispatch advised the officers headed to the scene that there was a warrant out for Blake’s arrest. They knew they were going to be dealing with a troubled guy.

Many of us have seen the original video, in which an officer shot Blake in the back as Blake was reaching into his minivan. What you might not have seen is the video taken of the scene from a different angle, in the moments before the shooting, showing officers on the other side of the van struggling physically to subdue Blake.

What we can deduce from that is that Blake strenuously resisted arrest. We saw him defy police with guns drawn, to walk around his van, open the door, and presumably start fishing for something. That’s when the officer shot him. We don’t know if Blake put his hands on the knife, or if the officers knew that he had a weapon.

Police officers are trained not to take that chance. For all that cop knew, he was going for a gun. This video of cops being shot shows why you cannot let suspects who are resisting arrest reach inside a car. 

Still, the officer might have done wrong in shooting Blake. We just don’t know yet. We await the investigation’s results. The video of the cop shooting Blake is genuinely horrifying — but we cannot make a determination about the nature, legally, from the video alone.

The rioting and looting, though — that we can judge. It is not justified. Ever.

Nor, by the way, is it justified that right-wing people looking for trouble should have headed to Kenosha with their guns. I completely stand with armed citizens defending businesses and property. But people like this Kyle Rittenhouse kid, driving in from Illinois looking for adventure? No. Turns out that he’s a kid who loves the police, and took it upon himself to drive to Kenosha to police the situation. And now two people are dead, allegedly at his hand, and Rittenhouse, if convicted, will go to prison for a long time. Here’s a short clip of an interview with Rittenhouse before the shooting started:

Just a kid. A kid with a gun. A kid who had no business there, and who has ruined his life, and the lives of others. That said, we do not yet know if Rittenhouse’s shooting these people was self-defense. The video indicates that the last two people he shot were attacking him. The head shot, though — the first person he supposedly shot — we don’t know details there. What we do know is that he did not need to be in Kenosha.

And we know that none of this would be happening if the protests were peaceful. If people would not smash and burn. And though the Kyle Rittenhouses of the world are making this situation worse, nobody is afraid that the Kyle Rittenhouses are going to smash their windows or burn down their businesses.

The best most Democrats seem to be able to do on this is equivocate. As you can see from the Times story, the people in Kenosha they’re quoting are not big Trumpers at all. They’re just ordinary people who are understandably scared of the disorder — and if they don’t associate it with the Democratic Party, then they at least understand that the Democrats cannot be counted on to stand against it. The Dems have thrown their lot in so completely with Black Lives Matter protesters that many voters just cannot trust them to hold the line against rioting. As Geraghty told the Times, all the Democrats do is call people racist.

Tonight, this is happening in Minneapolis:

Why? From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Hundreds descended into the heart of downtown Minneapolis Wednesday night to decry the death of a man who killed himself on Nicollet Mall as police closed in on him, sparking unrest and property damage along the corridor.

Police almost immediately shared surveillance video of the suicide, but it did little to calm the crowds who broke windows at retail stores, restaurants, bars and coffee shops, prompting Mayor Jacob Frey to request assistance from the Minnesota National Guard and State Patrol. At a late evening news conference, Frey and Chief Medaria Arradondo stressed the man killed himself earlier in the day and that it was not an “officer-involved shooting.”

These mobs don’t care. They just want to tear things up and steal things that do not belong to them.

This is a Democrat-run city in a Democrat-run state. People have eyes to see. They know these aren’t Trump voters sacking and pillaging. “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” said Vice President Pence in his convention speech tonight. That’s going to be the message from here till November. Democrats can complain about the unfairness of this, but the video of these riots tell another story to the people watching.

Finally tonight, the L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers have voted to boycott the rest of the NBA season to protest the Blake shooting. (If Blake had been a Uighur, hey, game on!) The whole sports world is starting to freak out over this. 

Here is an interview from earlier this week in which someone named Ethan Strauss tried to explain to a Slate.com journalist why the NBA is killing itself, its TV ratings collapsing. Excerpts (the reporter’s questions are in bold):

If you look at Gallup surveys, the NBA doesn’t appear to be declining in popularity. If you look at “What is your favorite sport to watch?” it’s been flat over the last 15 years. If you look at people saying whether they’re a fan of that sport or not, interest in the NBA has gone up in recent years. So if Occam’s razor is that the NBA is declining in popularity domestically, then how do you explain the fact that on this metric of literally whether the NBA is more or less popular, it seems to either be flat or increasingly popular?

Is the metric what you do with your remote control, or is the metric what you say to Gallup? I mean, I think the quick and dirty measurement is whether you’re willing to watch the sport.

I mean, they’re down nearly half their viewership. Like, what are we doing? Why are we avoiding this? That’s what I don’t understand. Why are we avoiding this? You lost nearly half your audience in eight years. We’re going to talk about a Gallup survey. That just seems kind of ridiculous to me.

More:

You mentioned some theories in your most recent piece about why ratings could be down. And you said the thorniest one is “the political component.” The theory is that some segment of viewers might be turned off because of things players say off the court, or the social justice messages on their jerseys. The fact that they’re not talking about China when they’re talking about Black Lives Matter. What is the argument, or what is the evidence, that this is causing a decline in viewership?

I think it’s completely obvious to people who aren’t in the bubble. You have your most precipitous drop this last year after [the NBA’s response to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s comments about] China. I mean an absolute free fall, where you’re losing double digits on the national ratings, double digits on the local ratings. And yeah, maybe you’re never going to be able to prove it to a T that it had something to with China, but that is when the NBA is hitting the news for people who are not necessarily completely engaged. And I think that when you talk to a lot of people who aren’t within media, people maybe where their politics don’t line up 100 percent with what’s being evinced, yeah, a lot of people are turned off by it.

I think that it doesn’t take a lot of imagination, really. I feel like I’m being put in the position in a way of just explaining the obvious, that gravity exists. And I guess I would say to you, why wouldn’t it have an impact?

Read it all. It’s just incredible to read that interview and to see how hard the Slate reporter strains not to see the bleeding obvious — no matter how hard Ethan Strauss tries to explain it to him. We’re going to see the same thing with a lot of media and Democrats on rioting this fall, if this keeps up. It’s a very difficult thing for Joe Biden to handle. Pence was wrong in his speech tonight; Joe Biden did condemn the Kenosha rioting, as he also defended the right to protest against police brutality. Nevertheless, when buildings are on fire, many voters don’t want to hear “on the one hand, on the other hand” from the man who wants to be US president.

We should consider, though, what will happen after the election. Whether it’s four more years of Trump, or four years of Biden, who, if anyone, and what, if anything, can bind up the wounds of this country — most of them self-inflicted?

UPDATE: This is a perfect example of the liberal media absurdly trying to manage the story. CNN did it in Minneapolis too:


On the other hand:

UPDATE.2: Good morning. No hurricane damage here at TAC’s Baton Rouge bureau. I’m seeing information this morning saying that the Rittenhouse kid might have been legitimately defending himself on the streets of Kenosha. The shootings that we have clearly on video indicate that he was being attacked by these two, whom he shot:

Both of those might be legitimate self-defense shots — we don’t know yet. As for the guy he allegedly shot in the head, we don’t yet know the precise circumstances under which he was shot. This is the first I’ve heard that he was chasing Rittenhouse, and threw something at him:

It may be the case that Rittenhouse will be found legally not guilty for any or all of these shootings. What is clear, though, is that this 17 year old from the next door state had no business in Kenosha that night. And none of his three alleged victims had any business on the streets that night either.

UPDATE.3:The New York Times analyzed various clips tracking Rittenhouse’s movements that night in Kenosha. It seems like a strong case for self-defense, though as usual, video evidence is not dispositive.

I feel so strongly about this situation with Rittenhouse because I have a son who is about his age, and it shakes me up to imagine him going to such an event with a heavy weapon, looking for action. If it’s defending your own property, or your friends’ and family’s property, in your own town from the mob, that’s one thing. But again, this boy had no business there, even if he meant well. And how does a 17-year-old come to possess an AR-15? He lived with his single mom. Did she buy it for him? Understand, even if all these shootings are ultimately adjudicated as legitimate self-defense, Kyle Rittenhouse will still have to go through a long legal process, and he will spend the rest of his life knowing that (if guilty) he shot and killed two men. That’s a hell of a burden to carry with you for the rest of your life. At 17. And for what? So he could play militia?

A  small-town police chief friend of mine, himself a conservative, complains that conservatives with guns who show up to these things offering to help are making tense situations much worse.

 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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