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Purging Baltimore

Mere anarchy in the dis-United States

Parts of Baltimore are consumed by rioting. From the Baltimore Sun:

Councilman Brandon Scott called on adults to bring Baltimore back to order.

“We can cannot stand idle and let cowards ruin our city,” he said. “If you are an adult and you are out there participating in this, you are ruining the future for these young people.

“We cannot let this be a repeat of 1968,” when riots broke out after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. “The neighborhood they’re in right now is still burned down from 1968.”

More, from Twitter:



He’s talking about Baltimore, specifically, and the Dos Passos reference refers to the novelist’s view, stated in the 1920s, that America was a place where the rich lived in one reality, and the poor lived in another. But I think Teachout’s point goes much deeper, and involves more nations than two within the United States.

What holds us together, or could hold us together? One might have said once upon a time that Christianity did — that’s what Tocqueville saw — and later, one might have said civic religion (generic Christianity + “Americanism”). These were ideals we held in common, and they served as shared ideals toward which we strove, despite our imperfections and failings.

Now, though? What is the common thread? What is the tie that binds us to our home? What is the law that rules our hearts? It is mere anarchy; the Baltimore rioters are only farther along the line of logic than the rest of the country is. They’re destroying their city because of lawlessness in their hearts, but the rest of us are destroying the basis for self-governance and order in our polis too. It’s all going, going … because in America, freedom is always the winning mantra.

UPDATE: Reading the comments this morning, it appears that more than a few readers think I’m defending the Baltimore police, and police brutality. I’m not. Contempt for the law breeds contempt for the law. What I’m saying is that this contempt for the law is a lot more widespread in our society than among Baltimore cops and Baltimore rioters.



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