Monday, June 1, 2020

How to Lose Friends and NOT Influence People

I couldn’t sleep last night because there was a police helicopter over my neighborhood until 4am and there were police sirens waking me up throughout the night. When I looked out my window, I saw two groups of people carrying clothes at 3am. Unless they were doing laundry at 3am, they were looting.
When I went to buy the newspaper this morning, I was confronted with scenes of destruction and vandalism that I haven’t seen since the 1970s.
And now I’m mad for what many would say is the wrong reason.
I’m mad because now THIS will be the topic of conversation (i.e., the looting) rather than what should be the topic of conversation (i.e., the murder of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a white cop).
President Trump couldn’t have asked for a better outcome if Steve Bannon had planned this himself.
This is not how you get people on your side.
When I saw the video of Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes (while three cops stood by and did nothing), I was justifiably horrified (as, I think, anyone who’s not a sociopath was).
But this looting has left a bad taste in my mouth.
My theory (and I will wait until I see actual evidence of this) is that a small minority of protesters from the extreme left AND the extreme right hijacked a peaceful protest to serve their own purposes: the left to sow anarchy and protest the “establishment” (whatever that vague term means) and the right to discredit the civil rights movement and those seeking justice for George Floyd. BOTH of them are wrong to do this.
I was also upset by a Facebook friend of mine who claimed he found the experience of documenting the riots that ensued Saturday night “thrilling.”
That is not the correct response.
I’m uncomfortable with what I saw as a lot of poseurs taking selfies in front of burning police vans. When I saw news footage of one protester standing on top of a police car, I was reminded of the final scene in the movie Joker: anarchy for anarchy’s sake, with the Joker (or, in this case, Trump and Republicans) gloating over it.
I was similarly disturbed by scenes of looters—none of them carrying protest signs—breaking into stores and stealing merchandise. This isn’t about finding justice for George Floyd, it’s about taking advantage of a tragedy for your own profit.
I’m concerned that Trump will use this state of affairs to try to (wrongfully) portray himself as the “law and order” candidate. This is how every Republican since Richard Nixon has won the presidency (and how Rudolph Giuliani won the mayoralty of New York City).
Conversely, by bending over backwards to justify the behavior of the looters, New York City mayor Bill DiBlasio has come across as weak. This plays right into the hands of the police department that has said he “has blood on his hands.”
The only person I’ve heard properly address this situation is the (black) mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot.
I still think Chauvin should be tried for first-degree murder (and the three other cops should be tried as accessories), but I feel uncomfortable with the response of many to this crime.

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