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The Self-Defeating Voice of the Riot

Rioting is not only futile but counterproductive. MLK knew this, so why haven’t today’s radicals figured it out?

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The surrealism of emerging from one crisis only to wake up and find another at your doorstep is beginning to set in on Americans. One would be hard-pressed to find a cable news station not running endless footage of mayhem and madness as riots spring up in urban centers across America. As usual, the American media provides plenty of news about the events, but very little in the way of explanation. Americans are right to dig deeper for answers. But if past is any indication, these riots will end in little more than loud and angry voices – resulting in self-defeat.

MLK Said It Best

The establishment media loves to quote Martin Luther King at such a time as this. Leftists generally fall back on the infamous civil rights leader’s statement: “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Today’s race rioters and those who join them in burning and looting are unable to understand that this was an observation by King, not advice. How do we know this? Because King also said: “The limitations of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat.”

In a 1966 interview, he added another element to this refrain when he said, “Riots are self-defeating and socially destructive.”

What did Dr. King know that today’s neo-Marxists have not yet been able to grasp? King was an intelligent man, a thinker who read history and understood consequences. If the purpose of a riot is to bring about change, King could find no evidence of it, and neither can we. Here is an example:

“On a steamy evening in late June, a fistfight broke out between black and white young men at an amusement park called Belle Isle. The fighting quickly grew in scope and intensity. The violence escalated when rumors about violence against white and black women circulated, and both whites and blacks engaged in retaliatory attacks. Homes and businesses were burned and looted and people were beaten and shot. The fighting raged for three days, and 6,000 U.S. Army troops were brought in. Twenty-five black people and nine whites were killed. About 700 were injured.”

This quote, taken from Infoplease.com, is the story of a Detroit race riot that occurred in 1943. One would have to be a “lunatic on the order of a poached egg” – as C.S. Lewis once opined – to believe that things have changed for the better in Detroit.

Then there was Watts – the great race riot held in a predominantly black suburb of Los Angeles in 1965. It was big. It was bad. And it resulted in … nothing. Today, Watts is still an area filled with poverty and crime; only it is now primarily Hispanic. In 1967, race riots erupted in Newark, New Jersey, that left “26 dead, 275 injured and 1,500 arrested” – not to mention the property damage that totaled more than $10 million.

All this civil unrest led to the largest of all race riots after Dr. King was killed in 1968. Rioting and looting swept like a storm through the cities of Baltimore, Chicago, and the District of Columbia, to name a few. The National Guard came out in full force. People were killed, millions of dollars of property damage resulted. Once again, the rioting led to nothing but destruction.

Vanity Thy Name Is Riot

George Floyd

The evidence is beginning to show that the riots going on right now aren’t actually about racial justice. Many of the rioters shown in videos are from Antifa, a group of far-left anti-capitalists, Marxists, and anarchists (even though they call themselves anti-fascists), many of whom came from out of town just for the looting and the destruction. One must conclude that what began as a protest resulting from the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis is rapidly morphing into an opportunity for radical socialists to engage in nothing more than a feel-good moment of vanity. But, “Vanity,” as French novelist George Sand wrote, “is the quicksand of reason.” As such, conceit and a need for self-importance are what burns in the hearts of these people setting these cities on fire.

These riots will only serve to stir up the bad blood between the black community and the police. It is entirely possible – if not probable – that the civil unrest we are witnessing will result in more rather than fewer people dying like George Floyd. For, in the end, the lawlessness and violence of riots only increase tensions between police and the communities they are supposed to serve.

Once again, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may have said it best: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Leesa Donner

Leesa K. Donner is Editor-in-Chief of LibertyNation.com and LNGenZ.com. A widely published columnist, Leesa previously worked in the broadcast news industry as a television news anchor, reporter, and producer at NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates in Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC. She is the author of “Free At Last: A Life-Changing Journey through the Gospel of Luke.”

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