Rioting as Collateral Damage: In Defense of Michael Brown's Stepfather

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(Internet slang) Someone claiming to share a group's goals while deliberately working against those goals, typically, by claiming "concern" about group plans to engage in productive activity, urging members instead to attempt some activity that would damage the group's credibility, or alternatively to give up on group projects entirely.


America, as a whole, doesn't just live with violence. We embody it. As a matter of course, we kill tens of thousands of innocent people each year. The conventional wisdom being that it's 'regretful' but necessary for some greater good: fighting 'terrorism', protecting our 'national interests', fighting 'the war on drugs'. And, for the purposes of this post, I'm willing to concede as much. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that such violence leveled against entirely innocent, largely brown, people throughout the world and at home is justified because it's a necessary evil to maintain an otherwise just and peaceful world order and to not do so would cause, in some entirely speculative counterfactual, a greater evil of unrest, crack addicts, and Times Square dirty bombs. Great, fair enough, but why are these very same imperial apologists on the left who shrug every time an innocent black man is jailed for decades or a wedding party in Yemen is turned to a scattering of shrapnel and charred human flesh the first to rush and condemn incidental or tangential "violence" (property damage, in the case of Ferguson) done by those trying fight those very injustices? Why are these movements - whether they be black activists seeking to end their unperson status, Occupy working to stem the rise of inequality, or environmentalists hitting sleazy pushers of carbon where it hurts - immediately finger-wagged and highlighted and dismissed as fringe by the establishment left that ostensibly shares their broader goals. Case in point: the selling out of Louis Head this week and the pathetic, cynical non-stop "condemning" of riots by liberals seeking to affirm their moderate bona fides.

First the latter:

Not to overly editorialize but: can we all shut the fuck up already about a bunch of goddamn buildings that were all insured anyway? Does it suck for these small business owners? Yeah. Is it unfair to them? Of course. But let one thing be clear: those highlighting their suffering on both the left and the right could give two shits about them and are only doing so to cynically distract from the real issue and slander the other 99% of those peacefully attempting to affect change. And in this sense, liberals running through the motions of condemnation are only serving to carry water for this trope and are, once again, trafficking in the cheapest media commodity of them all: delegitimizing black grievance. Here we see The Daily News (a publication that has mastered the establish Democratic concern troll posture) providing a space for Eric Garner's son to insist the Grand Jury ought to indict but shrouding it in do-goody white liberal finger-wagging about an entirely hypothetical riot.


A) it's unclear why it's incumbent upon a still-grieving 18 year old kid to comment on entirely hypothetical riots in the first place


B) The sub-headline puts words in Eric Snipes' mouth and uses his moral position to slander Ferguson protesters by conflating them with violence in the sleaziest of ways:

Snipes also said that there would be no Ferguson-like protests in Staten Island. 'I think everybody knows my father wasn't a violent man and they're going to respect his memory by remaining peaceful,' he said.


Snipes didn't say "Ferguson-like" you scumbags, you did. The protests were entirely peaceful, the handful of rioters were unpeaceful; the latter took advantage of the former, they were not, of course, the same thing by definition. But to The Daily News - a paper owned by a man worth 2.5 billion dollars who goes on Colbert to insist America's wealthy are under siege - the objective is simple: calm those feisty blacks by concern trolling their outrage. The real story here is not that the Grand Jury was about to let another killer cop free, the story - to the power elite and their wholly owned-propaganda outlets - was that "peace" should be priority number one at all cost.


But peace, as Martin Luther King understood, without justice is not a virtue. It's simply violence in slow motion. And if there's one thing Michael Brown's stepfather Louis Head didn't get this week, it was justice. And if there is one fate he and other African-Americans in St Louis county are almost certainly condemned, its more police-violence. So, in a moment of candor and anger and with no remaining nonviolent means with which to appeal - he spoke directly and clearly to our power classes in their native language: violence:

The blowback, predictably was swift, bi-partisan, and entirely cheap:

Including, to the surprise of many legal experts, a potential charge of inciting of violence. The decent end of the establishment left spectrum, however, was a bit less morally smug if not equally useless. Typically a limited but healthy discussion of poverty marked by the obligatory MLK quotes:


But on this Dr. King was incomplete, if not entirely wrong. Rioting is not the language of the unheard. Protesting is the language of the unheard, rioting is the language of the deliberately and systematically silenced; the black underclass who aren't ignore, but muzzled like the chattel they once legally were. As such, Mr. Head's appeal was not a call for violence, but of self-defense. It was not an irrational act of desperation, but an entirely logical provocation meant to strike, if only for a moment, righteous fear into the heart of the power classes who have all the means in the world to change the status quo - and thus prevent more Michael Browns - but repeatedly choose not to. Why this tactic, though "regrettably" causing harm to innocents, should be roundly condemned while America's global machine of violence makes the exact same calculation at far greater scale and for a far more cynical purposes, is entirely lost on me. The left should stop condemning riots and instead start calling them what they are: the collateral damage of reform.

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