Pro-Trump protesters can be thieves, too
“Protesters? Sorry, they look like looters to me.”
That was how I responded last summer when a Black Lives Matter organizer tried to justify a brutal rampage of thievery and vandalism through downtown Chicago’s ritziest shopping district as a protest against police brutality.
And that’s how I feel now about the angry tide of President Donald Trump’s supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, a rampage of broken windows and pilfering that resulted in five deaths, numerous injuries and the most damage to the Capitol since the War of 1812, when British invaders set it afire.
Yet, even as the chaos was lighting up video screens around the globe, emails and tweets began to stream into my smartphone from Trumpists and other anger addicts to remind me of violent episodes last summer committed by BLM and Antifa.
Note to my friends on the left: Beware the hazards of forming new-wave “leaderless resistance” movements without media spokespeople. It leaves you vulnerable to any doofus who claims to speak for you, including those who aim to speak against you.
Sure enough, before the sun went down, internet conspiracy theories were churning up on social media to blame the Capitol Hill mayhem on Antifa activists disguised in MAGA hats.
By then, my email and newsfeed were percolating with a new what-aboutism: What about last summer’s Black Lives Matter and Antifa violence?
Among other pundits, radio right-winger Rush Limbaugh sarcastically remarked the next day, “So you can set fire to a downtown strip of any blue state city — Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, New York — and it’s called a peaceful protest. But you dare not set foot where the political class lives and works and does its job.”
Excuse me? Sorry, Rush. With all due respect to your lung cancer diagnosis (keep up the good fight, fella!), violence by one side does not justify or excuse violence — regardless of which side you’re on.
But the Anger Industrial Complex, which some also have called the Outrage Industrial Complex, doesn’t allow enough airtime in our public discourse for such simple logic.