Looters in Ferguson, Missouri defied President Obama and the parents of Michael Brown. The President and the parents had called for peaceful protests. This appeal to non-violence did not work.
In the summer of 1965, I lived in Southern California. The region saw the images from the KTLA TV traffic helicopter, day after day, night after night, of the arson and the looting. This was new to us. How could looting of businesses owned by residents do the cause of justice any good? It couldn’t. These were looters and arsonists, not justice-seekers.
The video of the looting of a Ferguson liquor store is typical. The owner had been victimized by Brown, who stole cigarillos. This was caught on an in-store camera. Now more thieves came out in force. Twice victimized, what was he to do?
If the owner had stood in front of his store with a shotgun, and had shot a few looters, he might have been prosecuted by the grand jury that did not vote to send the policeman to trial.
How do property owners deal with mob violence? If defenders face prosecution for defending their property, and the police and national guard fire tear gas canisters and rubber bullets, which do not slow down the looters, then both personal safety and private property are left without meaningful support.
The rioters set fires, as they always do. Loot and burn for justice! I remember the rioters’ cries in Watts in 1965: “Burn, baby, burn!” The law-abiding citizens were at the mercy of rioters.
In his great book, From Dawn to Decadence (2000), Jacques Barzun wrote that the Western state is entering a phase of contraction. Politicians have promised welfare benefits that cannot possibly be paid for. At the same time, the state can no longer protect the nation from crime. A loss of legitimacy will undermine the state.
The looters and rioters in Ferguson have sent a message: the state is impotent when it comes to protecting life and property. Yet these two protections are basic to the theoretical justification for the state’s possession of a lawful monopoly of violence. The state of Missouri visibly shares this with looters. “Sorry; there is nothing much we can do.” The looters knew this, and they acted accordingly.
There is a fundamental law of economics: “At a higher price, less is demanded.” But modern Americans have been verbally assaulted for so long by the bullies in ghettos and their accomplices in the media that law enforcement agencies are today unwilling to hike the price on violence. Result: more violence.
Push came to shove in Ferguson. The law enforcement agencies figured “better safe than sorry” for them. They tried to contain the violence, not stop it. Once again, they sent a message to citizens. It was the same message sent by the looters, “You’re on your own. Do not resist.”
In the 1992 Watts II riots — the Rodney King riots — Korean store owners got guns. They stood their ground. They had no problem.
As you watch this, listen to the concern of the off-camera media lady. She asks the on-site lady: “Does it look as though these guns are registered?” Then she asked about handguns. Handguns!
My response would have been this: “Does it look as though the looters are registered?”
The liberal media have long since castrated the majority. But not in this part of town in 1992.