Bothered By Looters? Which Ones?
April 29, 2015

Hell, yes. From a powerful column by Lonnae O'Neal in today's Washington Post:

Seventy years ago, Harper points out, Langston Hughes’s character Simple threw bricks through store windows during the 1943 Harlem riots — caused by a white policeman shooting a black soldier. When Simple was challenged about using violence, he explained: “That is the way the Allies got [justice] — breaking up Germany, breaking up Hiroshima, and everything in sight.”

Harper also pointed out that Arthur Schlesinger Jr., in his book “Violence: America in the Sixties,” writes: “Violence, for better or worse, does settle some questions, and for the better. Violence secured American independence, freed the slaves, and stopped Hitler.”

Wrote Harper: “I am not recommending violence, but it is ludicrous for anyone familiar with American history to condemn violence as a justifiable means to achieve justice when the powers that rule are unwilling to listen to reason.”

The professor noted that Simple didn’t loot. “PLEASE recognize the difference between opportunistic looters and genuinely frustrated protesters and rioters,” Harper wrote.

Question: Who thinks looting is bad?

Raise your hand if you know what happened to the Wall Street types who broke into the American economy, exploited every financial loophole, melted down mortgages, made off with people’s retirement funds, leaving taxpayers to bail them out in 2008.

Question: Do those billions constitute opportunistic looting?

Follow-up question: Do you think people in the inner city don’t notice what some of those folks ran out of the store with?

Raise your hand if you think the people streaming through the streets of Baltimore are thugs.

If so, question, and this is just an aside, then what word will some pundits use for Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman when he gets to bragging?

Raise your hand if you remember the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen to protest corrupt leaders, poverty, lack of jobs and systems that brutalize citizens, leaving them feeling unheard.

Nod if you understand that while we convene grand juries, open federal investigations and debate police rights and wrongs, sometimes the human condition spills beyond that debate.

And if you understand, deeply, that at some point, every pressurized system demands a release. Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, South Carolina, Sanford and Baltimore. Keep nodding.

Raise your hand if you think some might just call this the Urban Spring.

Matter of fact, holler if you hear me.

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