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The Good Old Days When Conservatives Understood Riots And Looting

On April 11, 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld applauded the looting in Iraq, because freedom!

In his infamous press conference where he claimed Iraqis would view Americans as "liberators", Donald Rumsfeld dismissed concerns over looting in Baghdad as the painful birth of freedom. Remember this when you hear all the pearl-clutching on the cable networks about those bad looters.

"The task we've got ahead of us now is an awkward one ... It's untidy. And freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here," Rumsfeld said.

"And for suddenly the biggest problem in the world to be looting is really notable."

Rumsfeld said he believes time will take care of the problem in Baghdad, as it seems to have in the southern cities of Umm Qasr and Basra, where looting has largely abated and the streets are back under relative control.

In Qatar on Friday, U.S. military officials said U.S. forces do not intend to crack down on looting in Iraq because it might alienate the Iraqi people they are trying to win over.

See, they don't care about winning anyone over here. But Rummy went on to note that looters were targeting the places symbolizing their oppression under Saddam Hussein, just like Baltimore looters targeted a check cashing business that profited from residents' poverty.

CSPAN's clip tool wasn't working, so start at 7:05 in the video above to see him explain why it's completely understandable that Iraqis would be looting in Baghdad.

"While no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression and people who have had members of their family killed by that regime, for them to be taking their feelings out on that regime," he said. "And I don't think there's anyone in any of those pictures ... (who wouldn't) accept it as part of the price of getting from a repressed regime to freedom."

Rumsfeld said in the United States there has been looting and riots and they eventually come under control.

"Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots and problems and looting. Stuff happens!"


Rumsfeld, of course, was talking about Iraq. Today, life expectancy in 17 Baltimore neighborhoods, including Freddie Gray’s neighborhood, is lower than it is in Iraq.

Media coverage of the riots in Baltimore mostly depicts the participants as irrational. A mother who publicly slapped and berated her son for participating was lionized in the media as “Mom Of The Year.” Those who seek to explain the riots as the predictable result of years of economic and social oppression have been harshly criticized.

Donald Rumsfeld has not weighed in one way or another.

My, how times have changed. Stuff happened!

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