“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
“[Expletive] the police!” — rioters in Baltimore.
“We also gave those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.” — Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
During the past 40 years, the nonviolent movement for racial justice has morphed into a violent movement for social justice.
The upheaval in Baltimore in the aftermath of the mysterious death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, is just the latest in a long line of racial violence, from Watts to Detroit, from Crown Heights to Ferguson.
The Rev. Martin Luther King’s legacy has been destroyed by leftists who depend on racial division. The struggle for civil rights lost its moral power when the demands switched from equal rights under the law to equal results. That changeover, from a movement based on legal justice to one of social justice, corrupted the mission and created a charlatan leadership. The result has been a cult of black victimhood and dependency, leading to endless cycles of crime, poverty, drug abuse and related violence and the general breakdown of the family.
What we have witnessed in Baltimore (and Ferguson last year) is the natural result of allowing leftist-articulated “grievances” to usurp the rule of law and the maintenance of civil order.
Ms. Rawlings-Blake tried to walk back her statement that she gave rioters a “space to destroy” after her comment encouraged more violence. This should not have been a surprise. During the Crown Heights riots of 1991, New York Mayor David Dinkins kept the police back in order to let protesters “blow off a little steam.” The violence, of course, escalated. The Obama administration has also repeatedly called for police “restraint.”
They intend to send a signal of racial sensitivity and social justice, but the result is black communities being burned to the ground.
When there is a lack of strong leadership, sinister characters fill the void. Thugs pour into the streets; few are there out of deep rage about their collective treatment by the police but rather because looting and torching businesses are fun ways to pass the time. Particularly when they know the television cameras are trained on them. After all, who wouldn’t want Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame (or infamy)?
The professional race hustlers then alight on the scene to profiteer and further enflame. The race industry claims to be the black community’s savior, when all it does is keep itself fat and rich.
There are legitimate questions surrounding the death of Gray, and I understand the anger and frustration among many in Baltimore. The investigation, like the ones into the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, must be allowed to proceed.
But as Winston Churchill is attributed to saying, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” And that was before instantaneous social media.
In America today, ideology — political, racial, religious — drives everything, and the truth takes a back seat, only emerging after a lot of damage has been done.
Some Baltimore rioters have been quoted as saying that they’re lashing out at the “system” they consider “unjust.” OK, but the “system” against which they are lashing is predominantly black. The Baltimore City Council is majority black, the mayor, police commissioner and 63.3 percent of the population are black, and the majority of the Baltimore Police Department is non-white. The problem, it seems, is not white racism, but a “system” they have installed themselves over many decades.
The Baltimore riots also show the limits of elections based on symbolism. Ferguson, Baltimore and general increased racial tension have occurred with a black president, two black attorneys general, a black Homeland Security secretary, and other top black officials. Campaigning in 2008, Mr. Obama told us that he’d be able to unify all races and creeds through his transcendence as a biracial president.
Instead, we’ve seen escalating racial animus, thanks largely to the signals he’s sent: from claiming that the Cambridge police “acted stupidly” in their exchange with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates to calling for police restraint in Ferguson to inviting ignominious agitator, the Rev. Al Sharpton, to be his top adviser on race issues to his muted response when two New York City police officers were assassinated while sitting in their patrol car.
The left, of course, needs chaos and division in order to thrive. Therefore, it stokes them whenever possible.
Perhaps this is why Mr. Obama has failed to do the one thing a black president could do that a white one could not: speak directly to the black community about personal responsibility, the need for fathers to raise their children, the strength to be derived from strong families and faith, the need to be productive and decent human beings.
He could have served as their ultimate role model, but instead he put his ideological desire to “fundamentally transform the nation” above all else.
I wish he — and the nation — would focus less on the words of Rev. Sharpton and more on the words of Rev. King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
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