By Edward Achorn
The Summer of Hate shows no signs of abating. Night after night, people are being injured or killed and property destroyed. Thousands of young Americans, after being locked down for months, are erupting with savagery and destruction.
This has gone on for two months now.
As a historian of the Civil War, I can see where it leads.
It leads to ever greater violence and hatred. Senseless shootings. Murders. Maiming. Flames.
While America has been the scene of deadly unrest many times before, this seems different. It is akin to the ugliness of the years leading to the Civil War, when growing numbers of Americans, no longer trusting the political process, embraced violence as a means of advancing their ends.
Our leaders are failing miserably in their responsibility to decry violence and secure domestic tranquility. Some even oppose efforts to restore order.
In doing so, they are undermining the beauty of America — the peaceful resolution of political differences through the ballot box and free and open discussion. Such a system depends on Americans’ enduring support for nonviolence, freedom, and the rule of law. Totalitarians, by contrast, rely on brute force to achieve their ends.
The prevailing media narrative — that riots are an exuberant form of “peaceful protest” and that this is all about fighting racism — is belied by the facts on the ground. But that does not seem to matter. The narrative has persuaded some corporations, in the admirable spirit of caring for black Americans, to give immense sums of money to groups that advocate violence and appear to embrace anti-Semitism. And Americans who detest violence and racism are being fired, pilloried, threatened or otherwise punished for even questioning this approach.
Despite all this, most Americans still hold a different view of riots from the elites. Blacks and whites alike oppose rioting as a means of advancing political goals. And they oppose defunding the police, one of the rioters’ chief aims.
The protests were supposed to express the idea that “black lives matter.” But rioters have wantonly destroyed black businesses, ruined black neighborhoods, and killed black people, greatly multiplying the horrid tragedy of George Floyd.
And the movement has ignored the greatest concerns of African Americans who live in failing cities: violence and bad schools.
Young black males are using guns to slaughter each other in appalling numbers, and no one seems to be able to stop it. African American citizens have spoken out long and loud about this, pleading for help. They are virtually ignored.
Those engulfed in such terrifying violence beg for more police protection, not less. But activists and politicians, many of them white, now want to strip away funds from the police. That approach would leave many black residents unprotected, while greatly increasing violence in these communities.
Black parents, meanwhile, plead for better and safer schools and the right to send their children to a school of their choice. The establishment, in thrall to the teachers unions, opposes them.
Americans who favor peace, love and social order seem to have been shoved to the margins. But I think they are still out there — perhaps heartbroken, perhaps silently seething — as fellow Americans are injured and killed, cultural artifacts are destroyed Taliban-style, and once beautiful cities are trashed.
History is clear. Violence breeds violence. Hatred breeds hatred. Rioting and looting are not free speech, and the effort to suppress rioting and looting is not an effort to suppress free speech.
Some “protesters” are now bringing high-powered weapons along. In some cases, they have threatened the lives of passing motorists. Counter-violence seems inevitable. A deadly shootout is bound to occur at some point, costing scores of lives.
Those who love America may feel lonely these days.
But I think I am far from alone in believing this: Love is better than hatred. Civil liberty is better than unrestrained violence. America’s noblest ideals are worth saving.
And this: Each of us is an individual with sacred rights no government can justly take away. We are all children of God, not to be defined by our skin color, whatever the loudest political narrative argues.
(Read Edward Achorn’s books about American history.)