America’s Descent Into Chaos Reveals a Failure of Moral and Political Leadership

Politicians make poor moral leaders. Who knew?

It took days for senior Democrats to bring themselves to condemn looting

Anarchy reigns in many US cities. What began last week as a protest over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has erupted into riots and violence across the country. Our TV screens show post-apocalyptic scenes of burning buildings, smashed windows, mobs of people looting, police cars set on fire. At least 40 cities have imposed curfews and the National Guard was called into 15 states. Violent battles between rioters and police rage on.

The fact that these scenes of bedlam are happening amid a pandemic makes them even stranger, like living in a dystopian movie. The mask-wearing rioters have burst open our months-long restrictions on social gatherings. The same politicians who yesterday were complaining about gatherings in parks and beaches are now praising masses of people for exercising their First Amendment rights. And you can’t help but think that pent-up frustration from the lockdown and mass unemployment is being released and lends greater intensity to the street demonstrators.

Anger over the killing of Floyd is justified, and it’s no wonder there have been protests. The video of the police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck, crushing him to death as he pleads for air, is excruciating and horrific to watch. That Chauvin’s fellow officers did not intervene to stop him reveals that he is not just one bad apple, but indicative of a wider problem within the force. These officers should be tried and punished, and broader reforms of the police are needed.

But by now, nearly a week later, the rioters have taken matters well beyond the original rationale for protesting. The four officers were fired immediately, Chauvin had charges brought against him (for third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter) in record time, and investigations continue. But these swift actions did not quell the demonstrators. Instead, the street dynamic has taken on a life of its own, and Floyd is a distant consideration. The marauding youth, ransacking stores for sneakers and electronics, and setting fire to buildings, are not protesting about or mourning Floyd.

This looting and destruction is shattering to the local community. Residents, many of whom are black and poor, will suffer most from the demise of shops and public facilities. Many of the businesses in these neighbourhoods are small and minority-owned. In this context, it is sickening to see leftists on Twitter providing convoluted justifications for the ruin following the rampages. ‘Property is insured and can be replaced. Lives cannot’, tweeted activist and writer Sally Kohn: ‘Check your priorities, America.’ As it happens, many of these black-owned small businesses do not have insurance, and full lives include people’s livelihoods, which have now been severely damaged. Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, urged people to stop looting in his name, saying that Floyd ‘loved’ Minneapolis and seeing the city on fire would ‘devastate’ him.

The descent into chaos in Minneapolis and other cities reveals two striking things about the crisis in America today. First, that there are significant numbers of people, especially sections of black youth, who have no firm stake in society. A range of public authorities, from Minnesota officials to attorney general William Barr, have suggested that out-of-state white radicals associated with Antifa were to blame for instigating the rioting. Those inspired by Antifa are definitely an element, and some videos showed black protesters pleading with them not to destroy stores or attack the police. But the focus on the minority linked to Antifa mainly serves to distract from a more homegrown problem – indeed, the vast majority of those arrested in Minneapolis were locals.

As noted, people are right to be angry about the killing of George Floyd. But that alone doesn’t explain the plunge into rioting and looting. That so many, including many young black people, were ready and willing to smash up stores and steal goods (and with glee in many cases) shows how thin the support for the rule of law and social order was before Floyd’s killing. That’s a bigger problem for public officials and other elites than they have reckoned with before now.

The second, and related, revelation from the mayhem in the US is the lack of leadership and respected authority in politics and society. That starts at the top. In response to Floyd’s death, Donald Trump evinced none of the usual empathy expected, and he did not recognise its national significance. He then proceeded to pour fuel on the fire with his tweet ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’. He has no way to restore order, other than by deploying the National Guard.

But the more immediate leadership failure was local to Minneapolis. City mayor Jacob Frey and Minnesota state governor Tim Walz had no clue how to respond to the first signs of rioting, preferring to hide from attention.

Walz used carefully chosen woke language (‘I will not patronise you as a white man without living [your] lived experience’) and refused to condemn the rioting (‘The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish, unheard’).

In an astounding move, Frey ordered the city’s Third Police Precinct to be evacuated, allowing the mob to burn it down. It was just ‘brick and mortar’, he dismissively said when challenged. The torching of the police station was highly symbolic, essentially signalling that officials no longer felt they had the moral authority to insist on order. It gave a green light to more rioting.

Nationwide, Democratic Party politicians, including former president Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Joe Biden, followed the softly, softly approach adopted by Walz and Frey. In their statements, neither Obama nor Biden could bring themselves to condemn the rioting, instead focusing on historic injustices. It took the black mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, to say what her fellow Democrats were afraid to say: that the rioting was hurting the people they claimed to be fighting for. Bottoms’ excellent, impassioned statement, along with a message from the rapper Killer Mike (a fellow Atlantan), exposed the establishment Democrats as out-of-touch and patronising – they were clearly not aware that many black people did not support the rioters.

While Bottoms and Killer Mike had a more realistic assessment that seemed to resonate with many, it was telling that they too were not able to impose their own leadership and get a grip on the deteriorating situation in Atlanta. It seems even they couldn’t stop young people from rioting and looting. The disaffection and alienation among sections of black youth is perhaps worse than first understood.

In the wake of Floyd’s killing and the eruption in cities, there is a lot of renewed talk about how irredeemably racist the US is. Frey said the protests stemmed from built-up anger and sadness ‘ingrained in our black community not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years’. This commonly held view expresses a deep pessimism, as if there has been no progress over the centuries and blacks will remain perpetual victims.

With so many promoting a bleak outlook, it is easy to forget that nearly all Americans of all races agree that the killing of George Floyd was appalling and wrong. They know it was unjust. And at the same time, most Americans know that looting and rioting is bad. They don’t want to see their cities burnt to the ground. We’re suffering enough economic hardship from the virus-prompted shutdown as it is, and the riots only compound this. Of course, there is far from consensus on all issues regarding race, the economy and other areas. But we have more in common than the race fatalists will allow. That’s something we can build on.

Source: Spiked

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sabateur
sabateur
3 months ago

or well planned action.

Mensch59
Mensch59
3 months ago

I don’t believe this is about “Anarchy reigns” whatsoever.
Anarchy is all about abolishing the power of the State.
This unraveling of social order — which is completely negating such strategies as massive nonviolent civil disobedience or a well-organized general strike by the workers withholding labor while workers support one another instead of looking for relief from the state & capital — will ultimately benefit the totalitarians.
Western nation-states have been inverted-totalitarian for some time now. (See the term “inverted totalitarianism” expounded upon by Sheldon Wolin.)
The next phase is overt totalitarian social control.
As long as international organized labor refuses to take the lead in disempowering capital AND as long as the people/the proletariat refuse to organize massive nonviolent civil disobedience, social unraveling will only work in favor of the ruling class.

Collectivist
Collectivist
3 months ago
Reply to  Mensch59

Cloistered in the woods with the “fair maiden” is, apparently, a source of ‘enlightenment’, eh?

Political and economic consciousness guaranteed.

I think this is much more credible and enlightening:

WHITE SUPREMACIST INFILTRATION OF US POLICE FORCES

By Danielle Schulkin, Just Security.

June 1, 2020 

| EDUCATE!

Above photo: Stop Killing Black People. From Catholic Masses.

Fact-Checking National Security Advisor O’Brien.

Systemic racism in US Police Forces is than “a few bad apples.”

On Sunday morning, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked President Trump’s National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, whether he thinks “systemic racism” is a problem in law enforcement agencies in the United States. O’Brien responded: “I don’t think there is systemic racism. I think 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are great Americans,” said O’Brien. “But … there’s a few bad apples.”

There are two flaws in O’Brien’s response. First, O’Brien ignores the well-documented support by law enforcement officers of alt-right extremist ideology throughout the country. Second, O’Brien misunderstands the nature of systemic racism—a term that means that institutions we have in place produce racially disparate effects on minority populations—in his discussion of individual officers.

An FBI intelligence assessment—titled “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement” and published in 2006 during the administration of President George W. Bush—raised alarm over white supremacist groups’ interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” The report, based on FBI investigations and open sources, warned, for example, that skinhead groups were actively encouraging their members to become “ghost skins” within law enforcement agencies, a term the report said white supremacists use to describe members who “avoid overt displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.”

In 2015, a classified FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide, obtained by The Intercept, stated that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers.”

FBI Assessment 2006 White Supremacist Infiltration Law Enforcement by Just Security on Scribd

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on right-wing extremism and its relationship to “violent radicalization” in the United States. The report’s principle researcher on the subject, Daryl Johnson, later told The Intercept:

“Federal law enforcement agencies in general — the FBI, the Marshals, the ATF — are aware that extremists have infiltrated state and local law enforcement agencies and that there are people in law enforcement agencies that may be sympathetic to these groups.”

This may not be a coincidence.

An investigation published in 2019 by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that hundreds of active-duty and retired law enforcement officers are members of Confederate-sympathizing, anti-Islam, or anti-government militia groups on Facebook. Within these private groups, members often are openly racist. Police officers have also been linked to groups like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, who believe in defending white Americans from “enslavement” and are actively hostile to immigrants. The investigation identified active-duty and retired police officers as active members in explicitly racist Facebook groups such as “Veterans Against islamic Filth” (the group deliberately lowercases “Islamic” in its name) and “PURGE WORLDWIDE (The Cure for the Islamic disease in your country).”

The leader of the Oath Keepers movement, Stewart Rhodes, bragged in 2009 that his anti-government group includes “thousands of retired and active law enforcement officers.” On May 30, during protests in New York City, a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer appears to have made a hand gesture that has been linked to white supremacist groups, which the New York Attorney General asked to be reported to her office.

The Plain View Project, a database of public Facebook comments made by nearly 2,900 current and former police officers in eight cities, suggested that nearly 1 in 5 of the current officers identified in the study made public posts or comments that appear “to endorse violence, racism and bigotry,” as reported by Buzzfeed News and Injustice Watch in a study of the database. For example, there are 1269 identified problematic posts from active duty Philadelphia police officers on the site. Of the 1073 Philadelphia police officers identified by the Plain View Project, 327 of them posted public content endorsing violence, racism and bigotry. Of those 327, at least 64 hold leadership roles within the force, serving as corporals, sergeants, lieutenants, captains, or inspectors.

The history of racism and white supremacist membership in law enforcement agencies is long and well-documented. In the 1990s, a federal judge found that there was a “neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang” of Los Angeles police deputies – self-styled “the Vikings” – that existed with the knowledge of police department officials. In 2015 and 2016, the San Francisco police department attempted to fire at least 17 officers after investigations revealed they were sending racist text messages. Last year, a police officer in Oregon was linked to the leader of an alt-right white nationalist group.

The Ku Klux Klan historically – and even in recent years – has had ties to local law enforcement. In 2014, a police department in Central Florida fired two officers, one of whom was the deputy police chief, for being members of the Ku Klux Klan (commendably, the information in that case came from the FBI via the Florida Department of Law Enforcement). In 2015, a North Carolina police officer was pictured giving a Nazi salute at a KKK rally.

The failure of police units to discipline police officers over allegations of excessive use of force and/or for racist behavior or actions is part and parcel of the systemic issues protesters have demonstrated over for many years and in recent days.

The officer charged with George Floyd’s murder, Derek Chauvin, was the subject of at least 17 misconduct complaints prior to Floyd’s death, almost all of which resulted in no discipline and the rest of which concluded with only a letter placed in his file. News reports say the nature of the complaints is unclear from the information the Minneapolis Police Department released, and that the department wouldn’t provide details.

In 2018, Buzzfeed News reported that at least 319 NYPD employees committed offenses, including harassment and assault in some cases, that were sufficient cause for termination between 2011 and 2015, but for which they were not fired. “Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily,” according to the news outlet. Some officers who declined to be identified told Buzzfeed the internal investigations into the actions were “rife with favoritism, racism, and pressures to just plead guilty.”

Disciplinary systems that struggle to hold officers to account for other offenses will similarly fail to remove racist police officers, undermining public trust in entire departments. In Chicago, according to the Citizens Police Data Project, only 7 percent of all police complaints have resulted in any disciplinary action, including allegations of police officers using racial slurs. In 2018, the chief of police in Elkhart, Indiana not only did not discipline an officer but promoted him to sergeant despite the officer “using police communications equipment to refer to white power,” reports ProPublica.

Minneapolis Lieutenant Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, was previously a named defendant in a discrimination lawsuit brought by four black Minneapolis police officers against the Minneapolis Police Department for discrimination. In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the Lieutenant openly wore a “White Power badge” on his a motorcycle jacket. Kroll, who admits that he is sometimes called racist but rejects the characterization, has referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as a “terrorist organization.”

https://popularresistance.org/white-supremacist-infiltration-of-us-police-forces/

Mensch59
Mensch59
3 months ago
Reply to  Collectivist

The Plain View Project, a database of public Facebook comments made by nearly 2,900 current and former police officers in eight cities, suggested that nearly 1 in 5 of the current officers identified in the study made public posts or comments that appear “to endorse violence, racism and bigotry,” as reported by Buzzfeed News and Injustice Watch in a study of the database.

The State endorses violence, racism, and bigotry. Whenever people get corrupted by exercising state power, the result is those people become violent and racist and bigoted/illiberal. If you have not learned this simple & plain & clear lesson from your study of history, then your brand of “the materialist historical dialectic” is worthless. Completely and utterly worthless.
You’re not immune to “power corrupts”, Collectivist.

Collectivist
Collectivist
3 months ago
Reply to  Mensch59

“The State endorses violence, racism, and bigotry. Whenever people very corrupted by exercising state power, the result is those people become violent and racist and bigoted/illiberal. If you have not learned this simple & plain & clear lesson from your study of history. . .”

. . .and experience. . .

Mensch59
Mensch59
3 months ago
Reply to  Collectivist

Since you have this experience, I’m flabbergasted as to WHY you still advocate for state power to be in the hands of the (politically) correct people.
Maybe you’re all for this: https://medium.com/@BarackObama/how-to-make-this-moment-the-turning-point-for-real-change-9fa209806067

Collectivist
Collectivist
3 months ago
Reply to  Mensch59

“the (politically) correct people”

Boy, the rightwing talking points never stop, do they, Mensch?

Apparently, the rightwing ‘Borg’ has taken over you
OR
that (figurative)’polar’ bear, Jay mentioned, has hijacked your account. . . .I tend to think It’s a combination of the former and 😎’personal’ politics. . .

So, you prefer politically ‘incorrect’, or ‘correctness’ – an important quality in many phenomena – is meaningless to you?

Mensch59
Mensch59
3 months ago
Reply to  Collectivist

I’m simply not into you and your ilk “collectively” determining the important quality of the “correct” people (politically-economically) who can exercise state power.
Care to comment on the “quality” of Obama’s solution “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change”?

Collectivist
Collectivist
10 months ago
Reply to  Mensch59

Not really.
He’s worse than you.

Mensch59
Mensch59
3 months ago
Reply to  Collectivist

Yeah, yeah, sure, sure.
You and your fellow nationalists, statists, authoritarians, non-“white” identitarians are going to abolish systemic racism and abolish the police state by seizing the power of the state for yourselves.
That’s as demented as “We can abolish the rule of capital by embracing fascism”.
Afaic, your embrace of statism, authoritarianism, nationalism — using systemic racism as a cover — is Hitlerite.

Collectivist
Collectivist
3 months ago
Reply to  Mensch59

“Afaic . . .”

Apparently, not that far.
Maybe, the trees are blocking your view . . .?

An oldie but goodie:

https://youtu.be/OpjzQL0i3HE

Mensch59
Mensch59
3 months ago
Reply to  Collectivist

Even though it’s not a “contest”, I’ll match my sight against yours any day.
Just like I’ll match my knowledge of history and my overall general intelligence against yours.
I detest the cognitive bias of illusory superiority.
“I’d like to teach you all a little sayin’
And learn the words by heart the way you should
I don’t say I’m no better than anybody else
But I’ll be damned if I ain’t jist as good!”
— Aunt Eller, “The Farmer and the Cowman”, lyrics by Richard Rodgers

Collectivist
Collectivist
3 months ago
Reply to  Mensch59

“Even though it’s not a “contest”, I’ll match my sight against yours any day.”

So childish for a man your age.
Grow up, will ya?

Mensch59
Mensch59
3 months ago
Reply to  Collectivist

You started in with the immature “Apparently not that far” comparison to my Afaics comment, arsehole.
Are you getting senile?

Collectivist
Collectivist
10 months ago
Reply to  Mensch59

“Are you getting senile?”

Maybe, but trying to not be as vile, and Hayes-ish, as you.

Your new role model?

So, what happens when you piss her off again, and she curses you out, online, again?

More love?

Mensch59
Mensch59
3 months ago
Reply to  Collectivist

Copying and pasting doesn’t detract from your dementia.
I can study history in a rural setting or an urban one, while in a relationship or living alone.
You really are a piece of shit, Collectivist.

sabateur
sabateur
3 months ago
Reply to  Mensch59

i can imagine a rural village… 2 old men fighting…like boys in a schoolyard … women standing by, shaking their heads.

Godfree Roberts
Godfree Roberts
3 months ago

The second, and related, revelation from the mayhem in the US is the lack of leadership and respected authority in politics and society. That starts at the top

Confucius addressed this issue 2400 years ago, proposing that only society’s most morally outstanding citizens be promoted to positions of authority, “If you rule with regulations and use laws to bring order, the people will avoid punishment but never develop a sense of shame. If you lead them by virtuous example and bring order by assigning appropriate responsibilities then, in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously because human affairs only prosper in harmony with the moral nature of the cosmos. Superiors and inferiors relate to each other like wind and grass: grass must bend when wind blows over it”. (Analects).

Today, every Chinese in the lower half of the income distribution owns a home and has a guaranteed income, plenty of food and clothes, better education than Americans, safe streets, health insurance, a pensions, and old age care. Their children graduate from high school three years ahead of American kids and live longer, healthier lives and there are more drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, hungry and imprisoned people in America than in China.

Leadership. Don’t leave home without it.

bob
bob
3 months ago

Nonsense

The Chinese are creating absolutely all the same mistakes as America,a vast mindless consumer society,powered by Fintch and controlled by sophisticated social credit scores just make sure the proles don’t get up themselves,but right now obesity is a massive and growing problem,no pun intended,which will drain their less than perfect health system

So you’re actually wrong,with your daft rose tinted vision of China

You’re emitting pro CCP propaganda,and really should know better

Godfree Roberts
Godfree Roberts
3 months ago
Reply to  bob

I know better. I’ve been studying China for 60 years and visiting since 1967. I know exactly where they’re at and where they intend to go.

Here’s something that suggests they’re not going our way: there are more drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, hungry and imprisoned people in America than in China.

Maybe we should tend to them before badmouthing China.

bob
bob
3 months ago

Yup, a CCP stooge

Ton Jacobs
Ton Jacobs
3 months ago

Absolutely true that a coherent and harmonious society demands leaders to lead by virtuous example. Trump, Obama, Bush and most US and European leaders fail and failed in it, often horribly.

Godfree: Confucius addressed this issue 2400 years ago, proposing that only society’s most morally outstanding citizens be promoted to positions of authority, “If you rule with regulations and use laws to bring order, the people will avoid punishment but never develop a sense of shame. If you lead them by virtuous example and bring order by assigning appropriate responsibilities then, in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously because human affairs only prosper in harmony with the moral nature of the cosmos. Superiors and inferiors relate to each other like wind and grass: grass must bend when wind blows over it”. (Analects).

Godfree Roberts
Godfree Roberts
3 months ago
Reply to  Ton Jacobs

Martha Stout said, ”Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths. I think you would find no expert in the field of sociopathy/psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder who would dispute this… That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow–but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one.”

Gaaaah!

chris chuba
chris chuba
3 months ago

We have spent so much time causing problems for other countries that we have ignored own backyard and this is the result. This editorial on AMC got to me because it was filled with our typical arrogance … https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-collapsing-oil-prices-could-unravel-global-security/

As perceived guardians of the world, the author is predicting doom and gloom for the oil producers of the world because of their fragile social infrastructure. How tone deaf. We have been attacking Venezuela and Iran mercilessly and they have been resilient while we have been fracturing but the author is paternalistically sounding the alarm over the needs of other countries, presumably for another R2P adventure.

abbeysbooks
3 months ago
Reply to  chris chuba

As #Toynbee says in the disintegration of empires. The violence they have been exporting now gets IMPORTED to their own citizens. China and Russia are empires in their growth stage. Nothing will change this cycle. The US and Western Civilization has not been able to meet its repeated and repeated challenges.

Anti-Empire