For some, watching statues destroyed pains our sense of history. Destroying historical artifacts has historically been viewed as a terrible thing, although at the time the mobs, marauders and righteous were certain they were doing the right thing, god’s work, and would be vindicated by history. Nobody seems to learn much history, which makes George Santayana sad.
But beyond the destruction of history, there is the broader random destruction following protests, riots and looting. Which act it involves tends to be a product of who’s asked, as vandals fail to see their acts of vandalism as vandalism, but rather as acts of protest and revolution.
— Cozcacuahutli Itzpapalotl (@KohzKah) June 26, 2020
They’ve got a point. People certainly take notice of destruction, particularly those whose property is being destroyed. One might quibble about the fact that the person whose building this is, now tagged, window broken and, likely, looted, may have been out there protesting as well. Or maybe a black person. Or a woman entrepreneur. Or, dare I say it, just a privileged fragile white person who didn’t lie in bed eating bon bons all day like the rest of the white people.
For the “protesters,” this is inconsequential. Their cause is greater than the mere collateral harm done some undeserving person. The mob has voted with their hammers and spray paint to sacrifice their business to the cause. After all, protest is effective when it’s expensive.*
But who pays for the mob’s destruction? Not the mob. It’s not only hard, if not impossible, to identify who did the damage, but you can’t get blood from a rock. Their slightly used Che t-shirt collection isn’t going to pay off a judgment.
Since the protest is, putatively, against the government, why shouldn’t the government cover the cost of destruction? After all, if they have money to fight wars over non-existent weapons of mass destruction, it would be fair to use that same money to repair less-mass destruction, particularly when it’s in service of what the mob has decided is the greater good.
Of course, the government can manufacture a trillion dollar coin, but tends to prefer extracting its lucre from its people. Those people would include people who work and have businesses, like the one with the broken window, and who would likely prefer to spend their money on other things than the angst of activists with dubious college degrees and exaggerated crticical thinking skills.
From the perspective of the
rioters protesters, such banal concerns as who pays for their destruction is a concern of their enemy, of the privileged, of the very people whom they feel compelled to harm for the sake of reimagining the world. From the perspective of people who go to work every day, it’s their lives, their sweat, their effort. And it’s being destroyed by children so taken with the power of their mob that they not only have no regrets about the damage they do, but are filled with pride at their destruction.
We’re going to pay. Some of us more than others, but all of us to some extent. If you are willing, even happy, to pay for them to make protest expensive, that’s great, but that’s your choice. The person whose place of business is destroyed didn’t do anything to them or you. Yet, there it is, their efforts destroyed so you can indulge your fantasy.
Is protest effective when it’s expensive? If so, then more destruction will come.
*On the other hand, it’s not.