Yet there are folks out there who seem to feel that the Baltimore rioters are doing the only thing they can do in light of the issues they face. When you are poor, come from poor schools and poor family environments and then have the government (one can almost hear someone accusing The Man of holding them down) and society working against them through supposedly racist institutions, the only option they have is the riot. It's the only way, the argument goes, in which they might change the system and perhaps make it more equitable.
We've mulled that idea over a bit in the last few days and we are close to believing that the it might harbor either the most patronizing view of the downtrodden than almost any other liberal or progressive idea concerning the poor in history or, worse, the most insulting. To assert that they have no choice but to riot seems to say they lack free will. But if that's the case, then it seems that violence back at them may be society's only recourse. If they don't (or more to the progressive point, can't) understand right from wrong them there's no reasoning with them is there?
We can't accept that. The reaction of that one mother who openly berated her rioting son appears to demonstrate that yes, the poor can know the difference between right and wrong. And to the other point, that those born without the silver spoon somehow have the philosophical understanding that the system is stacked against them and that looting is the only means of change, well, we think that gives them little more than license. Rioters simply don't think things through quite so deeply. They tend to simply react, and arguably only because opportunity has knocked. The opportunity to act with impunity.
Yes, there are ways in which the government and police act and react which should be changed. They are human like the rest of us who can and will make mistakes for myriad reasons. Yes too that the poor merit a certain extra consideration because their poverty often does work against them. Yet at the end of the day they are responsible for themselves as much as the rest of us. Cut them slack perhaps as circumstances allow. But don't write them a blank check either: they have an idea of what they're doing. They know that breaking the window of a squad car is as wrong as breaking the window of their neighbor's car.