Another night, another round of riots. They’ve now come full circle, as rioters hit up Minneapolis for the second time since George Floyd’s death.
The rationale of the rioters? Rumors that police shot a black man. The truth that soon emerged, however, was that the man killed himself as police closed in due to his implication in a recent homicide.
The aftermath of the riots included four fires, countless shards of broken glass, and damages to businesses which “have been struggling to stay afloat financially for months from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic,” the Star Tribune reports.
Unfortunately, that’s just the official aftermath. What’s not counted in that toll are the threats and friction that play out through fracases in every corner of the country. An example of these threats and intimidation that seem to happen with increasing regularity – from D.C. diners to Minneapolis reporters – occurred last night with Minneapolis reporter Kyle Hooten.
Presumably while covering the unfolding riots, Hooten claimed that he had been “robbed at gunpoint in Minneapolis” for his “bulletproof vest and backpack.” But that was only the beginning. Hooten began posting threats he received in response to his initial tweet.
The threats extended to his family as well.
I look at incidents like these in disbelief. What in the world is wrong with people that they careen out of control over demonstrably false rumors, intimidating those who attempt to portray the truth of what is unfolding on city streets? I realize that many of these rioters, or “peaceful protesters” as the media calls them, claim to be seeking justice to make the world a better place. Yet I fail to see how chaotic riots, theft, threats, and fires advance those goals.
The late political theorist and social critic Russell Kirk said it well when he noted, “Men cannot improve a society by setting fire to it: they must seek out its old virtues, and bring them back into the light.”
If the images of burning buildings in recent months are any indication, those claiming to seek justice by rioting may be making a lot of noise, but they’re certainly not improving society. So how do we find a better way? Where do we find these “old virtues” that Kirk encouraged us to seek?
Well, let’s look at what made our country great. What did our founders base their ideas of government upon? Judging from their writings, they looked at history, they studied the nature of man, they recognized that man was inherently sinful, and they did their best to establish a government that would check that sinful nature and help society operate smoothly. In other words, they looked to Scripture and the Judeo-Christian code of ethics and morals advanced by Western civilization for centuries.
Was the country they founded perfect? By no means. Yet it ploughed on for decades, staying relatively peaceful and happy, proving, as George Washington predicted in his “Farewell Address,” that “religion and morality are indispensable supports” to the “political prosperity” of a nation.
Given society’s contemporary distaste for religion and morality, it should come as no surprise that we’ve lost that peace and happiness.
In addition to the phrase above, Russell Kirk also observed, “There exist always two aspects of order: the outer order of the commonwealth and the inner order of the soul.”
Might that be how we find our way out of these riots, these burning cities, these threats and intimidations? Do we need to work on ordering our souls in the old virtues in order that we may also have an ordered society once again?
Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout.