We have all probably heard that phrase ‘taking your anger out on the wrong person’ or had someone tell us ‘don’t take your anger out on me’. Well, perhaps no one said this to the rioters who wreaked havoc in Washington DC on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration as 45th President of the United States.
Although it came as no surprise that many people protested and though it is welcome that most people exercised their right to protest peacefully, not all did. Public bins thrown on the floor, businesses windows smashed and a Washington Examiner reporter had their phone thrown on the pavement . It led to over 200 arrests and many will no doubt face be charged and prosecuted.
There are many things unsettling about these riots. Many of thee rioters no doubt concerned about what the incoming Trump administration may do due to Trump’s comments on the campaign trail. They worry about Muslims, illegal Mexican immigrants and women. They probably worry about their safety and status in America. If that is the case when why does this safety not extend to the members of the public innocently minding their own business? Those having a coffee in the Starbucks who’s windows got smashed? Why does this concern for safety not extend towards those who were eating in the nearby McDonald’s?
One must question if concern for others was the real reason why they came out that day. These rioters also seem to have absolutely no respect for the concept of property rights and their actions exemplified that. Individuals, have a right to be secure in their persons and possessions; something which these rioters rightly say to Trump about Muslims and women. So why do they not extend this thought process to the owners of the property they vandalised?
Violent rioters are giving peaceful anti-Trump demonstrators a bad name. One of the biggest problems with protests (and one of the major reasons that I tend to stay away from them) is because there is always a bad bunch that want to cause trouble. “Riots can attention while protests send a message.” says Phillip Wegmann who is comment writer for the Washington Examiner. How right he is.
The rioters of the group will end up getting most of the media coverage just like how the violent rioters during the tuition fee protests a few years ago got most of the media coverage. What that then does is demonise all those peaceful protesters who do not want violence or to be associated with it. It could also lead to a crackdown on the right to protest, something which Trump supporters as a well as protesters wouldn’t want. It is quite interesting that those rioters, determined that they have the best interests of various groups at heart, could be inadvertently making it harder for those people to have a voice in the future.
So often people who protest violently believe that their behaviour is right. They believe that the end justifies the means. They believe that because they have a grievance or are unhappy with a particular outcome that they can cause destruction and infringe of the property rights of local business owners. Well it’s not right and in future I hope business owners feel more compelled to defend their property and the lives and liberties of the people within their property more rigorously (American business owners have the right to bear arms the last time I checked)
Protesting is a right that all people in free societies deserve and it should always be upheld but damaging property both private and public and throwing journalists phones on the ground is not on. It does nothing for the cause or the people the cause is intended to help. It discredits peaceful protesters by association.
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The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty