Victor Davis Hanson
The beleaguered middle class, especially those of the suburbs, for the most part did not join rioting radicalized youths and inner-city minorities in the violence, looting, and destruction, even as their businesses were often targeted, and jobs lost.
Some small stores that had somehow endured the two months of shutdowns, did not survive the flames and break-ins that devoured entire city blocks from Santa Monica to Minneapolis. It was also no accident that many of the nation’s wealthiest, from enclaves in Malibu, Silicon Valley, and Manhattan, played the Jacobin role among the French aristocracy, and so cheered on the violent protests, assured that they were exempt from the violent ramifications of their own ideology.
Certainly, while there was expressed outrage about reports of the use of riot gas in dispersing violent protestors in the nation’s capital, few even noticed that the Beverly Hills police department stopped all would-be Black Lives Matter protestors aimed at Beverly Hills, through the generous use of tear gas.
In reductionist terms, the violence was medieval. The underclass attacked the sustenance of the middle class, while the progressive upper class virtue signaled the protests from their secure keeps. Disenchanted and mostly white youth found a new relevance for their education as megaphones for violence, in a loud and visible fashion that working at Starbucks or Target had never offered. Their foot soldiers who looted on television were all too often the urban and minority underclass.
So, in bitter irony, an entrenched feudalism was apparent even in the new resistance society—as the more educated middle class condescendingly directed the noncredentialled poorer to new looting grounds.
The absurdity of course, is the system that the protestors hated, and the president whom they despised, had just begun to arrest a decade of economic stagnation and chronic joblessness, achieving record low youth and minority unemployment.
We know the fuel for rioting—youth, boredom, idleness, economic frustration, and just enough education to allow the ignorant to believe they are all-knowing. We know its antidote: job stability, a good salary, marriage, children, and ownership of a home. But when the latter are absent, the former predominate. The rioters made the necessary adjustments, as they veneered over their own personal sense of failure and bleak economic futures, with the public sheen of cosmic injustice and damnation of the culpable state and common culture.
The rioting and looting were supposedly to illustrate the racial tensions of the age. In fact, their subtext was class divisions. A strange new neo-feudalism of the affluent, sequestered, and well-meaning championed the black underclass in ways that were loud and public, but ultimately selfish. Few asked the woke professor, or the suddenly activist CEO, “But where do your children go to school? Why do you live where you live? With whom do you dine?”
Instructive of changing ideologies among many first and second-generation immigrants is the case of three of the so-called four-member “The Squad,” a nickname that first-term like-minded congressional representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) adopted for themselves as symbolic of a new America and its changing demographics. That immigrants and the children of immigrants were elected to Congress—in their case with the 40-seat Democratic pickup of the 2018 midterms—should have been a source of unquestioned pride both for them and the nation.
The parents of three of “The Squad” had arrived from impoverished and sometimes violent regions such as Puerto Rico, Somalia, and the West Bank. On the basis of their gender and ethnic backgrounds, they fashioned themselves as representatives of a new demographic chapter in the United States. Yet, within nine months of their entering office, all three were facing federal or state investigations for campaign-finance violations, alleging illegal diversions or personal use of funds.
All three almost immediately upon assuming office lodged complaints that the United States was either racist, sexist, or exploitive to the poor and immigrant, and was thus apparently flawed from its very origins. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, born in the mainland United States to a mother from the unincorporated U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and a New York-born father also of Puerto Rican ancestry, was hardly impressed by the current American status quo that she intimated was not much above “garbage” (“And so, I think all of these things sound radical compared to where we are. But where we are is not a good thing. This idea of 10 percent better from garbage shouldn’t be what we settle for.”).
In fact, the U.S. is hardly a bit better than “garbage”; it has a per capita income of over $65,000, the highest of any large size nation in the world—over double that of the American territory of Puerto Rico, which the U.S. has generously subsidized.
Rep. Omar apparently did not know or did not wish to know the nature and origins of the 9/11 terrorists (“CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something.”). She voiced anti-Semitic tropes in explaining the supposed dual loyalties of Jewish Americans (“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”).
Omar who escaped Somalia to live in a refugee camp in Kenya, eventually reached America, where she was not so impressed by her newfound home: “When we landed. I saw panhandlers on the side of the streets, there being trash everywhere, and graffiti on the side of the walls.” Then Omar inquired of her father why America fell so short of what she had been promised, and he answered, “Hold on, we will get to our America.” Omar saw her newfound home as inherently racist: “In a racist society, it is not enough to be nonracist,” she lectured, “We must be anti-racist.”
Yet by 2020, it appeared that Omar had perhaps obtained U.S. citizenship fraudulently either by marrying her own brother or otherwise violating immigration law, and that her initial marriage to her husband and father of her children had initially not been strictly legal. It appeared that neither the government nor the media was especially interested in investigating whether a U.S. congresswoman had committed immigration fraud. She was also under investigation for steering some $250,000 and more in campaign funds to a consultant with whom she was romantically involved and would eventually marry.
The second-generation Rep. Tlaib for her part seemed incoherent when remembering the Holocaust: “There’s always kind of a calming feeling I tell folks when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors—Palestinians—who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports. And just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews.”
Often considered a fourth member of “The Squad,” African American Ayanna Pressely summed up the prevailing hard-left view of salad-bowl, identity politics that is apparently now deemed necessary for minority citizens:
“We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice.”
Ideas like Pressely’s have penetrated into mainstream political discourse and thought. During the 2020 campaign, Democratic presidential nominee-designate, Joe Biden, at one point argued with an African American radio host. Before ending the interview, in frustration he blurted out: “You’ve got more questions? Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Note how easily Biden assumed that the duty of black voters was to vote for Democratic candidates on the basis of their skin color. To prove his own African American “cred” Biden pandered with the slang “ain’t.” He had used that style earlier in warning a black audience of successful professionals that Mitt Romney and the GOP ticket wished “put y’all back in chains!”—another revelation in grammar and content that liberal whites felt that they could address black Americans both collectively and condescendingly rather than individually and as equals.
Strangely, none of the three congresswomen explained why at least one of their parents had chosen the mainland United States as their preferred destination. Or how as self-described women of color with ancestries dating recently back to non-Western environments, and in the case of Omar and Tlaib, of Muslim faith, they had obtained American subsidized college educations, ran for office as critics of the United States, were elected in minority-majority congressional districts, had mostly adopted for the most part the patois, fashions, tastes, and material appetites of the country against which they lodged such existential complaints.
Again, note here that we are referencing successful, educated, first- and second-generation Americans, who nonetheless seemed without much reverence for the country that drew in a first generation, at least as they perceive it in its present state. Somewhere, somehow the host, the people who now run America, had failed to offer a positive view of American history and traditions to those whose very arrival a priori had suggested they were initially eager to learn about both.