The video footage of bands of Black Lives Matter activists roaming through Washington D.C. on Monday evening harassing diners—surrounding them, screaming in their faces, declaring that anyone who doesn’t raise a fist in solidarity is a white supremacist—is in a way more disturbing than the riotous scenes of arson, looting, and violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in recent days following the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake.
It’s more disturbing because it’s a glimpse of what comes after the rioting and looting are over, when the attention and ire of the social justice mob moves away from institutions and settles, as it always does, on ordinary people minding their own business.
Chanting “silence is violence,” the mobs in D.C. demanded that random people they came across do as they were told: raise a fist or else. In one video, a seated woman is surrounded by angry BLM activists, nearly all of them white, fists raised, haranguing her to do the same.
The woman, showing good American instincts, reportedly said she agreed with them but refused to be bullied by a mob.
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1) In a scene that played out several times Monday, a Black Lives Matter protest that began in Columbia Heights confronted White diners outside D.C. restaurants, chanting “White silence is violence!” and demanding White diners show their solidarity. #DCProtests pic.twitter.com/fJbPM76vb0
— Fredrick Kunkle WaPo (@KunkleFredrick) August 25, 2020
But plenty of others did as they were told, if only to avoid being swarmed by a raging throng.
Throwing bricks at police and running from tear gas in darkened streets is the kind of thing people do when they know they are weak and cannot yet win in an open fight. This other thing, these scenes in D.C. on Monday of mobs descending on passersby and demanding fealty, is the kind of thing people do when they feel they are ascendant, that they are in control, that they are winning—indeed, that they have already won.
In a sense, they’re right. For months now Democratic mayors and governors across the country have been passive, sometimes to the point of complicity, in the face of wanton violence and unrest in the streets of their cities. Because this violence has been perpetrated by their ideological allies, they have often looked the other way, along with a media establishment that insists on describing rioters and looters as “protesters,” and repeats, mantra-like, the obvious falsehood that the “protests” are “largely peaceful.”
In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and the city council have caved to the mob and slashed the city’s police budget, as other cities have done, reducing the size of the force by hundreds of officers and disbanding the equestrian units police often rely on to control crowds. Even so, activists have taken to gathering outside the private homes of council members and Bowser, demanding even more action.
It is not hard to see how these circumstances embolden the mob. After toppling statues with impunity, they moved on to clashes with police in the streets. After doing that without serious consequences, they wring concessions from leftist politicians who are both sympathetic to their cause and terrified of them showing up on their front doorstep. Having learned that the people in power will not stand up to them, they turn their attention to people with no power.
Whatever else the scene in D.C. was on Monday evening, it was not peaceful. It might not have been the rioting, looting, arson, and assault we’ve seen from Portland to Chicago to New York, but it was not peaceful. It was a show of force. The message they were sending was clear: we are winning, we are gaining control, if you want to be left alone you will recognize our power.
These are not people who really care all that much about improving black lives, or enacting substantive police reform, or ushering in a more peaceful and just society. They do not want to share the republic, much less preserve it. They want one thing: to rule you.