Monday, July 20, 2020

Condoning Car Attacks on Protesters

The interesting thing about COVID19 times is that whenever I sense we have hit the lowest low, society always seems to find a level lower.  At a time when we admire the work of physicians, nurses and other folks on the front line of the pandemic, there are equal magnitudes of disappointment from some that represent a significant mindset within our nation.

Today someone I knew from high school posted this on Facebook:




A new low in counter-protest swag endorses the recent trend of using vehicular violence to quash social movements. 


Clearly the All Lives Splatter is a play off of Black Lives Matter, and the car plowing into protesters depicts the increasingly frequent use of vehicles weaponized by those aggressively opposed to the requested social change.  Since the death of George Floyd in late May, there have been 66 vehicle attacks on protesters.

The tactic typically employed by Islamic militant groups has now been adopted by those wishing to limit the American tradition of protest.  The most notable case in recent memory comes from Charlottesville, VA where a white supremacy rally conjured nonviolent resistance. James Alex Fields rammed the crowd of counter protesters killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Fields is now serving life in prison.  Analysis of his computer unveiled images of cars ramming protesters, indicating his actions were inspired and premeditated.

The latest attacks were in Bloomington, Indiana and Seattle. Twenty-four year old veterinary assistant Summer Taylor died when she was run over by Dawit Ketele, who now is being held awaiting trial.   

There are three levels of wrong here. 

1.  Using a vehicle to attack protesters. 

2.  Making memes and t-shirts to celebrate using a vehicle to attack protesters.

3.  Extolling the virtue of memes and t-shirts celebrating using a vehicle to attack protesters on social media. 

With each level the hate and pathology grow even deeper, from committing a violent act to promoting it as cute, funny, and in some cases necessary. 

And if you want to buy your protester-ramming shirt you can get it here for $23, right next to the "If You Don't Like America, There's the Door" shirt. 


The irony is that America's framers welcomed civil protest against injustice, and terrorist-level attacks on Americans by fellow citizens are about as un-American as it gets. Maybe their rejection of acceptable civility can help them find the door.

And therein lies the problem. People opposing protest for needed change feel they are somehow doing a patriotic duty. They will commit a crime as a presumably patriotic act, they will wear a shirt celebrating it, or emote about it on social media, even if it means killing other Americans.  

It shows the fragile state of our union, and the polarization of a significant portion of our population that feels neutralizing bothersome speech that provokes needed change is worthy of a deadly and violent response.