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Why the Left Won’t Call Rioters ‘Thugs’

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Two months ago, The New York Times published an op-ed piece by a professor of philosophy titled, “Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts.”

This is how the professor began his piece:

“What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised? I was.”

The problem, as the professor described it, is that a generation of Americans has been taught that there is no moral truth. There may be scientific truth and historical truth, but no moral truth.

The professor is, of course, right, as some of us — overwhelmingly from religious perspectives — have been lamenting for decades.

Now we have another example of the denial of moral truths. Last week, a number of leftists — black and white — announced that it is racist to label the rioters and looters in Baltimore “thugs.” Even though both the black mayor of Baltimore and the black president of the United States did so, the left-wing argument is that the term “thug” is never applied to whites, only to blacks. The T-word is, in effect, the new N-word.

Soledad O’Brien, former CNN anchor, on CNN’s “Reliable Sources”:

“I think when you examine when the word is used, it’s used to describe the actions of people of color, specifically people who are in the inner city.

“I can’t think of a situation where there’s ever been a headline or someone has called a white young person who is in the middle of a violent protest demonstration, whatever, a thug. We use it all the time when we’re talking about people in the inner city.

“Thugs” [is] a proxy, a word we use instead of the N-word.”

Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes interviewed by Erin Burnett on CNN:

Isn’t “thugs” the right word to describe the rioters and looters? CNN’s Erin Burnett asked the councilman:

He responded: “No, it’s not the right word to call our children ‘thugs.’ These are children who have been set aside, marginalized, who have not been engaged by us.”

“But how does that justify what they did?” Burnett then asked. “That’s a sense of right and wrong. They know it’s wrong to steal and burn down a CVS and an old persons’ home. I mean, come on.”

“Come on? Just call them ‘Niggers.’ Just call them ‘Niggers,'” argued Councilman Stokes.

The left-wing website Daily Kos agreed with Councilman Stokes and challenged Burnett:

“Did she or anyone else at CNN use the ‘T’-Word” when the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl … or when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series?”

Actually, it turns out that this is precisely how many of us in the opinion media have characterized rioters of every race. A word search on “thugs” and “Occupy Wall Street,” for example, reveals that just about every major conservative commentator called those rioters “thugs.”

In the Times last week, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, N. D. B. Connolly, wrote a piece titled, “Black Culture Is Not the Problem.” Its thesis is that one cannot blame any of the social pathologies in inner city black life — presumably such as the disproportionate rate of violence, the almost 80 percent out-of-wedlock birth rate or the riots — on the values (or lack of them) in black culture. Any such pathologies are due to various manifestations of white racism. Specifically, the professor wrote, it is the “continued profitability of racism … a country that still segregates people along racial lines, the financial enrichment of landlords, corner store merchants and other vendors selling second-rate goods.”

Why is it impossible for the left to blame black rioters for their looting, burning and destruction — the latter including an old-age home in the case of the Baltimore rioters?

One reason is that the left does not divide the world between traditional notions of good and evil. Rather, it divides the world between white and black, rich and poor, and powerful and weak. One therefore sides with the non-white, the poor and the weak.

A second reason is that the left rarely fights evil (it fights those who fight evil). It fights such things as inequality, fossil fuels and an alleged “rape culture” on American campuses. But it doesn’t fight real evil (like rioters).

A third reason is that the day even a third of America’s blacks come to believe that their problems are largely a product of poor cultural values, they will have become conservative and the left will have begun to lose its most important demographic group.

Those are the reasons the left now opposes calling black thugs “thugs.”


This column was originally posted on

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