The Protests Aren’t a Conspiracy. People Are Really Pissed

Demonstrators protest the police murder of George Floyd in Washington, D.C. | Photo by Geoff Livingston

Liberals are beside themselves trying to explain the explosion of popular unrest sweeping the country — and in the process, they’re starting to sound a whole lot like the deranged conspiracy nut, Alex Jones.

“We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out of state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region,” tweeted Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey.

Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Tim Walz claimed that more than 80% of the people arrested in the Twin Cities last week were from out of state, a statement that was easily and quickly proven to be false. He and his administration have continued to blame the state’s unrest on white supremacists, anarchists, and even Mexican drug cartels.

“De Blasio says small number of people from outside NYC is inciting violence. Who is organizing these people? I’d love to know,” tweeted New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay.

Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan Law school professor and analyst for NBC and MSNBC, shared a New York Times article from March alleging that Russia is trying to stoke violence from white supremacists on Twitter with the words “Mission accomplished.”

Susan Rice, the former U.S. National Security Advisor under Obama, told CNN that the protests are “right out of the Russian playbook.”

Trump meanwhile has proclaimed that he is going to have the anti-fascists, called antifa, labeled a terrorist organization, despite the fact that no such organization exists. While it sounds silly on its face, the threat to organizers is very real.

The uprisings are chaotic situations and it’s highly likely that there are some rightwing provocateurs in the mix, especially in Minneapolis. But rather than responding to the needs being voiced by their constituents, liberal politicians and their media surrogates are trying to write off this historic grassroots movement as a proxy war being waged by foreign and domestic enemies — providing all the justification they need for the military-style crackdown that is now being rolled out. The National Guard has already been deployed by Governors in 26 states across the country.

Politicians’ claims of outside agitators with nefarious motivations is finding purchase in the imagination of many liberals — and even some socialists — because many people who live relatively comfortable lives have a hard time understanding the depth of rage that the pandemic, economic recession, and police murder of George Floyd has unleashed.

But that rage is entirely understandable.

Being Black in America during a pandemic can be a death sentence. Black mortality from COVID-19 is over 3.5 times higher than it is for whites because of poverty, pollution, lack of health insurance, crowded housing and transportation, and the fact that such a high percentage of essential workers are people of color. One out of every 2,000 Black Americans has died from this pandemic.

On top of this epidemic, the police are continuing to openly murder Black folks in broad daylight in front of multiple witnesses and expecting to get away with it — because they always have.

The movement we see in the streets appears to be both multi-racial and working class. Some of the righteous rage fueling these protests is rooted in a growing recognition that our country’s political institutions are illegitimate.

Four hundred Americans own $2.96 trillion in wealth — more than the bottom 60% of the population combined — and the Treasury and Federal Reserve are spending trillions to ensure that the investor class won’t lose a penny during this recession. Meanwhile a third of Americans can’t pay their rent and the lines at food bank pantries are miles long.

The ruling class is rushing to reopen the economy during a pandemic, kicking everyone off their unemployment to force them back to their shitty jobs with shitty pay, while the rich stay home and have their food delivered by those poor people lucky enough to have a job.

Racist capitalism is dependent on the ruling class’s continued ability to use the levers of the state to protect its power: union-busting and strikebreaking, gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement, police violence and mass incarceration.

The state’s role in protecting and reinforcing the brutality of capitalism has exposed the hollow claims made by liberals that our country’s political system — and by extension, the police — is flawed but inherently good and capable of reform and their exhortations that voter registration and turnout will bring about the change we need.

The protests in the street offer a different interpretation and choice. This rotten system deserves to burn to the ground, so which is it going to be: democracy or capitalism?