November 12, 2020

CHRIS RUFO: Riots and Looting: How the Democratic Party and its allies used the threat of violence as a campaign tactic.

The rest of us shouldn’t move on so easily. Riot preparations are unprecedented in modern American electoral history. The media have quickly moved to establish a new narrative—the “return to normalcy” under a presumptive Biden presidency—and would prefer to relegate the much-discussed pre-election tensions to the memory hole.

The threat of election violence should be understood in the context of the months-long rioting that began with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Despite a handful of incidents involving right-wing agitators, most urban unrest has been driven by the activist Left, loosely organized under the banners of Antifa and Black Lives Matter. This reality has been exhaustively documented in newspaper reporting, activist livestreams, and police-blotter mugshots.

While the national media can afford to peddle a largely imaginary narrative about “white supremacist violence,” business owners in New York, Minneapolis, and Portland have no illusions about where the real threats come from: they’ve spent the past five months defending themselves against vandalism, looting, and robbery from black-bloc rioters and criminal opportunists. Across the country, many downtown stores put up signs declaring their allegiance to Black Lives Matter, implicitly saying: “we’re on your team, please don’t burn us down.”

In political terms, the activist Left’s campaign of violent protest provided a convenient foil for the Biden campaign. Biden adopted the high-minded language of racial justice, promising to combat “systemic racism,” while benefiting from the implicit threat of violence from far-left shock troops on the ground. It’s the same logic of extortion that any thug would use—vote for us and things will return to normal; vote for Trump and your cities will burn.

Yes, and they were pretty open about it.

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