American Elephants


What Is The Impulse To Go Join A Riot? by The Elephant's Child
August 20, 2014, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Law, News, Politics, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

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I understand why journalists flock to a town like Ferguson, Missouri. There’s a famous old saying “If it bleeds it leads,” and even more if there is the possibility of interesting interviews and especially good photographs or videos. But why do ordinary people flock to a riot?

Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan reported from Ferguson that seventy-eight protesters were arrested during last night’s clash between the police and the protesters. Only three of those arrested were actually from the town of Ferguson. A lot came from the state of Missouri, but some came from as far away as New York and California. There were some concerns that rioters were using the demonstrations as a cover to launch attacks against police.

I understand the people who are there, those who feel personally harmed demonstrating and the demonstration turning to riot. Unfortunate, but it happens.

I don’t get it. What is the impulse that sends someone from some distance away to go and join in a riot? Is it the possibility of looting?  The possibility of attacking the police? It is surely obvious that you can get hurt at a riot, at best. Do they just think it will be fun?

Al Jazeera reports that the Islamic State has recruited 6,000 people in the last month, and the recruitment push is gathering pace. They claim the number of fighters is now over 80,000 in Iraq and Syria (totally unverified numbers). Let’s all go kill infidels. Behead infidels, execute those who have different beliefs. Is this the same impulse? Drawn to danger and chaos?

Is it a matter of getting all emotional, all fired-up, indignant over what you have heard? When we had the WTO riots here in Seattle, lots of broken windows, trash cans set on fire, and groups of anarchists appeared from somewhere else to join in the fun. People uninvolved in the Occupy movement rushed to join in the fun at their various riots.

I would understand defending your home or your community from an outside threat, but I don’t get rushing to join a riot, or even a demonstration in which you have no personal involvement. People also rush to go see a catastrophe. Stop on the highway to see the accident (when it’s clear they don’t need help, but just want to see).

We should be instructing our children when they are young, never to go to a riot. Riots are not always peaceful, and sometimes people get killed.

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