Riots as Protests

by Stanley Kurtz

I see that a liberal blogger out there is claiming I think Obama “supports” the London rioters. No way do I think that, nor did I say that in my original post. My point was that Obama in 1992 saw the L.A. riots as a kind of political protest, a view quite similar, by the way, to the argument now being made by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who thinks the British riots are implicitly a protest against the government’s austerity measures. Here’s a post from a blogger at Forbes who correctly criticizes the mischaracterization of my argument.

As I made clear yesterday, I don’t think Livingstone is supporting or encouraging the riots. But Livingstone’s belief that the current London riots are political protests against the powers-that-be has rightly kicked up a controversy in Britain. Livingstone is trying to lever the fact of the riots into support for his left-leaning political agenda, and that’s what Obama was doing back in 1992.

Another point of my original post was that Obama wanted to tap the allegedly politicized anger of the underclass to support his voter registration drive–thereby electing left-leaning candidates who would work to change the “existing power pattern” in America. There’s certainly nothing wrong with registering voters, but framing that effort as an attempt to capture and channel the same supposedly political energy that goes into riots seems pretty questionable. Is Obama still prone to see things broadly along the lines Ken Livingstone does today? We can’t know for sure, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised. In any case, it isn’t a matter of supporting or encouraging lawlessness, which nobody is doing but the rioters themselves. It is, however, a pretty questionable way to think about the energy behind a voter registration drive.

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