The Corner

Making Sense of Unpleasant Events

Making sense of riots is a complicated business. This post from The Economist observes the ever-present tension between simple condemnation and searching for reasons, neither of which is perfectly satisfactory. Left-leaning former London Mayor Ken Livingstone certainly doesn’t support the rioting, but his attempts to explain it come off as unconvincing efforts to recruit the riots to his own political goals. On the other hand, there’s something not entirely satisfying about simply condemning, rather than trying to make sense of, such a major social event, as this blogger points out. And what are we to make of one of the rioter’s self-justifications: “I’m just getting my taxes back.” The Economist calls that a “pretty rubbish excuse.” Agreed. But riots do provoke society-wide self-examination, and probably always will. In general, the left prefers reasons and the right condemnation, but the division isn’t simple or total, and probably shouldn’t be.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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