F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines

Week of:
September 2, 2001
When Thugs Masquerade as Protestors

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

The rioters in Cincinnati were common criminals taking advantage of a permissive climate created by pandering whites and racist blacks.

"Riots may be relatively rare, but the thinking that rationalizes them is not," observes Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute. This "riot ideology," blaming society for the riot instead of the rioter, "pervades the country's response to underclass problems and to race issues generally."

In the summer issue of City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute, Mac Donald argues that the false characterization of the Cincinnati riots as "a spontaneous outcry against injustice" served only to justify the violence and the subsequent pandering to race hustlers. "Local leaders scrambled to contain the public-relations fiasco and to show their concern for black anger," she reports. "The City Council hurriedly voted to submit a pending racial-profiling lawsuit to costly 'mediation,' rather than contest it, even though none of the suit's allegations had been shown to be credible. Mayor Luken invited in the Justice Department to investigate the police division. . . . But the city's main riot response was to form Community Action Now, a three-man panel dedicated to racial reconciliation. . . ."

Mac Donald insists that "it wasn't police brutality that incited the riots; it was the incessant anti-police campaign waged by local activists." She also emphasizes "one hard fact" not addressed by the various conciliatory gestures: "Seventy-two percent of the defendants indicted so far in the Cincinnati explosion have adult criminal histories. Prior offenses include rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, assault, weapons discharge, and endangering children."

According to Mac Donald, "Riot ideology in Cincinnati has had its usual effect. In the month following the riots, violent crime of all kinds rocketed up 20 percent. This is not surprising," she asserts. "Not only did the riot ideologists romanticize assaults and theft as a long-overdue blow for justice, but they demonized the police as hard-core racists. Arrests for quality-of-life offenses, disorderly conduct, and drug possession -- the firewall against more serious crime -- have plummeted since the riots, as the police keep their heads down."

Mac Donald worries that "anti-racism task forces and aid packages" give young inner city residents the poisonous impression that "this is the way to get the world to notice you, this is power -- destruction, not staying in school, studying, and accomplishing something lawful." Instead, she recommends taking steps to "prevent the next riot before it happens by sending in police in force at the first sign of trouble. But better even than this," Mac Donald advises, "political and business leaders who have not already sold out to the civil rights monopolists should try to break their cartel. They should find black citizens who are willing to speak about values and personal responsibility, and who embody them in their own lives. They should appear with these citizens at public meetings and put them on task forces, if task forces they must have. If they do it enough," she predicts, "the press will have to pay attention. And when the voice of hardworking black America becomes familiar, the riot ideology may finally lose its death grip on American politics."