Is it inconsistent and hypocritical to oppose the Black Lives Matters riots while turning a blind eye to the storming of Capitol Hill? Many high-profile conservative pundits seem to think so.
Even if you think both of these actions were wrong, they are wrong for different reasons. It is perfectly consistent to oppose the riots perpetrated by the Black Lives Matters movement while sympathizing with the actions of the protestors who stormed Capitol Hill. This isn’t to say that the latter was right, only that holding one view doesn’t commit someone to the other view. There is no double standard.
Why is that? Answer: the BLM riots were wrong because they targeted the livelihoods of innocent business owners who had nothing to do with the perceived injustices highlighted by the BLM movement. By contrast, the actions of the Capitol Hill protesters were aimed directly against a government that was perceived as directly morally complicit in the failure to uphold justice, the rule of law, and election integrity. Therein lies the difference: the BLM riots targeted innocents, whereas the Capitol Hill protesters targeted a government directly responsible for denying election justice.
Maybe you disagree about the facts. Perhaps you think that election fraud didn’t happen, and that therefore the government did nothing wrong. As such, storming the Capitol was wrong. Even if this is true, it utterly misses the point: if storming the Capitol was wrong, what made it wrong is not the same reason why the BLM riots were wrong. It is one thing to be wrong because you were mistaken about the facts, it is another to be wrong because you intentionally targeted innocent people who had nothing to do with the injustices you claim. The two are not even remotely similar. Hence, one can consistently sympathize with the former while opposing the latter, because in each case the reasons are quite different.
As such, it is not a matter of saying “It’s OK when my tribe does it, but not OK when the other tribe does it.” Painting it as mere tribalism is an extremely naive and simplistic take. If the Capitol Hill protesters instead destroyed businesses and storefronts, then their actions would be wrong for the same reason that the BLM riots were wrong. Tribalism would provide no excuse. But that’s not what happened. They did not target innocent third parties, they targeted the entity directly responsible: the government.
But maybe the common similarity between the two is that violence was involved: BLM and the Capitol Hill protesters were both in the wrong because they used violence. Hence, if you condemn one you must also condemn the other.
This argument falls apart easily. The common denominator can’t be violence, because unless you’re a pacifist violence is sometimes justified. When is it justified? It depends on the facts of the specific circumstances. The use of violence doesn’t automatically make an action wrong, otherwise we could never engage in self-defense, wage war, or punish criminals. What this means that we must evaluate each case on its own merits. And once we look at that, it’s pretty clear that direct violence against innocents is never justified, whereas violence against a government can sometimes be justified if certain conditions are met. So again, if either or both of these actions are wrong, they’re wrong for different reasons. No double standard.
You might respond: “But some BLM riots also involved government entities!” Yes, that’s true, but the clearly indiscriminate nature of the BLM riots did not distinguish between innocent third parties and those deemed to be directly complicit. The government was just lumped in as just another target. Hence there is no point of comparison here. What happened in America’s cities in the summer of 2020 is completely different from what happened on January 6th, 2021.
Let me be clear: I am not saying that storming the Capitol was justified or unjustified. My goal here wasn’t to defend that. It is simply that conservatives can oppose the BLM rioting without also condemning the storming of the Capitol without resorting to double standards or naive tribalism.
Anonymous is a university professor somewhere in the United States.