[NetBehaviour] quick thought on verbiage

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Sun May 31 18:54:09 CEST 2020

Hi all,

The term "outside agitators" has been used, very unfortunately, relating to the arson and looting in Minneapolis.

That term is associated primarily with segregationists during the 1960's civil rights movement in the Southern US to claim that there was no wish for change among southern African-Americans, and that the only call for change was from "outside agitators" i.e. activists from the North.  This was totally false of course, and was merely intended to dull public support for the call for civil rights.

The current situation in Minneapolis is, in my view, meaningfully different.

No one is suggesting there is no wish for change among the African-American community here.  They are merely echoing the wishes of the local community leaders, protest organizers, and George Floyd's family to stop the arson and looting.  Not to stop the protests, or the criminal charges against the offending officers (the key offender is in already in custody on murder charges), just the arson and looting.

The term "outside agitators" is being used to suggest, I think with very reasonable logic and documentary evidence, that the arson is being significantly accelerated by organized groups not associated with George Floyd's community.  Perhaps a better term would be "domestic terrorists" and that has been suggested too.  Early evidence including video footage, social media activity, and recovered IED's strongly suggests activity by groups who wish to escalate civil war, from the point of view of far-right or anarchist groups not associated with George Floyd's community.  It is easy to underestimate the power, motivation, and coordination of such groups in the US today.

Ideally more evidence about the arson operations will be found and made public.  Whether it is or not though, why should we automatically reject the opinion of George Floyd's family and the leaders of his community, who are asking for the burning and looting of their city and neighborhood to stop so that justice can be served, systemic change addressed, and rebuilding begun?  There is strong public support for all of these efforts across the city and state, and it is exactly this growing consensus for change that groups who prefer civil war hate and fear most.

I appreciate that some people are calling for a continuation of the arson and looting, and I share much of their anger and despair, but I do not agree with them on this point.  On the contrary, I believe that further arson and looting will strengthen the forces of reaction and damage rather than support the change required to address the systemic injustices which caused the death of George Floyd.

All this being said, my emotional state and proximity to the destruction may be warping my perception.

Yet I would ask you to ask yourself: do you believe that the incineration of your own neighborhood and city would be the best way to address its systemic injustices, and those of your state, nation, and world?  How much destruction would be enough for you to want a pause?

Be safe and well,


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