There is a meme making the rounds on the Internet that shows comedian Will Farrell with a caption that says: “I can’t believe it’s riot season already. I still have my COVID-19 decorations up!”
It is a comment on how our attention has shifted between two tragic events — the pandemic and now the protests and riots that have spread around the country after the killing of George Floyd.
There is nothing remotely funny, of course, about the catastrophes we are living through. We are facing a public health crisis, an economic crisis, and a social crisis all at the same time. Our nation is shaken to its core. For anyone who loves America, this is one of the saddest springs of our lives.
The recent protests, riots, and violent revolt in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing have been on the front pages for the last two weeks. People have died, buildings and cars have been burned, and countless stores have been ransacked by looters. When the civil unrest subsides, COVID-19 may surge, once again securing its place on front pages.
The protests were a result of the horrible conduct of a police officer — and the apparent indifference of three others. The cause of some protests becoming a string of riots, arson fires, looting, and destruction is probably more complicated. There are people who feel the need to destroy things during a protest because of their rage. It is also reasonable to suspect that others were there just to loot and destroy.
There are also people who went into the protests with the intention of promoting violence for political purposes not directly related to George Floyd’s killing. Rioters who identify themselves with the Antifa movement were trying to take advantage of the “revolutionary situation,” in the Leninist sense. Creating chaos is their political goal.
Pacific protesters against racism or discrimination take after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Explaining his famous bad-check metaphor, he said: “Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”
Some of the Antifa movement’s supporters don’t believe in “the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.” They assume the bank of justice is indeed bankrupt, and they want to burn it down.
We can’t judge the pacific protesters, the looters, and the Antifa-style protesters as just one entity. And we cannot give reason to the most destructive elements of the protests to attract new recruits to their cause.
As we hopefully emerge from the civil unrest of the last two weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic will once again return to the front pages. We don’t yet know how, but we will find out soon.
During the protests that have taken place across the country, all social-distancing rules have been ignored. Soon we will find out if the crowds we saw will bring back a new wave of COVID-19 cases. The answer to that question will probably determine how the summer will go for the country. If there are tens of thousands of new cases of COVID-19 in a week or two, we will go back to square one of this painful process. If we don’t see a significant rise in the number of cases, the reopening of the country will likely move faster than before.
Let us hope that peace will return and the danger of the pandemic will recede in the coming weeks.
We are all in this together indeed, and we won’t get through it if we don’t act as “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”