My motto for 2020 has been “Everything is stupid and it’s only getting worse” for a few months now, and unfortunately, I’ve yet to be proven wrong. In fact, every day provides new evidence backing up my thesis, including this little nugget from GQ columnist Julia Ioffe in response to the rioting and looting that erupted in south Minneapolis on Wednesday night after a day of boisterous but legal protests over the death of 46-year old George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers on Monday evening.
So the time when armed protestors stormed the Michigan state capital was fine…because they didn’t take anything? #looting
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) May 28, 2020
In a time in which dumb takes are de rigueur on social media, Ioffe’s attempt to equivocate between a permitted protest in which some protesters legally carried firearms inside the Michigan state capitol and the rioting in which some protesters illegally carried televisions, prescription drugs, and other items out of Minneapolis stores stands out for its utter inanity. It’s perfectly legal (at the moment, anyway) to legally carry a firearm inside the Michigan state capitol. It’s illegal to loot. I’m not sure why Ioffe wants to try to compare the two or what larger point she’s trying to make.
If I had to guess, I’d say that Ioffe’s attempting to make the case that protesters in Michigan were treated differently than looters in Minneapolis, either for the color of their skin or because of their political leanings. Given the fact that armed black and brown gun owners like Mike Lynn, Jr. also carried rifles inside the state capitol building shortly after the reopen protest as they escorted a Democrat lawmaker to her office (and had no issues with the Capitol Police), I think it’s wrong to simply assume that racism or politics played a role in how officers at the capitol in Lansing handled the situation.
If Ioffe’s trying to make a point about how people online have reacted to the two incidents, it’s an even dumber comparison. Again, no laws were broken during the Michigan protest. The armed protesters weren’t even engaging in an act of peaceful civil disobedience because they didn’t break the law, unlike those who were looting pharmacies, banks, and other businesses in Minneapolis.
Now, there is one valid comparison to make between the two incidents. I’ve stated before that I don’t think the armed protesters at a reopen event are actually accomplishing much for their cause, and the same thing is true for those protesters who started fires, smashed windows, and grabbed what they could from the businesses in south Minneapolis on Wednesday evening. Just as the armed protesters managed to turn the focus away from reopening Michigan’s economy to a potential ban on firearms at the state capitol building, the rioters in Minnesota managed to turn the focus away from the death of George Floyd to the devastation of a neighborhood.
Both groups may have hurt their cause, but that’s where a fair comparison ends.