The outbreak of drunken rioting and property destruction by spoiled, petty bourgeois, white, New England college kids at the Pumpkin Festival in Keene, NH yesterday has led to a triumphant hashtag campaign by liberal twitter activists. These astute social crusaders and moral relativists have discovered the blatant hypocrisy that lies behind the system of white supremacy in America. Why, they ask, were these raucous white youths treated differently than Michael Brown? Why do they get a slap on the wrist, when Brown got six bullets? Where, they ask in particularly smarmy and insufferable gloating tones, is the white outrage? Why are these youths burning their own communities? Truly these heroic and gallant social warriors are teaching us a lesson in privilege and making us challenge our own assumptions about race. Or not.
Yes, because it is the shooting of Brown that is the comparable situation here, not the police response to rioting and property destruction. Apparently this canny tweeter thinks that cops should have just gone in guns blazing against these middle class douchebags, a response that they did not even use against the more serious and widespread rioting in Ferguson. And he thinks that this is actually some kind of biting social commentary. I am fairly certain that even given rampant white supremacy and privilege a white youth would still get shot for charging a police officer after assaulting him and attempting to grab his sidearm.
Even though the point is absurd, I understand why the tweeter made the comparison to the shooting of Michael Brown and not to the rioting in Ferguson. Because the police response to the two instances of riots was roughly equivalent given relative scale, making the bitching over this point absurd. The cops did in fact go in with riot gear and billy clubs, they did in fact use tear gas, and they did in fact make arrests. Pictures of cops arresting and dragging away spoiled drunken white Massholes are easy to find, and with a few alterations not that different than some scenes from Ferguson.
Other insightful commentators have stumbled upon what they seem to think is a truly ironic and scathing rhetorical twist by asking why these youths were engaging in such pointless self destructive behavior and castigating the white community for not clearly and forthrightly speaking out against such shenanigans.
White people in New Hampshire really need to do some self-reflection and regulate their animal impulses in the wake of #keenepumpkinfest.
— Sara Benincasa (@SaraJBenincasa) October 19, 2014
You see what they did there? I do. Clever.
I feel really chastened by these tweets. I now realize that white criticism of the Ferguson rioters and the response of the black community and black leaders was entirely hypocritical given the refusal of whites to examine our own entirely equivalent behavior and the totally different responses of the police when white kids riot and destroy property as opposed to blacks. Sure.
This rather lame attempt at narrative inversion is discredited by the fact that literally no one in the white community is standing up for or excusing these actions. No one is claiming they are legitimate because of some political cause, or the objective conditions of white people, or that destruction of property is justified given blah blah blah. There are no privileged white people coming to the defense of these riots with some hackneyed political rhetoric or trying to use them to spur on some kind of revolutionary social upheaval. The whites involved in these riots are being punished and condemned from all corners. Peruse the comments of any article relating to this and see the near universal condemnation from whites of every political stripe. Pretty much everyone in the white community agrees that these asshats richly deserve a billy club upside the head. Not to mention that the vast majority of these shrewd twitter gadflys are white people themselves, desperately signaling their high social status by displaying their moral self righteousness for all their white friends on social media.
Keene State President Anne Huot said this in an official statement:
“We are mindful that Keene State students played a part in this behavior and we intend to hold those individuals accountable for their actions. We deplore the actions of those whose only purpose was to cause mayhem.”
And today it was announced that those students that were involved will not only face legal charges, but are likely to get expelled from school as well.
Where are the whites speaking out against this? Pretty much everywhere. Yeah, oops.
This goes beyond context denial, and is an attempt to create an entirely fictional context. A narrative that is completely at odds with actual events in an attempt to make a bogus political point. They are going to have to try harder. Maybe they could lend this argument more weight next time by emulating whites and not coddling and defending blacks when they behave badly. But we know that won’t happen.