One of the things that you can wonder about is whether the George Floyd protests are likely to balloon into something larger. For example, will the disgust over the shooting of an individual become outrage over income inequality? After all, if “Black Lives Matter,” and they do, the unfairness of the economy towards blacks is as important as the attitude of the police towards them.
One needs to notice that the protesters are not just black. In Missoula, Montana, there was a large protest for such a small city. The city is 90% white, and the protesting crowd was overwhelmingly white. And one needs to notice that in many places where the National Guard was present, the guardsmen knelt with the crowd, in effect joining the protesters.
The interesting thing about these protests is that they were inspired by a small minority of the population, and yet they were joined by a large mass of the majority.
This is important, because in every successful rebellion around the world, at least some part of the military joined in. A great deal of analysis has been made of this factor. If, as appears to be the case, the National Guardsmen join with the protesters, then a true rebellion by the protesters may not be blocked by the Guard. I don’t believe that the Guard is acting this way just in order to calm the crowd. As the Guardsman in Minnesota said, “My heart hurts as a human being.” This was a statement by one human to another, over the hurt that the black protesters have suffered. And the same thing happened in Los Angeles and in Tennessee. In Boston, police knelt with the protesters. So did police in Fayatteville. Both police and the National Guard knelt with protesters in Omaha. I don’t think these events can be ignored.
The interesting thing about these protests is that they were inspired by a small minority of the population, and yet they were joined by a large mass of the majority. It’s unfortunate that George Floyd was killed, and had be been killed before the start of the Democratic primaries, it is entirely likely that Bernie Sanders, or one of the colored candidates (Kamala Harris or Cory Booker) would have been chosen. As things stand now, though, Joe Biden may be able to turn the protests into something favorable for him. I doubt that the protests will help Trump.
The protesters criticize those who call for peace. They say that justice must come before peace, and that is certainly true. There is every possibility that unless a national law akin to the Civil Rights Act of 1967 is enacted soon, there will be protests every weekend through November.
The Democrats need to seize this opportunity. They should analyze the major needs of the black population, propose changes as part of their platform, and immediately introduce legislation to achieve the same. This sort of program is the only thing that will stop an even larger set of protests, building on the present ones, because of the related economic and social problems in our country.
Michael T. Hertz