Watching the looting and arson clips on television reminded me of the New York riots my family and I lived through in the mid-1960s.
Back then, many small businesses in the shopping district in my Brooklyn neighborhood and the surrounding ones, were plundered and torched.
Most never reopened.
My father, who served in the NYPD for 32 years, was called to patrol the hard-hit areas and did not come home for days; often sleeping on the floor in the police precinct.
Then there was the 1977 blackout riot that I witnessed firsthand.
On Wednesday, July 13, 1977, beginning at approximately 8:30 P.M., a series of lightning strikes at electrical substations, coupled with human error at New York City’s principal power provider, caused the entire electrical system to completely fail at approximately 9:30 P.M. and the city went dark.
Calling the blackout "Christmas in July," thousands of people in the five boroughs turned out to the streets and began rioting, looting, and destroying property.
More than 1,600 stores were looted, 1,000 fires were reported, nearly 4,000 people were arrested, and about 500 cops were injured in just a 12-hour period.
Sadly, most of the destruction occurred in poor minority neighborhoods. In the Bedford Stuyvesant part of Brooklyn, for instance, 35 blocks were wrecked, more than 130 stores were looted and a third of them were set on fire.
In 1977, however, elected officials were not afraid to condemn the piratical culprits.
Mayor Abraham Beame was flabbergasted. He condemned the event as a "night of terror in many communities that have been wantonly looted and burned."
Mario Cuomo, running to replace Beame, adopted the campaign slogan, "Put your anger to work."
Cuomo insisted that "law and order" was the number one issue in the campaign and he was going to be "tough." In a flyer distributed by the Cuomo for Mayor committee, he is quoted saying: "I am as angry as you about crime in our city. Criminals, not the people, should be afraid to walk the streets. . . . We need more cops, more judges, more people going to jail."
But nowadays, too many politicians are defending the lawless actions of radicals, arguing their concerns take precedent over destroyed private property.
Here’s how Mayor Bill DeBlasio puts it: "When you see a nation, an entire nation, simultaneously grappling with an extraordinary crisis seeded in 400 years of American racism, I’m sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved storeowner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services."
Looting and arson by "aggrieved" vandals takes precedent over one’s guaranteed rights of private property and religious expression?
How ridiculous is that?
The DeBlasio attitude has encouraged professional radicals to exploit legitimate protests to incite violence and to organize destruction and stealing.
The Wall Street Journal reported that agitators "are strategically placing bricks around the city to ‘sow fear’ and encourage people to attack police officers during protests. . . . "
The New York Post reported that a band of plunderers "pulled up to pilfer one Soho store in what appears to be a six-figure Rolls Royce SUV."
And a New York Times front-page story described how looters besieged a jewelry store with "crowbars and bolt cutters" and cleaned it out, not the tattoo parlor next store.
Radical leftists jump into action during such periods of rising hysteria to escalate unrest and create havoc.
And many of today’s incidents are not the result of spontaneous events but of "the technology of social demolition."
To understand this phenomenon, I took from a shelf a book I had not cracked open since 1977, "The Riot Makers," by Eugene H. Methvin published in 1970.
In his 586-page work, Methvin describes how a modern riot is created after an incident.
First, are the "Climate-Makers" — extremist professionals devoted to rubbing "raw the sores of discontent." They prey on young rowdies and law-breakers to "lead the more timid looters and set the fires."
And then they stir up "Sandbox Revolutionists" and "Armchair Anarchists" — upper middle-class children of privilege and 1960s hippies in search of a cause.
Finally, these pros intimidate irresponsible and short-sighted civic leaders "to appease when hard decisions are necessary to enforce order." And the community activists, in turn, lean on elected officials to "paralyze" law enforcers.
As Methvin relates, these rules for radicals are not new. They were developed by François-Noël Babeuf of French Revolutionary fame, and Vladimir Lenin in his epochal 1902 essay, "What Is to Be Done?"
The heirs of these revolutionaries understand (as in "The Riot Makers") that if one "chooses proper slogans, gathers a crowd and sends in agents to agitate it, [one] can create a riot."
And such mass disorders are easier to manufacture than ever thanks to social media.
The question now is, will the American people surrender to (to quote from "The Riot Makers), "a systematic technology of subversion, hate propaganda and social demolition"?
We will find out on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." He is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA. Mr. Marlin also writes for TheCatholicThing.org and the Long Island Business News. Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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