I read somewhere that Black Bloc is a tactic and not necessarily a group. That’s scary stuff. Knocking heads and setting fires isn’t a new idea. But the idea of doing it just for the hell of it seems to be catching on.
Ad libitum violence and destruction can’t be a good thing. But it does make you wonder how much of it is political motivation, how much is boredom, how much is frustration and how much is anger. Of course all of the above are simple manifestations of human nature, but we don’t want to get to the end too fast. Because then you’d realize there is nothing you can do about it anyway and wander off to have some fun doing other stuff.
For those of you left who still have an intellectual curiosity about, or even a passing interest in, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (the part that says all systems move from order to chaos) we can walk through the nonsense at the University of California at Berkeley a few days back.
Let’s start by finding out what Black Bloc isn’t. Just go to your favorite news source, they’ll tell you what it isn’t. Just listen to what they say and think the opposite. This works no matter which side of the squiggly line you’re on.
The target de jour was Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo has gone from getting his ass kicked in bathrooms by homophobes to ducking blows (think fists) on the major campi of higher learning. A news source that says hateful things about him accused him of trying to spread the message to the nation’s colleges that saying hateful things is cool. Since we’ve now given up on pointing out the ironies and inconsistencies in what passes for information these days, we’ll let that one go.
Anyway, Black Bloc apparently agreed with this assessment of Milo and got to work kicking asses and busting the place up. I heard they frightened the cops off. I couldn’t confirm that anywhere but if looking at pictures helps it did seem Black Bloc was running the show.
Here’s the part I don’t get. If Black Bloc is trying to tear down power structures then why didn’t they go after a pair of ears that truly deserves a good boxing? I’m talking about Nicholas Dirks, the UC Berkeley Chancellor. I can’t figure out why he was exempted in all of this. In fact, he was the big winner of the fracas.
Ol’ Saint Nick, who wraps up taxpayer money in pretty boxes and hands them out to his friends and family, got to stand up and cry, “Milo destroyed over $100,000 worth of public property. And the people of California are going to have to pay for it!” Right after, he assured everyone his campus is committed to free speech. This was after Milo Yiannopoulos was escorted (I also read removed and booted) off the campus. And of course, Milo got stuck taking the blame home with him.
It was inspiring to hear Nicholas Dirks, who makes over $500,000 a year, stick up for the people he’s been sticking up for years. Last year he was investigated for misuse (read stealing) of public funds. But apparently that’s a forgivable transgression in academia because Black Bloc ignored it completely.
If they don’t care about financial malfeasance they should at least have something to say about kids living in California who get shuffled to the bottom of the list after their parents, grandparents, etc. have been forced to support a university system that goes after foreign and out of state students because they can force them to pay higher tuition. Isn’t it all about the People? Well, I guess this is different. Somehow.
My favorite quote of the riot came from a campus activist who said, “It’s extremely frustrating that he (Nick, that is) is condemning the violence when he had every opportunity to cancel the event and stop this from happening.”
Obviously this person didn’t want Milo there in the first place. But, who is this activist defending? Does he/she think the people who would come to see Milo are such nitwits that they will believe anything they hear without giving it just a little thought first? If so, the joints of higher education aren’t doing a very good job of doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
Though, I can see why that would be worrisome these days. I suspect no one on campus wanted to take the chance the speaker might have a point. No one wants other people to agree with something they themselves don’t agree with. That’s no good.
Learning seems to be a very narrow channel these days with opposing views forced into the shallows and shipwrecked along the banks. But Black Bloc, those joyful promoters of chaos, will keep us safe while this new slug of friends and foes lead us right down the rathole.