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Of course, those of us who are not insane (a small demographic, admittedly) are rather sick of trying to “understand” the emotional needs of rioters and looters. We’re tired of being lectured about our “closed-mindedness” as we watch a bunch of thugs rampage through our communities. We don’t care about their message anymore. If you can’t get your point across without setting things on fire, your point doesn’t deserve to be heard. You lose the right to have your “movement” taken seriously the moment you throw a cement block through a convenience store window and run in to snatch an armful of souvenirs.

If you simply can’t manage to get together for a “protest” without causing millions of dollars worth of property damage, you don’t deserve to be listened to. There is, it turns out, a word for people who use destruction and violence against the innocent to bring about “social change,” and the word isn’t ”protesters.” It’s “terrorists.” What we’re seeing in Charlotte — just as we saw in Ferguson and Baltimore and Dallas and in so many other cities — is terrorism, by definition. And that’s what we should call it, once and for all.

But many people refuse to call it what it is because they’re more concerned about protecting a narrative than protecting our communities. Indeed, the only thing more shameful than the barbarians who loot, maim and destroy are the cowards who sit off at a safe distance and make excuses for them. They’re as much a threat as the rioters themselves because they’re the ones who legitimize this madness. They’re the ones who give the crooks and terrorists “space to destroy,” in the immortal words of the mayor of Baltimore, by stubbornly refusing to condemn the sort of behavior they would certainly condemn in any other context.

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