The Riot Games: How the Age of Entitlement is Changing America By Kat Ainsworth
It’s a scene apparently set on repeat: city streets teeming with rioters while law enforcement officers (LEOs) risk their lives protecting the very people demonstrating their hatred of anyone with a badge. It’s become an unending mass of angry, opportunistic people spending their nights overturning cars, looting small businesses, and screaming profanities at LEOs. They’re not always local, either; protesters are routinely bused in from other states to bolster numbers. In 2014 it was Ferguson, Missouri. Today it’s Charlotte, North Carolina. Tomorrow it might be in your hometown. And while unrest has always existed in one form or another, it’s at an all-time high.
When Trayvon Martin was killed in self-defense by George Zimmerman – you can argue Zimmerman’s presence in the area, but evidence showed the shooting itself was justified – President Barack Obama didn’t have much to say. What he did say was this: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” When the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri made its ruling in favor of the officer who shot Michael Brown, the President “appealed” to local LEOs to “show care and restraint” with protesters. In the same speech he lamented what he believes is a “legacy of racial discrimination in this country.” And when rioters stormed Baltimore over Freddie Gray’s death – for which every officer was later exonerated – Obama demanded “full transparency and accountability” from law enforcement rather than offering support. We are facing the worst race-based riots since 1992 and instead of trying to head off disaster our nation’s leader is fanning the flames.
In 2008 a black woman by the name of Peggy Joseph declared her joy over Obama being elected: “It was the most memorable time of my life. It was a touching moment, because I never thought this day would ever happen. I’ll never have to worry about putting gas in my car, never have to worry about paying my mortgage, you know, if I help him, he’s going to help me.” Her sentiment was repeated time and again, becoming the rather depressing mantra of a nation surrendering themselves to the tender loving care of the federal government. This has become a nation of spoiled children, the kind who destroy their toys in a fit of anger and then expect those toys to be replaced by an indulgent parent. How many rioters do you think get up in the morning for a full day of work after a tough night of looting and cussing out LEOs?
What’s happening in Charlotte isn’t new, it’s an ongoing symptom of a larger illness. The entitlement age of America has spawned something else: grown adults throwing violent, destructive tantrums. It doesn’t take much to send them skipping gleefully over the edge; it doesn’t have to be based in reality. All it requires is their delicate sensibilities are offended whether by a real or imagined slight. No matter how minuscule the slight might be it will be blown out of proportion in an epic manner. When it happens, it’s spectacular. When it happens, they riot.
This is not to say there aren’t any problems. The majority of these riots are using law enforcement shootings as their impetus and yes, there are bad cops out there. However, there are far more good cops than bad, and the shootings being protested are being proven justified nine times out of ten. The people (violently) protesting the shootings are also ignoring statistics: approximately twice as many white people are killed by police than black people. And when white people are shot, like Dylan Noble was in June 2016, the streets are noticeably empty. It is an unavoidable fact that these are not protests borne of true outrage and hope for change but are, instead, race riots. More than that, they’re riots of entitlement.
Citizens of Ferguson failed to see the irony when they robbed the very store the late Michael Brown himself robbed immediately prior to his death, and they failed to see the humor when they looted and vandalized local stores owned by minorities. Rioters’ outcries of racism are made ludicrous by their own actions. In Ferguson, Baltimore, Seattle, North Charleston, and Charlotte, it’s all about entitlement. Those who believe these riots are about shooting deaths, assaults, or the dirty look someone felt they received at Wal-Mart, are being willfully nescient. These riots aren’t occurring to exact change, they’re taking place to burn stuff down, brawl in the streets, and snag a new microwave. Because that microwave is yours anyway, right? You may not have earned it in the traditional sense but, hey, you deserve a treat today – every day – and it may as well be that microwave. This health care. This cell phone.
This low-class sense of entitlement is an interesting animal. How exactly does one address the desire to aspire downwards rather than upwards? We have become a nation too self-centered to think of anything but ourselves, too hooked on a bizarre sense of entitlement to consider the merits of a hard day’s work. We have become a nation rioting to get its way, like a bunch of spoiled toddlers who have been denied their apple juice after (apparently eternal) recess.
The presidential election is drawing near and it has far-reaching implications. Pay attention to the issues. Don’t let the talking heads on television tell you what to think. Decide what change is needed and work for it. Volunteer for a campaign. Make cold calls, stuff envelopes, and wave signs on street corners. Our nation is teetering on a ledge, and one wrong move could push it over. It’s time for actual change, and you can make it happen. Yes, you. It’s time to end the age of entitlement and enter an age where America returns to its former strength and glory. Forget making American great again, let’s make it awesome.
“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.” (Founding Father Samuel Adams in a letter to James Warren, President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, February 12, 1779)