I believe that a realist perspective is required to solve the qualms of conflicting ideologies. When amid a public relations disaster you must focus on the practical, pragmatic and probable, not the ideological, as this may add fire to the flame with further political foolishness. As is the case for public relations disasters, compromise is absolutely necessary.
What is happening in Baltimore today provides the ugly truth of this need for realism. According to CNN, Freddie Gray was dragged violently to a transport van after having surrendered to the police. Supposedly, Gray was fully capable of speaking and breathing when he was put into the van, but once he was taken out of it, it was discovered that he was no longer responsive. This event served as the catalyst for the current protests and riots in Baltimore.
When people riot it often stems from the ideology that they must destroy in order to feel as though they are no longer the victims, even if on a subconscious level. Vindictive behavior like this brings with it a sense of euphoria, as though their destructive actions are not only justified by their having been wronged, but that their actions themselves are forgiven and will somehow bring about change.
Conservatives, still following their ideology that punishment dissuades crime, would have us believe that arresting these rioters will restore order. In line with this, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland called in the National Guard and set a curfew in order to establish control with a ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ mentality. However, like most riots, similar actions taken by both parties destroyed, rather than spared, Detroit, Mich., in 1967; and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, this ideology of bullying people into order has led it to becoming a city with a 12 percent unemployment rate and 39 percent is now under the poverty line. It’s clear that this sort of political process is not a successful solution.
Keeping with the example of Baltimore, the anarchist in me believes that the people should not be rioting and that the police have no right to exert any force, because only individual rights exist – not law. The police, then, are an illegitimate force. I believe that the people are free and that they only need to act on it. However, if applied in the real world, this ideology would get many people arrested, killed or worse.
I must accept that the best course of action is for the protesters to continue to admirably oppose both the rioters and the police, despite how it may exhaust them. I believe that Gov. Hogan must demand full transparency regarding the events surrounding the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, because if the Department of Justice forces the release of this information, it would only cause further discord and distrust among those protesting the local police in Baltimore.
In my heart I am an anarchist. I believe that humans have the power and capability to control themselves, since all power resides within themselves, and operate in a just, functional and hopefully more innovative world. However, I must compromise these ideals for the sake of human life and for the sake of the people I want to empower with anarchy. In this world, reality trumps ideology – not the other way around.