Harold Ohayon
A Wandering New Yorker

Beware the Fury of the Mob

The old adage ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ is a perfectly apt descriptor for the protests and riots that are currently miring the United States. What started off as justifiable rage at the death of an innocent man at the hands of a callous police officer has quickly morphed into a populist movement that is hellbent on burning the country to ashes. A truly depressing situation, as the mobs have destroyed any chance at unifying the country behind a common cause due to their reckless abandon and unchecked malice.

An opportunity utterly missed.

This isn’t the first time such a cause has veered into extremism and nonsensical destruction.

The Palestinian cause is another example of a movement that quickly descended into a vehement movement that openly calls for the destruction. The Palestinians have had numerous occasions to meet Israel in good faith and dialogue, yet instead they always rush into extremism and maximalist intransigence. Instead of building bridges and fostering environments conducive to dialogue, they seek to dominate the narrative and ruthlessly punish Israel by dehumanizing her on the international stage. You can witness this firsthand if you ever stumble across a pro-Palestinian rally. The slogans are shouted in rage, the posters are devoid of anything resembling peaceful messaging, and their demands are leave no room for negotiation. History is butchered and distorted, with oversimplified and highly bombastic imagery used to portray Israel in the worst possible light. Nuance fades away, absolute statements become blind facts to follow, and the historical narrative disintegrates. Dialogue is never sought, peace is never reached, and the rage of the mob just festers and grows more noxious with age.

So too with the protest groups ravaging the cities of the United States of America today.

The protests that emerged after the murder of George Floyd were initially peaceful. The message beaming from the protesters called for reform and justice. Noble demands, to be sure. But then things changed. Peaceful marches turned into looting and pillaging, calls for reform became demands for banishment and dissolution. As time passed, the protesters became more and more hostile. Despite the offending officers being fired and then arrested, the rage of the mob was not sated. More and more cities felt their wrath, and the situation shows no signs of abating any time soon. The protesters have become belligerent, listing off demands that cannot be feasibly met. They do not offer any peaceful solutions, nor do they seek dialogue and a middle ground. Instead, they have become the oppressors they claim to be fighting against. They have left a trail of devastation in their wake, with cities marked with beheaded statues, burned out building and graffiti laden streets.

How does this bring about justice? How does this create a more equitable and peaceable society?

Behold the danger of the mob. History has shown what happens when it is unleashed with nothing there to check their primal anger. Robespierre tapped into such anger and the horde left the streets of Paris filled with blood. Mao’s ‘revolution’ left millions of corpses in its wake, as well as the destruction of countless temples, statues, shrines and other reminders of China’s long and storied history. And so now it is time for America to face such a predicament. Make no mistake, those vandalizing and rioting are not doing so under the banners of Justice and Peace. No, they are venting their fury as they see fit. Some are fueled by grievances, others are ideologically infused. But their actions show that they don’t want positive changes for the country. Instead, they want to burn it to the ground and rebuild on its ashes. That is why they are striking out at historical monuments stretching from Christopher Columbus to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Like the more extreme members of the pro-Palestinian camp, they ignore the messages and nuances from history and instead paint everything in absolutes. Someone was either absolutely wicked or totally pure, and there can be no discussion about anything in between. The Palestinians will claim that the Jews have no history in the region and thus don’t deserve a state in the Middle East, while those in America will claim that the country was born out of wickedness and has never done anything righteous in its history. Such abuse of history is truly disgusting, and it is painful to see how widely embraced it is becoming. Perhaps it is simply easier to accept such oversimplified binaries instead of delving through the endlessly daunting chapters that comprise the history of the human race.

Pro-Israel advocates lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the people long ago. Ask anyone who has ever voiced pro-Israel sentiments on a university campus and they will tell you how bad the situation has become. Those in America, both politician and average citizen, must learn from Israel’s failure. The mobs striking from New York to Seattle are winning this chapter of the culture war, and if left unchecked their totalitarian zeal will soon quash many of the aspects that make America a truly spectacular nation. People must confront the false dichotomy being spouted by these mobs, and focus on reminding Americans what America truly is. The United States of America is a country of contradictions. There is no way to truly paint her as being purely good or dastardly evil. Like all things under the sun, the truth rests somewhere in the middle. There are many faults and short comings with the United States, but these are equally matched when compared with the innumerable good things that exist within the country as well. The danger posed by the mobs of today is that they wish to erase everything that has come before them. They have convinced themselves that they are the Sons and Daughters of Light, and that their home country is the embodiment of Darkness. Such cultish thinking never ends well, nor does it ever create a harmonious society.

We need balance. We need discussion. We need change. These things will not come about via the flames and shrills of the mob. It must come through the process, through democracy, and with noble intentions at heart. Only then can America evolve into her next stage of life, one that is even more inclusive and welcoming than anything that has come before.

The possibilities of the future are boundless.

Imagine wandering about an American city in the future. The city scape bears testimony of the numerous sagas and stories that have played out throughout the land over the centuries. Parks are named after famous Europeans, African Americans and Native Americans. Statues dot the landscape, honoring the Founding Fathers, famous explorers, noble indigenous leaders and warriors, abolitionists, and war heroes of every color and creed. Schools teach a more thorough version of history than what is disseminated today: Care is given to explore the local tribes that existed in the areas long before Europeans ‘discovered’ the New World, more context is given to the African experience and what happened during slavery, more focus is given to the heroic African Americans that fought for America during the various wars that she has engaged in, and a more holistic approach is given to better create  a new American identify.

Such a lovely possibility.

But such a future of cannot emerge from the mobs in the street. Their solution is solely based on emotion and revenge. They do not seek to be peacemakers, but instead wish to become the new oppressors. They tear down instead of buildup. They burn instead of preserve. The future they will bring is full of empty pedestals, gutted streets and the loss of the American spirit.

Such a nightmare must never come to pass.

About the Author
Expat New Yorker living in the Land of the Rising Sun: Trekking to random parts of the globe, debating countless things under the sun, and attempting to learn to cook Korean food.
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