When I think about heroic activists, one name stands tallest: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He fully embraced non-violence as the means to combat injustice, and by never raising a hand against his opponents, he won.
Today, some anti-gentrification “activists” would do well to learn those lessons. In communities all around the nation, people see opportunity in lower-income neighborhoods. They enter the areas, start businesses and renovate structures. They raise property values and create jobs and boost our standard of living. They also drive out prior residents who were renters.
This process is the natural result of a market economy. That being said, it’s rough on the people displaced, who can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood they may well have grown up in. It’s not difficult to understand the emotions of people protesting the natural results of liberty.
What isn’t understandable is how some are turning to violent action as a means of combating this gentrification. A group called “Defend Boyle Heights” has embraced these tactics.
By “making s*** crack” — by boycotting, protesting, disrupting, threatening and shouting in the streets — Defend Boyle Heights and its allies have notched a series of surprising victories over the past two and a half years, even as the forces of gentrification continue to make inroads in the neighborhood.
A gallery closed its doors after its “staff and artists were routinely trolled online and harassed in person.” An experimental street opera was shut down after members of the Roosevelt High School band — egged on by a group of activists — used saxophones, trombones and trumpets to drown it out. A real estate bike tour promising clients access to a “charming, historic, walkable and bikeable neighborhood” was scrapped after the agent reported threats of violence.
“I can’t help but hope that your 60-minute bike ride is a total disaster and that everyone who eats your artisanal treats pukes immediately,” said one message. The national (and international) media descended, with many outlets flocking to Weird Wave Coffee, a hip new shop that was immediately targeted by activists after opening last summer.
Unfortunately, it worked. Now, groups in other cities are adopting similar tactics.
Yet what they’ve also done is turn hipsters into objects of sympathy. If there’s anything I hate, it’s being made to feel bad for hipsters.
So what drives this kind of thinking? Yahoo reports of one group present at one of the protests that might be responsible: “A few activists clutched bright red hammer-and-sickle flags.”
For a group demanding centralized control over the economy, it’s not surprising that they have also adopted the Marxist belief that the ends justify the means: that as long as your cause is noble, you’re justified to do anything and everything to achieve that end. You can threaten, harass, even kill — just as long as you’re doing it for the “right” reasons.
What these “activists” don’t get is that sooner or later, someone’s going to have enough. They’ll make one too many threats, get in one too many faces, and then someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to die, and it’ll all be on them.
And why? Because they don’t want to make tough decisions about relocating? That’s the end they’re willing to go to such extremes for?
The terrible hold Marxism still has on some Americans cannot dissipate quickly enough.