On Monday, The New York Times belatedly published an article recounting the horrific damage that the Black Lives Matter riots wreaked on Kenosha, Wisc. The article’s timing seems particularly suspect — it appears the Times, which ran interference for the Black Lives Matter rioters throughout the summer, only decided to cover the fallout from the riots after the paper joined others in calling the presidential race for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
In the story, the Times‘ Nellie Bowles acknowledged that insurance only goes so far when it comes to making business owners whole in the wake of riots and looting. Bowles cited the book In Defense of Looting, which claims that “looting is an essential tactic against a racist capitalist society, and a largely victimless crime… because stores will be made whole through insurance.”
After The Philadelphia Inquirer dared to publish an op-ed entitled, “Buildings Matter, Too,” the top editor resigned amid backlash.
“‘People over property’ is great as a rhetorical slogan,” the Inquirer‘s architecture critic, Inga Saffron, had written in the piece. “But as a practical matter, the destruction of downtown buildings in Philadelphia — and in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and a dozen other American cities — is devastating for the future of cities.”
Bowles’ article essentially explained that Saffron was right.
“While large chains like Walmart and Best Buy have excellent insurance, many small businesses that have been burned down since the riots lack similar coverage. And for them, there is no easy way to replace all that they lost,” Bowles reported.
“In Kenosha, more than 35 small businesses were completely destroyed, and around 80 have been damaged, according to the city’s business association,” she wrote. “Almost all are locally owned and many are underinsured or struggling to manage.”
Tony Farhan, owner of a Kenosha electronics shop that rioters looted and burned, told The New York Times that insurance cannot cover his losses. Farhan, his wife, and their four sons moved in with his parents while their savings went to one son’s health care. He stored “half of my house” in his electronics shop to maximize space.
Rioters looted Farhan’s electronics shop on the night after police shot Jacob Blake. They burned down his shop the next night. The rioters also looted and burned his brother’s shoe and clothing store next door. The apartment units above their stores burned with them, as did many other buildings in the working-class neighborhood of Uptown Kenosha. The tenants survived, but several pets died and personal belongings burnt up in the blazes.
The Farhans have insurance, though they say it won’t be enough. Personal items they stashed in the shops were not insured. Farhan said he does not know how he will replace his children’s winter clothes as temperatures drop.
“I have no job, and I’m using credit cards,” Farhan said. “I’m going into debt and I just got out of debt.”
In a stunningly candid passage, the Times reporter admitted that “Many on the left decry anyone who criticizes looting, arguing that it is a justifiable expression of rage, widely quoting (out of context) the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that ‘a riot is the language of the unheard.'”
Bowles dedicated a great deal of her article to those attacks, noting an article from Refinery29 claiming, “Putting the focus on stealing objects from a store (during a pandemic, no less!) rather than on the injustice behind the looting, the horrific loss of life and racial violence that Black folks live with every day, is sending teh message that property matters more than people. It just demonstrates the way that white supremacy sees more value in a TV set than in the lief of a Black man.”
Yet Bowles rightly countered that “many of the small businesses in Kenosha’s lower- and middle-income Uptown neighbhorhood will not receive enough in insurance proceeds to fully replace destroyed property. And many business owners across Kenosha describe the losses in more personal ways.”
So, losing one’s home or one’s business in looting and arson is “personal”? Who knew?
“We lived here, basically,” Scott Carpenter, the owner of B&L Furniture, whose family ran the shop for 40 years, told The New York Times. “It was our home away from home.” When the store burned down, Carpenter lost his livelihood along with a play area with games and old NASCAR memorabilia he and his father built for local kids. Even though he had insurance, the loss is deeply personal.
The New York Times also found a way to justify reporting on the destruction in social justice terms. “One pattern that emerged in the aftermath of the riots in Kenosha: Many white-owned businesses like Mr. Carpenter’s had better, more comprehensive insurance and records than those owned by people of color, according to several leaders in the business community,” Bowles wrote.
While this anecdote seems to prop up the idea of “institutional racism,” Bowles did not seem to acknowledge that rioters motivated by fighting “institutional racism” perpetrated serious damage to black and minority communities. The destruction disproportionately hit black communities in Kenosha, Wisc., Minneapolis, and Chicago. The riots destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 26 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black.
The New York Times has itself propped up the destructive ideology fueling the riots. Times staffers pressured the paper’s op-ed editor James Bennet to resign for merely agreeing to publish an op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) acknowledging the importance of peaceful protest but calling for law and order against the destructive. In September, the Times published a report suggesting that any violence in the riots came from police and “right-wing activists.”
Over the past year, the Times has pushed the “1619 Project,” which originally claimed that the true founding of the United States came with the arrival of the first black slaves in 1619, rather than with the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In September, the Times attempted to shove this fact down the memory hole, deleting the key text from its interactive website and sending the project’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, on television to claim she never said 1619 was America’s true founding.
Perhaps the paper wished to deep-six this claim because it inspires riots. Portland activist Lilith Sinclair provided a chilling example of how claims of “institutional racism” and the Marxist critical race theory behind them inspire an aimless revolution. “There’s still a lot of work to undo the harm of colonized thought that has been pushed onto Black and indigenous communities,” she said. As examples of “colonized thought,” she mentioned Christianity and the “gender binary.” She said she organizes for “the abolition of … the “United States as we know it.”
When vandals toppled a statue of George Washington in Portland, they spray-painted “1619” on the statue. When Claremont’s Charles Kesler wrote in The New York Post, “Call them the 1619 riots,” 1619 Project Founder Nikole Hannah-Jones responded (in a since-deleted tweet) that “it would be an honor” to claim responsibility for the destructive riots. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called for the “dismantling” of America’s “economy and political system,” in order to root out supposed racist oppression.
The Times was right to finally write about the destruction of the riots, but it seems too little, too late.
Why did America’s newspaper of record wait until after the election to publish this story? Perhaps the editors of The New York Times feared that reporting these truths would help President Donald Trump’s reelection. After all, Trump has loudly called for law and order. He has denounced Marxist critical race theory and the 1619 Project.
A Media Research Center survey suggested that the legacy media and Big Tech may have thrown the election to Democrat Joe Biden by suppressing the bombshell stories from Hunter Biden’s laptop in the lead-up to Election Day. Did the Times also skew the election by refusing to report on this damage until afterward?
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.