What follows is not a discussion of the effectiveness or justification of black bloc tactics. I just think it might be helpful if everyone who is scandalized and horrified by the actions of a handful of protesters at the inauguration asked themselves the following questions:
Am I upset more by the breaking of windows owned by corporations that can afford to replace them, than by families having their homes foreclosed and becoming homeless because they can no longer afford their mortgage?
Am I outraged more by the overturning of a garbage can in a city street than by the wanton destruction of the planet’s environment – forests, mountains, water, air, habitats of living beings – in pursuit of wealth?
Am I disturbed more by a masked protester swinging a hammer at an inanimate object (which is not feeding, clothing, medically treating, or housing anyone) than I am by governments dropping bombs on civilians’ homes (and the occasional hospital) in other countries, killing innocent people with drones, and rendering water supplies unusable?
Am I scandalized more by someone punching a professed white nationalist in the face than by the disproportionate infliction of poverty and police violence on black Americans?
Do I find myself more threatened by the illegal destruction of private property during a protest than by the legal violence perpetrated by police on human beings during (for instance) the DAPL protests (eg. setting attack dogs on indigenous protesters including pregnant women and children, spraying them with water at night in freezing temperatures)?
And if so, why?
Again, this is not an argument for or against the effectiveness of these tactics, a defense of any particular action, or a dismissal of all criticism. I just think it might be revealing to explore why more outrage is expressed about these tactics than about the systems of oppression to which they are a response.