MINOT, N.D. — I can't help but feel terrible for the organizers of the George Floyd protests around the country who now have to stand in front of news cameras, and take to social media, to apologize and disavow violence and criminal activities they never wanted to happen.
What a galling thing.
I have some familiarity with the feeling.
Circa 2009 I was a young blogger and participated in organizing "tea party" rallies around the state. When that movement started it was something very pure and beautiful. Citizens coming together to express deep-seated concerns over the way our country was being governed.
But then some extreme elements turned up at our events. People holding obnoxious signs, or doing and saying obnoxious things. Eventually, our movement was co-opted by grifters and political operatives who turned it into something very cynical.
Those were not people I wanted to be associated with, but how do you stop them from showing up to an open rally? How do you stop the news media -- made up of left-leaning journalists who are deeply skeptical of conservative initiatives anyway -- from lumping you in with them?
It was deeply frustrating.
I suspect that's how many of the Floyd protest organizers are feeling today. They wanted to express a necessary and appropriate rage over very real law enforcement abuses and it got overshadowed by idiots setting fires.
Now they're stuck standing in front of news cameras apologizing for things they didn't do and didn't want to happen.
Worse, there are some who believe the violence is appropriate. That somehow burning down businesses and residences owned by people who have nothing to do with police violence is just appropriate collateral damage in some new war.
You don't have to go very far to find these people who have concluded that the ends justify the means. They're on Twitter and Facebook.
They're even columnists for your local news outlet.
It's a dangerous way of thinking.
To illustrate the danger, let's talk about another activist from another era of American history who was upset about law enforcement abuse.
He watched the ATF essentially murder two people during a standoff in Idaho (the federal government has never admitted to wrongdoing, but they did make a monetary settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit).
He watched the ATF turn a small investigation into some minor weapons violations in Texas into a 51-day siege that resulted in the deaths of 82 U.S. citizens, including 76 who were burned alive.
Timothy McVeigh took what happened in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, and used it as justification for a fertilizer bomb detonated outside a federal building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and wounded some 680 more.
Like many of the folks who justify the violence of the George Floyd protests, McVeigh thought he was acting righteously, too.
He wasn't. He was a monster who murdered innocents.
We must all condemn the monsters who feel their causes are so just it warrants inflicting pain and suffering on innocents.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.