This is what happens when the only US history you’ve ever learned was a single PowerPoint slide repeated ad infinitum.
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) June 24, 2020
To be more precise, this is what happens when mobs form, regardless of the supposed reason for their formation. “The joy of violent movement pulls you under,” as James Hetfield sang. Mobs, by their nature, are thoughtless, destructive beasts. Arguing about whether this is all in response to police brutality or systemic racism or three months of lockdown is like arguing about which flea on the elephant’s back is responsible for steering it. In one sense, a careful study of history could possibly inoculate people against the mob virus, by reminding us how little we know, by illustrating how little actually changes throughout history, and by instilling in us humility and gratitude for the past achievements of those wiser, better, and more courageous than we’ll ever be. On the other hand, one doesn’t have to look far to find many conventionally-intelligent people who have managed to study history without learning anything important, except for how to cherry-pick grievances to fuel their insatiable resentment. Anyone who looks into the face of the mob hoping to see a reflection of reason and idealism will only find the abyss of impulsive nihilism gazing back at them.