Rachel Maddow understands the utility of a good old-fashioned riot.
While not exactly born and bred in the rough-and-tumble inner city (unless the green pastures of Stanford and Oxford count), Maddow has a wonderful vantage point—from her MSNBC news desk in New York City—to observe the little people and their affairs. Sadly, on Tuesday night, Maddow did not stop at mere observation or (despite what she frequently claims) straight reporting.
Around 10 p.m., as the Baltimore riots burned to an ember, a reflective Maddow waxed philosophic with her counterpart, Toure (himself a graduate of Milton Academy, Emory University, and Columbia University), on the virtues of violent rebellion.
Toure: To speak to something that you said earlier that was very interesting…when the protests escalate to something violent then, yes, the national media comes and the world pays attention…but it becomes hard to create a broad coalition of national sympathy for your position when you are being violent…you are taking one step forward but three steps back…
Maddow: Right, it’s the great strategic conundrum: violence builds nothing, but it does get you a heck of a lot of attention…right now people are saying [we] would not be here had there not been violence in the community…I think they’re right, I think they’re right, and the question is how to build a constructive, forward thinking…movement in a way that still gets them the attention they need…
The comments by Toure and Maddow are shameful and should be condemned. In very explicit terms, the MSNBC hosts are pointing to, and advocating for, the utility of violence to call attention to social or political issues. In this exchange, both Toure and Maddow speak of violence in terms of a pre-condition that must be fulfilled before (presumably non-violent) change can occur.
Normally, this kind of riot-mongering would cause me greater consternation, but, thanks to the fact this was MSNBC’s lowest rated month in 10 years, I’m sure no one paid any mind.