While reviewing the Baltimore mayhem on Thursday’s Morning Joe, Ben Goldberger of Time magazine said that these riots were just like the those of the 60's. “For nine months now we've all been covering and talking about the sort of spasms in Ferguson and North Charleston, in New York. And they're all prompted by policemen's conduct, but that's the result, not the cause.”
Few people in the world are gifted as much as the media in tracing riots back to economic inequality. “The causes are much deeper, far more systemic, and they are 50 years of income inequality and inequality of opportunity and those are the very same things that people were protesting and even rioting for 50 years ago."
Did Goldberger live through the ‘60s? He doesn’t look that old. (He came to Time through Huffington Post Chicago.) Did he see any films about it? Most of the protests were over Vietnam and civil rights. Any protests over income inequality took a backseat.
Since he is convinced that economic motives were driving the rioters (as opposed to free-will decisions to commit evil acts), Goldberger felt that the police were in over their head. “I think that was actually the president's point, which he made rather eloquently just the other day,” he said. "We've thrown the police into the front lines to try to deal with a host of problems that are not just a matter of criminal acts. They are there to try to solve a range of different social ills they may be ill-equipped for."
Adding to Goldberger's line of thought was former ABC morning anchor Bianna Golodryga. “We’ve talked about how this is a ticking time bomb. And as an American immigrant to this country, you know my son’s going to be a first generation born here, I think about the American dream in that perspective, I think what we've lost perspective on is the American dream for people who have been here for generations. We're focusing on immigrants moving to this country now, which is all great, but what about those that have been living here for decades that have been suffering and we're finally hearing their rage right now?"
Goldberger concluded his economically reductionist assessment by taking issue with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's labeling of the rioters as thugs. "Even though she comes from a far more comfortable background than Freddie Gray, her father was a very powerful legislator in Maryland, her mother was a doctor, she went to Oberlin, she hasn't been immune to violence on the streets. And her cousin was actually shot. She knows a little bit from this, which, I think, is why people were all the more alarmed when she used the word 'thugs' to describe this happening, cause it created a degree of distance that she really could not have afforded to put forward."
MSNBC's message seems to be as follows: if you burn down a CVS building after a man dies in police custody, it is not your fault. You have no free will and can’t help but erupt riotous rage in response to failed American dreams and bad economics. This justifies your rampage, even as it disrespects the part of the population who remain law-abiding citizens in the face of suffering.