The riot


The real truth about the riot:

It’s not racial, it’s not exactly conflict theory, it’s not about social class or a revolution. It’s about violence.

Violence for violence’s sake achieves nothing. It doesn’t have to. Time and time again it has been proven that we love violence. We love it. We turn our heads to look for casualties when there’s a traffic accident. We stick our heads out the windows when we hear a commotion. We play games and watch films that feature decapitation and gore, so much so that we’re desensitized. We need a new level of high. We need the real thing.

That, and mob mentality at it’s best. You feel a sense of invulnerability. They can’t get you. You’re just one in a few hundred. It’s not a racial inclination. It’s a social theory and really, had you been there in the heat of the moment, dare you say you wouldn’t throw a bottle or two if ‘everyone else was doing it’.

Of course, no disrespect. Riots are serious. People get hurt, some lose their lives and property is damaged. The repercussions can be massive, long after people stop posting facebook updates about it. Lives change because of riots.

Yet, the ugliest side of the riot, this particular riot, is not the violence, the hurt or the damage but the sheer revelation that a large number of us lack the insight and sensitivity to understand that aggression and violence can arise from minor altercations and that this particular incident has little to do with race. It may have happened to a particular race for a variety of reasons (poverty, oppression and whatnot) but it was not racially driven. Studies suggest that people with less to lose are more likely to throwdown. Then again, we don’t really need studies to know that. It is entirely circumstantial and all in ‘the heat of the moment’. Things escalate quickly and it goes out of hand the next minute. People go crazy, people throw things, destroy cars and hurt other people but really, we fail to realize that the rage is and has been in everyone of us all along. We need to learn from this and thread lightly.

You could suggest that it is perhaps a cultural issue, where the people involved in the riot were accustomed to such phenomenon in their country of origin and they, for a moment, forget that they are no longer in their country. Even if this were true, to say that they should all be deported and kicked out of our country makes you a simple fool. It disrespects the people who bear arms to protect the peace and freedom. Not so long ago our ancestors came here for a better life, who are we to claim ownership of this land to the extent where we suggest kicking people out, especially in a country where nobody is really a ‘native’ local?

The physical riot may have taken place in little India one Sunday night on this sunny island yet we are blind towards our own rioting on social platforms. We curse and we swear, we hurl demeaning words at people without any sense of  truth and we criticize the people on scene. We’re rowdy, we’re proud, we’re violent with words and we type before we think. We’re bigots.

The question remains, ‘what sparked the riot?‘ The real question would be ‘who do we blame?’. It is easy to attribute blame yet attribution is a funny thing. In the area of social psychology, we have the self-serving bias, where we attribute our successes to internal factors and blame our misfortunes on external factors  and the fundamental attribution error where we do the opposite for other people. This is magnified with prejudice, bias and racism and all it took was one Sunday night to reveal a people so full of hatred. A (part of a) nation of arrogant, elitist, xenophobic racists.

Fortunately, we do have people sensible enough to either not say anything or say things that are sensible.

Still, riots are bad.

To quote the late, great Martin Luther King Jr,

The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.




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