The Morning After the Riots End

There will come a morning when the protests stop, the riots end, the fires are extinguished, and insufficiently woke editors will cease to be intimidated.

The Democratic leadership will no longer wear kente cloth or take a knee.

Before us will be shopping malls littered with shards of glass and merchandise that looters couldn’t carry off. The burned-out vehicles and rubble of once-viable businesses will scar our communities.

The notion of people of color will become less meaningful as the Korean dry cleaner weeps over the ruins of his business. The Palestinian-American in Chicago looks at the liquor store he inherited from his father and wonders if he can rebuild the business.

The Asian restaurant owner whose small take-out establishment supported a family and sent two children to college will wonder where to begin again. The Mexican-American business owner will wonder why he was targeted. The black firefighter who built a sports bar that was burned to the ground will ask the same question.

The corporate directors of the smoldering manufacturing facilities will consider pulling up stakes. There are no riots in rural America. 

The injured or assassinated police, be they white, black, or any other color, will be remembered by their fellow officers and many in their communities as having been blue -- the only color that mattered.

The woke statements by businesses will subside. The harsh physical and economic reality of damaged lives wrought by the riots will set in.

A national commission will be established to investigate the riots. It will be peppered with addle-brained progressive academics who will make ethereal pronouncements from their cloistered sinecures in the ivy-covered groves of academia.

They will find justification for violence, thus violating the basic tenet that a just cause does not justify moral violence.

They will talk about two Americas and will probably agree with California Governor Gavin Newsom that white people caused the riots. The report will be long on concepts like structural racism, income inequality and police brutality, but short on the people who suffered at the hands of the rioters or the police who were injured or assassinated.  It will ignore how the riots have changed America.

The small businesses burned to the ground will find it difficult to get insurance and most likely will not be able to rebuild. Reinvestment in devastated communities will come -- to the extent it does -- from large chains.

The communities hit the hardest will see the prices of goods and services rise with the increasing cost of business insurance.

Inner cities will see their unemployment rates spike as manufacturing businesses seek safer havens in rural America.

Once marginal, middle-class entrepreneurs from immigrant families will become employees.

Children planning to go to college this fall will not be able to do so because the businesses that sustained their families will longer exist.

The media pundits will mouth the same tired refrains that will fall on deaf ears because they will be increasingly talking to each other, censoring each other, looking for anything that will slight or demean the people who rioted and looted.

They will justify the looter and fail to note that in this riot, as in most previous riots, it is black communities and black entrepreneurs who are disproportionately the victims of the vandals. It is black communities that will disproportionately have their economic infrastructure destroyed.

The police will be transformed. As the job becomes more difficult, less respected, and more dangerous, the officers who genuinely believe in the oath to serve and protect will be replaced by less-qualified recruits.

We will hear complaints of police failing to show up in the inner city. The police will be reluctant to make arrests. If rioters can go unprosecuted in the name of justice, other criminals can also go undetained in the name of justice.

The food deserts will expand and years from now we will hear complaints about the absence of grocery stores, dry cleaners, and other small businesses in the inner city.

Even corporations will find it easier to flaunt sympathetic slogans than to make risky investments.

The name George Floyd will be remembered by the same proportion of the population that remembers the name Rodney King.

The nonviolent protests and their goal of ending racism will be subsumed by the scars of violence. The violence divides us, for the people who lost their livelihoods need a target for their anger and frustration. 

In the brutal killing of George Floyd, competing interests have found their own symbols. But no one in a position of leadership has stood for all of us, has a vision that transcends the violence, and seeks our integration as one people.

On the morning after, we will have to ask what makes us Americans, and, more importantly, what enables us to respect our common humanity.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. His research on the urban riots of the 1960s won a Pi Sigma Alpha Award from the Western Political Science Association.

If you experience technical problems, please write to