Progressive privilege: Lefties making excuses for two lawyers arrested for Molotov cocktail firebombing of police car in Brooklyn
Forget about the purported "white privilege" over which the left obsesses, the genuinely privileged class in America's big cities consists of radical progressives, who flout mask requirements at mass demonstrations, deface public property with graffiti, and riot and destroy while being called "mostly peaceful demonstrators."
Perhaps the worst example of open and sustained advocacy of this privilege can be found in a five thousand word-plus article that could be mistaken for a Babylon Bee parody. The "Intelligencer" column of New York Magazine seeks to excuse the crimes committed by two educated young lawyers who threw a lighted Molotov cocktail into a New York City police car during the Black Lives Matter riots the night of May 29–30, following George Floyd's death. Author Lisa Miller obviously has no grasp of the progressive privilege for which she argues while excusing the actions of people with whose politics she agrees, endorsing the notion that they should be immune to the penalties of law others must face because they are special...and better.
The two rioters grabbed national attention when they were arrested because of their elite and privileged backgrounds.
Photo credit: U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Colinford Mattis, on the left, embodies elite credentials via affirmative action — "plucked" is Miller's word — from East New York and educated at elite St. Andrew's prep, Princeton (where he was a member of two elite eating clubs), and NYU Law. Urooj Rahman, born in Pakistan and brought to the USA at age 4 by her immigrant parents, made do with public high school and Fordham University for undergraduate and law school education, to become an officer of the court and thereby enjoy special privileges and obligations of members of bar, with a special obligation to uphold the rule of law.
So certain of her privilege was Rahman on the night of her firebombing that she gave an interview and allowed herself to be photographed with one of her two prepared Molotov cocktails in hand, sitting next to Mattis in his minivan.
Photo credit: U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
If you can suppress your gag reflex, reading Miller's entire article is a tour of the elite progressive mindset in which others are always to blame for their own misbehavior, and holding two officers of the court responsible for the crimes they allegedly committed is unfair.
More than 200 people were arrested in New York City on the night of May 29–30, including Rahman, who is 31, and Mattis, who is 32. Most of the demonstrators were released the next day, but Rahman and Mattis were held for hours at the 88th Precinct in Clinton Hill, interrogated, taken into federal custody, and finally charged with seven federal crimes — including arson, conspiracy, and the commission of a "crime of violence" using a "destructive device," a charge that carries, if they are convicted, a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years. Altogether, Rahman and Mattis each face nonnegotiable sentences of 45 years to life. (snip)
To be a lawyer is to agree to play by the rules, or at least to acknowledge that the rules exist, even as you seek to bend them. And it is this simplistic, romantic understanding of a lawyer's job that is part of what has the government so provoked, as if going to law school is or should be a safeguard against breaking the law. (snip)
... to work within that system is to understand just how capricious and brutal criminal justice can be — the enormous latitude given to prosecutors, the deference extended to judges and juries, and the procedural protocols and professional ethics that often merely cover for the status quo. And when a president and his advisers seem to regard the law as an obstacle course; when an attorney general metes out favors, not justice; and when immigrant children are held in cages and men are killed on video by police, some lawyers may want to embrace a more flexible definition of "lawless."
Progressive friends of the privileged miscreants agree that they are special and better than the rest of us:
... some of Mattis and Rahman's friends may concede in private that throwing a Molotov cocktail represents a lapse in judgment, but none are willing to discuss the degree to which their friends may have been ethically, professionally, morally, or legally out of bounds. Instead, they emphasize that violence against government property, especially in the midst of political upheaval, is not the same as violence against a person; that the prosecution of their friends for an act of what amounted to political vandalism is far more extreme than the crime itself; that it amounts to a criminalization of dissent and reflects a broader right-wing crusade against people of color and the progressive left — and, as such, demonstrates precisely the horror of the system they were out in the streets that night to protest. There is a version of the Rahman and Mattis story in which they are civil-rights heroes, even martyrs, instead of professionals who crossed a line.
These are people the least deserving of this kind of treatment, their friends say, people who are unfailingly kind, gentle, and decent. Rahman gave a piece of her apartment floor in Athens, Greece, where she was working during the migrant crisis, to a queer Syrian refugee in an abusive relationship; Mattis turned around on his way to vacation to sit by a friend's hospital bed after she'd suffered a stillbirth. After college, Mattis worked for Teach for America in New Orleans and later won a prize for his pro bono work helping a single mother get child support. Rahman worked in Northern Ireland and on behalf of hill-tribe people in Thailand and was a student of South African apartheid. Over the past year, she started attending Friday-night meetings of an informal Sufi spiritual group and had recently given a short talk to a Muslim women's group about the sacredness of every single life, including those of animals — which is why she tried to be a vegetarian although sometimes fell short. She joked that she was a "slackaterian" or "vegetrying."
As law professor Glenn Reynolds notes:
The prisons are full of people who do something violent in a "moment of madness." And the cemeteries are full of their victims. These two were better prepared than most to act sensibly in the face of temptation, or should have been.
Violent, bloody revolutions are usually waged by ruthless educated people who become monsters because they are so convinced of their righteousness. Maximilien Robespierre, who had thousands executed during the French Revolution only to lose his own head to Dr. Guillotine's invention, was a lawyer. The highly educated are the most dangerous because they live in their heads and can convince themselves of anything.
I see the actions of Mattis and Rahman not as temporary lapses, but rather as the product of their warped and dangerous thinking, a serious danger to the public. Making a Molotov cocktail requires premeditation. Their very privilege and status argue for harsher rather than more lenient treatment for their planned and executed terroristic crime.
Let the wheels of justice turn, and the eventual verdict serve to, in Napoleon's words, "encourage the others."