So you want to learn how to blame youth for injustice in your city? Well, you’ve come to the right place. I think the way Baltimore’s Freddie Gray protests have been handled can serve as a great template for assigning blame to a defenseless population.
First you have to start with a simmering kettle that is ready to explode.
Well…actually we should start with decades of injustice and criminal abuse of minorities by the city police department. Then you add a particularly nasty case of a man not charged with a crime, ending up dead in police custody. Then you come out and fail to show much compassion for the victims or the situation, making it clear that you care more about protecting the police department than all of the residents of the city. It is essential here that you also make it clear that you believe that there are residents who deserve dignity and some who don’t.
OK, then you make sure that a rumor starts a real panic at school. A rumor that gets parents to pick up their kids early. Choose something like the one that spread on Monday: that there will be a “purge”: a day of lawlessness based on the 2013 movie. That should get the youth scared and agitated: afraid of the violence that will be brought against them.
Then when many kids try to get home from school, prevent them from doing so by stopping their buses, unloading them in a public place, keep them from picking up the buses that would take them home, and surround them so that they feel trapped.
Also, in another part of the city, make sure that the white people at restaurants harass the peaceful adult marchers, throwing stuff at them. Make it clear that you don’t respect their dignity at all.
Then, when the situation explodes, it’s now time to assign the blame. Are you ready? Go!
1. Control your kids!
Make sure that the police commissioner comes out and starts blaming youth. Just go straight for it. Don’t mince words. Say things like
“[These high schoolers] thought it was cute to throw cinder blocks at police.”
Something good and condescending. Show them that you have no interest in hearing what they have to say because you have absolutely no respect for them at all. This is critical.
Make sure that you exclude the police’s role in inciting the events. Be deceptive. Make it sound like the police are the victims. It isn’t truly lying if you give the counterfactual narrative that the police were
outnumbered and outflanked
because at a later point that was actually true. It doesn’t help your position if you let people know that the exact opposite was true at the beginning.
You want to make sure the people really get this. So stick the landing. Anthony Batts did this perfectly. Talk past the youth and go straight to the parents
“Take control of your kids…This is our city. Let’s make a difference.”
See what he did there? The kids aren’t just the instigators and perpetrators of the violence: they have taken control of the city that isn’t theirs! They aren’t the real residents or the victims, they are the interlopers. Ignore the fact that they are likely to die 20 years sooner than people who live 6 miles away. That their prospects are severely limited. That they are being used as pawns by the police department. These ideas will provide sympathy for these creatures. You are not allowed sympathy for the scapegoat.
2. Get a presidential hopeful on board
The best time to blame youth for unrest is during a campaign season. And the best news about campaigning is that now it is always campaign season! But it is much better to deploy this strategy during the early days of a presidential campaign season because the hopefuls come out and make your case for you without any prompting!
And you know fortune can really smile on you when you can get a conservative libertarian who wants “big government” out of everything to try to square the circle of denying personal liberty! That is just too perfect! Instant credibility for your argument.
Not everyone gets the opportunity to have a candidate who has criminal justice reform as the central plank of his campaign come out on the side of the city, raising the bid of the commissioner and calling it! In this case, he blamed it on
the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers
which is to say the kids are lawless because the parents suck! That is the sort of gasoline that will blaze a mighty fire of passive behavior. The sort of thing that will definitely keep the peace. [Wink, wink]
3. Get the world involved
Now its time to get everyone involved. The media are like deer: they love the bright, shiny lights of fire and are mesmerized, intoxicated by its glow. They won’t cover the 10,000 peaceful marching, or even the objects thrown at them by the residents of the neighboring community. They’ll look at the 100 or so setting fires and looting. Also, the fires will prevent them from seeing that the community’s pastors are the ones who break up the violence, not the police. In this case, it was the community leaders, including pastors and members of city council who brought the tensions down and secured the neighborhood.
And while the iconic question “Can’t we all just get along?” is transformed from a plea to end police brutality to a plea to just go home and ignore your pain, the people will pass judgment on Facebook and Twitter. It will be there that they find their avatar:
The Mom who beats on her son
This is why the messaging is so important. It needs to take hold.
Take control of your kids.
They don’t need a voice. And really, you don’t either because others will do the dirty work for you. Because really, this is all about control, isn’t it? Not the truth or justice or actual peace. And definitely not dignity.