JARVIS BEST: Riots Aren’t Meant To Be Practical — They’re Poetic

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Jarvis Best Contributor
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I love riot season! Every spring, the long winter frost starts to melt, the birds return with their happy songs and the bees enjoy the new tulips peeking up through the rich earth. Beautiful young Americans too, at their physical and aesthetic peak, emerge from their winter sleep. With their hearts full of love, they gaze at the renewed land and think to themselves how they could change the world if only they could rough up a janitor at Columbia or set up a Jew checkpoint on the quad in UCLA.

Yes, riot season is a beautiful time.

Riots are always in the spring. It has to be spring, preferably in an election year. Spring and election years both carry the romantic notion of growth and change, especially for the young. A new world can be made for those who show up to build it.

The George Floyd riots of spring 2020 had everything going for them — not just spring, but spring after months of fear and lockdown, plus a contentious upcoming election. Sure, people were mad about George Floyd, but what we really wanted was to get outside, meet up with our beloved friends and see the cities burn.

Four years later, we are rioting again, but it feels somewhat disconnected from the nominal cause. Can these kids even locate Gaza on a map? The media asked one young woman at an NYU protest why she was there, and she said it was to show “support for Palestine.” When asked what specifically she wanted to happen, she confessed she had no idea. Students in Canada defaced their own university by painting “FREE PALASTINE” in large letters on their administration building, which was a pretty good guess at how that place is spelled. Do not, under any circumstances, ask these kids to identify with particularity the “river” and sea” they cite in their little chants. They do not know.

But the specifics aren’t the point. The people of Gaza are certainly not the point. The point is that we’re expressing ourselves. It isn’t about the issues. It’s about us.

So why say that the riots are poetic? Because they have all the elements of a great poem:

– beautiful spring imagery
– youthful passion
– fiery conflict
– and most importantly, symbolism.

The campus riots are deeply symbolic. In fact, like a great poem, the symbolism is the whole point. The protests obviously have no chance of freeing Gaza, which is badly losing a war it started with Israel. Opinion polls on the war have been virtually unchanged throughout the campus protests, as are Biden’s approval numbers. Campuses are not divesting from Israel or weapons manufacturers, and even if they did, it would not make a big difference.

These questions — poll numbers, policy choices, the mechanics of arms sales — are all merely practical. But riots and poems are certainly not meant to be practical.

Poems are passionate and romantic and symbolic, but not practical. Whether the riots achieve anything in the real world is entirely beside the point.

A few days ago, hundreds of protestors waving Palestinian flags (symbolic!) marched on the Met Gala in Manhattan, a symbol of elite American decadence. A counterprotestor showed up with an American flag (symbolic!), but a man wearing a keffiyeh (symbolic!) stole it. Protestors then burned American and Israeli flags (symbolic!) and then desecrated a World War I memorial (symbolic!).

Why march on the Met? What do these people hope to accomplish?

It matters not. Poetry is poetry for its own sake.

Jarvis Best, an anonymous internet personality, is a writer and lawyer from Denver, Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @jarvis_best.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.