Property Destruction as Violence

Nikole Hannah-Jones said, “Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man’s neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. To use the same language to describe those two things is not moral.”

It is obviously true that murdering a man is a much higher order of moral crime that breaking someone’s shop windows, vandalizing a building, looting a store, or even burning a store down. No doubt.

But obviously destroying someone’s property is a type of violence against the person. As I replied, “There have been many, many white riots to destroy the property of African Americans, Asian Americans, and other racial minorities. That was violence, because destroying a person’s livelihood or home undermines the person’s life.”

Thankfully, today insurance covers much of the damage of the rioting and looting, which means simply that the rioters and looters impose the costs of repair and replacement on their neighbors via their insurance premiums.

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