Baseball, apple pie, Fords, Corvettes and riots; an American tradition


Jake Gay, Reporter

   When asked about baseball in the blockbuster movie MoneyBall, Brad Pitt’s character said, “It’s hard not to get romantic about baseball.” 

      In accordance with that, you could say that it’s tough not to get romantic about the American Dream and American history. A great number of people don’t want to tax the rich because the American Dream tells us that some day we will be in those shoes. 

      What started in the bay of New York and the harbor of Boston has produced an incredibly dense history. The romance of it all spews out; farmers take on the greatest navy ever assembled, they build the land of free so each can say as they please and they produce a country that is built on Thomas Paine’s beliefs.

     One guaranteed freedom is the right to protest. What is not guaranteed is that anything will change from such protests. What is guaranteed is the right to safely protest. What is not guaranteed is the right to riot. 

     While it is fascinating and romantic to believe that landmark social-changes are brought about by protest, such a belief is also fictitious and irresponsible. The truth is American history shows that to really produce any meaningful change, usually rioting helps push things along.

     When the colonists were subjects of King George they studiously attempted to negotiate with him— nothing came of it. What did seem to get the King to rethink his tax policy was when a group of Bostonians destroyed an estimated 1,000,000 dollars worth of British tea in today’s money. That’s a successful protest.

     Not long after, America was left to govern itself. Many citizens were left without compensation for their efforts, and they were being represented by a weak governance. What a group of farmers decided to do…revolt. 

      This is known today as Shays’ rebellion, a rather large armed uprising of farmers that ended in the death of at least 12 Americans.

      Because of this (and other events) a group of trusted representatives headed to Philadelphia to draft The Constitution, and perhaps a Bill of Rights also. 

     Just under two centuries and a civil war later, Dr. Martin Luther King taught those seeking change to be courageous. Still today, Americans revere his peaceful protest. Unfortunately, Dr. King never lived to see The Civil Right act of 1968. In fact, after his death a massive civil uprising occurred in many prominent cities across the country, and not long after these riots took place, President Johnson called for the act to be passed immediately. 

     Only months after these riots took place, a small club in New York became the epicenter of riots and LQBTQ pride. What is known today as The Stonewall Riots was caused by a police raid and people who were ready to stand up for who they were. Historians look at this event as the beginning of the modern Pride movement. 

     Since its inception, Black Lives Matter values have produced peaceful protest as well as riots. Whether these actions are justified is not up to any journalist, nor is it for anyone to say if these riots along with peaceful protest will produce necessary change.

But what can be undeniably agreed is that in American history, change has been brought by riots. 

     While it is obvious that The United States is not a utopia it is also continuously getting better. The hope was never to create a perfect society, in fact when the framers decided to announce its creation they called it a “more perfect union,” meaning that though it is not always perfect, it is better than before and it should continue to trend that way. There is no doubt hypocrisy, hatred and polarization in our society and history. 

    Still, perhaps the romance will spew out after this “more perfect union” overcomes its undeniable shortcomings and can finally break the streak of at least one riot per decade.

     Hopefully one day there will be another way to revise society in this country. 

       Denounce or support riots as you must, but you can’t say they aren’t effective. After all MLK did say “riots is the language of the unheard.”  Maybe lend them an ear more often?