It's true that Ariel Atkins, one of the members of the Chicago chapter of the Black Lives Matter Organization, inspired this piece after she catapulted herself into a national story before the assembled media cameras last week. Here was their money shot:
“I don’t care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike store, because that makes sure that person eats,” Atkins said. “That is reparations. Anything they wanted to take, they can take it because these businesses have insurance.”
For a moment, let's ignore the going street value of smerch like Gucci handbags, old school Nike kicks, or the women's autumn cardigan collection at Macy's.
I'm not going to comment on Ariel Atkins as I don't really blame Ariel Atkins. Whether she actually believes her quotes plastered across the headlines or will continue to believe them long into the future does not matter much (even if she did double down on the comments with WBEZ later in the week). I assume she's a young person caught in an emotional moment far bigger than her perspective and pushed in front of a camera to be used as a political mouthpiece/pawn for far better funded individuals and organizations on both sides and it could have been any number of people not named Ariel Atkins we'd have spent this last week talking about. Both sides who know damn well the ridiculousness of all of...this.
To reiterate, it's not Ariel Atkins the person that bothers me, it is the argument. It is the amount of times I've heard this argument or seen it posted on social media recently and pushed by people who should know better that is far more than a little disturbing. It occurred to me that maybe the feigned ignorance and plastiche pandering, pusillanimously or otherwise, of those who should know better was not, as it appeared to be, all an act to score political talking points while the city is turned over.
Maybe these people that should know better need a bit of a refresher? Maybe they're truly unaware of how insurance works? Clueless as to what happens before and after a business purchases an insurance policy? Confused about what happens after a claim or multiple claims? Lost when trying to understand how rioting and looting affects local communities? You know, aside from the whole...silly little personal safety and individual responsibility thing?
It was at this point that I had originally planned to include a detailed outline of the Property/Casualty insurance process, as if taking the beginner and the uneducated from start to finish, but I stopped myself.
I stopped myself because, first, I remembered no one wants to listen to their own insurance broker explain the details of their own insurance policies and how the insurance company came to their premium bottom line let alone have it be shoehorned into a political commentary on a website with an even smaller following than those who would respond to a survey asking if they'd be interested in hearing those details from their insurance broker. Second, the idea that looting and rioting is "good" for a community or does anything to promote the general welfare of a community is so idiotic and such simple rhetorical nonsense that it should not need explanation and even those with our most common of senses should immediately dismiss the thought as quickly as it is received. And third, if I were to do that, it would require me to, for a moment, pretend that it is a legitimate argument. It would require me to pretend it's not the utterly laughable idea that it is which, under normal circumstances, would be treated as such. Unfortunately, we do not live in such normal times.
And, so sorry, I just can't do that. So, skipping the fundamentals regarding Property/Casualty insurance, let's move on to the larger issue at hand.
If you're confused by the tacit approval and eager acquiescence and casual consideration by certain members of your media and political leaders and acquaintances among your social media feeds, don't be. I assure you, you are not alone. You are not crazy. This bizarre effort to relitigate societal order and rewrite history and the attending attempts to repackage and remarket and resell this new narrative as some sort of legitimate form of protest is patently absurd. Pretending that this is a legitimate argument does disservice to actual ideological debate in modern American discourse and clouds over the wholesale shakedown this line of thinking inevitably follows.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt because the alternative is too insidious, that this political and cultural leadership can not see that is just sad. Like living day-to-day as lost puppies.
Make no mistake, it is most certainly an old school, mafia-style shakedown. It's the exact same thing this city should have a well-trodden history of recognizing and dealing with. A shakedown in which those same companies listed above and many others are diving into their pockets to pay "tribute" and falling over each other rushing to the front of the line to pay their protection money so their stores and their businesses are not mysteriously firebombed like they were in the good ol' days of this city when the Outfit was taking over.
No, this next narrative is nothing more than what it once was. This next narrative has merely been given a fresh paint job with a quick fix to the facade to boost its curb appeal like something you'd see on reality HGTV. The foundation and "the bones" of this old house are the same.
It's a moth-eaten script found in a Hollywood basement rewritten with better writers more handsomely paid. I'd take it further and outline how it's positively Orwellian if the metaphor had not already become so cliché.
But, this time, there is a subtle difference. This time, to the dismay of us all, the difference is that your political leaders and those who would influence your opinion have, like all low-level soldiers recruited into la cosa nostra, selfishly bought into the type of lifestyle that keeps them firmly in charge of their community syndicates and allows them to rule by implicit threat to the detriment and damnation of their neighbors. Therein lies the danger.
So the next time you're shocked and upset after the all-seeing actuaries have crunched their numbers and analyzed their crystal balls and your insurance broker has presented your annual insurance premium before you, remember these days at the ballot box. The next time your favorite "Mom and Pop Shop" closes because they can no longer afford to stay in business due to rioting and looting that your elected have chosen to appease, remember these days at the ballot box. The next time the large corporation that employs many people in your community decides it's just not worth the investment to stick around a town that can't seem to care about itself let alone care for their participation, remember these days at the ballot box. And the next time your neighbors and friends decide enough is enough is enough and finally pull stakes and head for greener and safer pastures, remember these days at the ballot box.
Because Chicago is running out of next time's.
Wildeboer, R., & Mitchell, C. (2020, August 12). 'Winning Has Come Through Revolts': A Black Lives Matter Activist On Why She Supports Looting. Retrieved August 22, 2020, from https://www.wbez.org/stories/winning-has-come-through-revolts-a-black-lives-matter-activist-on-why-she-supports-looting/398d0f3f-73d0-4f2e-ae32-04cceba0d322. ↩︎
Yes, I just made up the word "plastiche." It's a portmanteau of "plastic" and "pastiche." ↩︎
I had written a lot of words on the topic, too, and I was a little disappointed to delete it. ↩︎
An actuary is a financial professional who analyzes consequences of risk using a combination of mathematics, statistics, and theory to study uncertain future events. ↩︎