Don't Get Too Mad at College Students for Thinking Rioting and Looting Is Okay

AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa

I want to be clear before I begin about college students. I don’t think they’re evil.

The amount of college-aged kids who think looting and rioting is an okay thing is shocking and worrisome for sure. According to the Foundation for Economic Education, a recent poll found that 65 percent of students thought that rioting and looting was an okay thing to do:

The poll was conducted by Mclaughlin & Associate in conjunction with Yale University’s conservative William F. Buckley Program. It surveyed a nationally representative sample of 800 college students on a wide array of issues, from the coronavirus to race in America.

One key finding from the poll was that 64 percent of college students agreed that “the recent rioting and looting is justified to some degree.” Only 28 percent disagreed with this assessment.

The question asked of them was an agree/disagree question of “Due to the systemic racism in our country and the countless number of Black Americans who have been wrongfully targeted and murdered by police officers, the recent rioting and looting is justified to some degree. Something needs to change and we need to draw attention to this problem by whatever means necessary.”

The question is a bit loaded but the kicker is that most college students don’t know that at all. So much is working against a student to come to a conclusion on this that is anything but sensical.

For one, they’re woefully misinformed. College-aged students are constantly being dogged with propaganda from both popular internet sources such as “Now This” and YouTube clips featuring the likes of Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel on YouTube. Politics has invaded TikTok to a massive degree. They’re constantly being bombarded with leftist messaging and so they truly believe that our political discourse is a question of good vs. evil.

They’ve also been led to believe that rioting and looting are akin to a victimless crime because, as they’ve been told, insurance will cover damages and big corporations can just absorb the cost anyway. That’s not always the case as many of the businesses hit are private ones and they may never recover.

FEE puts this well:

Many left-leaning young people likely rooted their disdain for property rights in the notion that they only really matter to “Big Business” or “the rich.” (And themselves, of course). This is mistaken. In fact, the rich, safe neighborhoods aren’t the ones being looted. The destructive acts are disproportionately victimizing urban, poorer neighborhoods and minority-owned businesses.

And the long-term fallout of attacks on property rights haunts society’s most vulnerable the most. As famed economist Thomas Sowell put it, property rights “belong legally to individuals, but their real function is social, to benefit vast numbers of people who do not themselves exercise these rights.”

This leads to the crux of the problem. The college-aged kids are suffering from pure ignorance due to inexperience.

Very few of these kids have ever built a business or had to sustain one. They’ve never had to jump through the hoops of opening a business, paying taxes on it, or putting their time and effort into making sure it’s run properly. Most of them have only worked part-time jobs or internships.

They don’t know what it is to create and sustain. It’s oftentimes hard to understand what you haven’t experienced, and these kids haven’t experienced much, even at their age.

Moreover, they don’t know when they’re being served a heaping load of BS.

Mix this ignorance with bad messaging and the piss-and-vinegar desire to change the world that comes with youthfulness and you have what amounts to a bunch of kids who have been convinced that doing evil is doing good.

Again, these kids aren’t evil, they’ve just been lied to. A lot. They’ve been lied to by the media, their professors, and adults they trust. They’ve been conditioned to ignore anyone from a certain ideology having been convinced through lies and deceit that anyone from that side is evil. They believe that there are no more options except to riot because they’ve been told that by people who benefit from it politically.

They’re not evil, they’re just ignorant, and that’s hardly their fault. They’re young and malleable. They’re surrounded by people who know that and want to take advantage of it in order to turn them into obedient little foot soldiers. They’re being used.

I’m not saying that these kids aren’t fully blameless. There’s a level of right and wrong that should be understood even without political interference. Those who actually go out and begin rioting and looting cross a line and they should be punished harshly for their actions. “Don’t break, steal, or do harm” are lessons you begin learning not long after you start walking.

Most students don’t cross the line into actually committing the act but it’s been happening now more than ever. There’s a source of this problem.

If we really want to help these kids, we’re going to have to invade and dominate both academia and the media. We can’t just sit back and complain about it anymore.