Netflix Answers Senators’ Letter About Three-Body Problem Series

2017 book signing: Liu Cixin. Photo by Daniel Dern

A Netflix executive has replied to the letter from five Republican senators challenging the company’s plans to produce a series based on Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem because the author, in a 2019 New Yorker interview, defended Chinese repression against the Uighurs. Netflix denies there is any connection between the projected series and Liu Cixin’s opinions that needs to be addressed.

Deadline published the full text of Netflix’s answer.

September 25, 2020
Senator Marsha Blackburn
Senator Rick Scott
Senator Kevin Cramer
Senator Thom Tillis
Senator Martha McSally
United States Senate

Washington,
DC 20510

Dear Senators Blackburn, Scott, Cramer, Tillis, and McSally:

Thank you for your letter from September 23, and your interest in the upcoming Netflix series adaptation based on The Three-Body Problem.

First, we’d like to note that Netflix does not operate a service in China.
We address your questions and concerns below:

Q: Does Netflix agree that the Chinese Communist Party’s interment of 1.8 to 3 million Uyghurs in internment or labor camps based on their ethnicity is unacceptable?

A: Absolutely. As the UN Declaration of Human Rights (which China has signed) states “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Q: In order to avoid any further glorification of the CCP’s actions against the Uyghurs, or validation of the Chinese regime and agencies responsible for such acts, what steps will Netflix take to cast a critical eye on this project – to include the company’s broader relationship with Mr. Liu?

A: Mr. Liu is the author of the books, not the creator of this series. Mr. Liu’s comments are not reflective of the views of Netflix or of the show’s creators, nor are they part of the plot or themes of the show.

Q: Were Netflix senior executives aware of the statements made by Mr. Liu Cixin regarding the CCP’s genocidal acts prior to entering into an agreement to adapt his work? If so, please outline the reasoning that led Netflix to move forward with this project. If not, please describe Netflix’s standard process of due diligence and the gaps therein that led to this oversight.

A: Mr. Liu is a Chinese citizen living in China – he is the author of the books, not the creator of this Netflix series. The creators are David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of Game of Thrones, and Alexander Woo, executive producer/writer on the series True Blood.

Q: Does Netflix have a policy regarding entering into contracts with public-facing individuals who, either publicly or privately, promote principles inconsistent with Netflix’s company culture and principles? If so, please outline this policy. If not, please explain why not.

A: Netflix judges individual projects on their merits. Mr. Liu is the author of the book – The Three Body Problem – not the creator of this show. We do not agree with his comments, which are entirely unrelated to his book or this Netflix show.

Sincerely,

Dean Garfield
Vice President, Global Public Policy
Netflix

43 thoughts on “Netflix Answers Senators’ Letter About Three-Body Problem Series

  1. @OGH

    Well….you never know. Sometimes it gets interesting and informative. 8*)

    also…click.

    Regards,
    Dann
    Every socialistic type of government… produces bad art, produces social inertia, produces really unhappy people, and it’s more repressive than any other kind of government. – Frank Zappa

  2. Well that’s impressively written corporate bullshit. Of course they should take into account his support of the Chinese policy of the repression and outright murders of ethnic minorities. No work of literature exists wholly separate from its writer as the debate we had here over the Astounding Award demonstrated. And it certainly doesn’t here either.

  3. Huh. Well, that’s pretty much a corporate eyeroll at what is largely a politically rather than morally driven objection by the senators. I do kind of see Netflix’s point too. While I have people whose work I won’t read, there are a lot of problematic authors whose books I’ve purchased over the years.

    I thought the Three Body Problem was a decent story poorly written, so I’m kind of interested to see if good writing can or will improve it.

  4. Andrew (not Werdna) exclaims @OGH: My faith is now justified.

    Not really. You could’ve taken a few moments and left a comment. I know you’ve got opinions!

  5. Liu Cixin is one individual who has no political or power platform, but has a spotlight on him, from the point of view of the Chinese government, if he makes any criticism of Chinese government policy.

    And these Senators have supported, not only Trump’s Chinese policy whatever you think of it, but his cheerleading for police being as brutal and violent as possible in response to Constitutionally protected peaceful protest, gleeful praise of reporters being shot with rubber bullets by police, and concerted efforts to suppress voting among people who aren’t likely to vote for him, and his refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he should happen to lose on Election Day.

    It’s not that China’s Uighur policy isn’t an appalling violation of human rights, to be absolutely condemned.

    It’s that these people have demonstrated that they don’t care about human rights at all, and don’t care even about the most basic features of our Constitution and two centuries of peaceful transfer of power that is one of the things that actually makes our country great.

  6. @Cat: Sorry. Some days I have less to say than others, but I’m always interested in what the rest of the gang has to say.

    I’m not impressed by Netflix’s response, but more revolted by people with the power to take real action about China choosing instead to take symbolic action (and of course, thoroughly revolted by China’s crimes). No one is coming off well here, really.

  7. Cheryl S. : I thought the Three Body Problem was a decent story poorly written, so I’m kind of interested to see if good writing can or will improve it.

    I thought the same. Unfortunately, given how poorly Benioff and Weiss did with GoT after the original source material ran out, I’m not convinced they’re capable of doing any better with this one.

  8. I don’t see how a gang of GOP hacks have much ground to stand on after all the bullshit, cruelty, and brutality they’ve enthusiastically dished up to any number of groups over the past four years.

  9. Question for Netflix: does Mr. Liu, private citizen with absolutely no connection to the Netflix TV series, derive any financial benefit from the show?

  10. @aziz: I suppose that depends on whether Netflix licensed the original Chinese novels or the English translation.

    Clearly we need to question the motives of the source of the letter to Netflix.

    Clearly we need to question Netflix’s response.

    Clearly, what is happening to the Uighurs far over-shadows either.

    Clearly, we must not have a Worldcon in China in 2023.

  11. This sounds like a bunch of lawyerly obfuscation. Netflix poses a bit of a conundrum for me. They produce a lot of genre content that runs the gamut from decent to great. I also enjoy a lot of their comedy specials.

    I dislike the fact that they distributed “Cuties”…. a lot. Deciding to produce an adaptation of Cixin Liu’s work isn’t a deal-breaker for me despite being thoroughly opposed to the government of the CCP. Maintaining a bit of separation between an author and their work is generally a good idea.

    @Lis Carey

    …his cheerleading for police being as brutal and violent as possible in response to Constitutionally protected peaceful protest….

    This probably isn’t the right place to go into this, but that statement doesn’t reflect what is actually happening. When assaults and arsons begin, the protest has ended and the rioting has commenced. The rules should be different for rioters.

    I live in a pretty conservative place. Almost everyone was in support of police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Tactics like “no-knock” raids are also not very popular. People are receptive to the idea that we are asking police to do tasks that they are ill-equipped to perform.

    The rioting and lack of response from some government units have undermined that support.

    Regards,
    Dann
    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. – Richard Grenier

  12. I read all three of the books. There was sympathy for the Chinese government and a more collectivist attitude than a Heinlein novel, for example. I thought it was interesting because I was reading a different viewpoint than a book written by an American, for example. But the novels soon take off into an epic world that has little to do with any 21st Century actions of China.

  13. @Dann
    Regarding “Cuties/Mignonnes”, the main issue here seems to be cultural disconnect. Because when I watched the trailer, I saw what looked like an immigrant coming of age drama with some scenes of prepubescent girls imitating popstars dancing. And pre-teens have been imitating pop stars for a long time now. When I was the age of the girls in the movie, my classmates and I were dressing up to imitating Madonna, Cyndie Lauper and Nena and occasionally singing inappropriate songs. And in the 1990s, there was a popular TV program called Mini Playback Show, where little kids imitated pop stars, which attracted some criticism for being inappropriate but not nearly as much as “Cuties/Mignonnes” attracted 25 years later.

    The idea behind “Cuties/Mignonnes” is apparently to show a young girl from an immigrant family growing up in the tension between conservative Islam and a hyper-sexualised form of western pop culture.The little girl joins the dance group to get away from her stifling home life, but the evntual point is that hyper-sexualised western culture is not the solution to her problems either. Does the movie manage to bring that point across? Opinions are divided about that.

    Should Netflix have distributed the movie? Most likely not or at least a lot more lowkey than they did. and not in all territories. Because “Cuties/Mignonnes” is a French film and the US is a lot more conservative with regard to sexuality than Europe in general and France in particular. And concerns about the sexualisation of pre-teens are growing everywhere. So Netflix could really have anticipated the backlash. And what they definitely shouldn’t have done is emphasize the sexualised dancing in the posters and trailer, especially since the original poster just shows the girls running down a street with shopping bags. Honestly, what did they expect?

  14. @Dann665–

    This probably isn’t the right place to go into this, but that statement doesn’t reflect what is actually happening. When assaults and arsons begin, the protest has ended and the rioting has commenced. The rules should be different for rioters.

    Yeah, it really does reflect what is actually happening. We have video of police using tear gas, rubber bullets, and tasers on what are unambigously peaceful protesters, and on reporters doing nothing but reporting on what’s happening, and who are clearly identified, with ID and the logos on their gear, as reporters.

    Now I’m going to take a weird swerve. PETA came up, on previous scroll. When you responded to my comment of a kind that often gets a shocked/hostile reaction from people who haven’t previously had occasion to look at anything but what PETA says in its PR. Your response showed it’s not completely unreasonable to expect someone hearing/reading that for the first time to get onto Google (or your preferred search engine), and find some of the atrocities PETA has committed, or their clear statements that they want no contact at all between humans and animals (which means no domesticated animals).

    That response made me very happy, even if I was too nonfunctional to respond properly, and didn’t manage to respond to it at all before I lost track of which scroll that was on.

    So, thank you.

  15. Disclaimer : I haven’t read the story. It’s on my list, but I forgot to get to it.
    I’ve heard some of the author’s pro-totalitarian statements, and was concerned, even more so when I read some comments the story reflects those ideas.

    That said, we should explore ideas that challenge us. Our minds are stronger for it.

    But are The Gang from Season 8 really going to create something challenging to talk about?

  16. A little late to the party, but I don’t blame artists in repressive governments towing the party line rather than being arrested as dissidents and lose all ability to create. As far as this fake dispute goes, two groups of people looking for money, one for profit, the other for reelection, are pointing fingers at the others. Hollywood has never been about art, and Washington hasn’t been about good government and actual leadership in a long time. But these days depression is egging on my cynicism.

  17. World Weary: But these days depression is egging on my cynicism.

    If I say anything to dispute your cynical comments you won’t believe how many friends you will suddenly have.

  18. @Cora Buhlert

    If the movie included the scenes in the trailer, then no one…..not one single person….should have made such a movie. Not as a matter of law nor as advocating legal intervention. Simply as a matter of being a decent human being.

    To use the accurate meme, a creator doesn’t get to go out and buy a bunch of puppies to kill, kill them in their movie, and then claim that their movie is about how killing puppies is bad. There are lots of options that leave the puppies alive.

    I get that the movie had more narratives to tell. They could have told those other narratives without gratuitously sexualizing 11-year-olds on the screen.

    @Lis Carey

    So, thank you.

    You are welcome. No worries about the delay or even deciding not to respond. You have a ton of things going on in your life and I’m pretty sure I’m not even in the first fifty pages of your list. And that’s OK.

    There are times when I don’t respond for similar reasons. Other stuff going on.

    You’ve got some serious stuff going on in your life and I wish you the best in dealing with it.

    Yeah, it really does reflect what is actually happening. We have video of police using tear gas, rubber bullets, and tasers on what are unambigously peaceful protesters,

    I agree.

    There is also plenty of video of unambiguously violent rioters. IMO, that is what is animating Mr. Trump’s advocacy far more than any legitimately peaceful protests being wrongly assaulted by police.

    Now playing All Night Long by Lionel Richie. Yacht Rock on Spotify…ummm…rocks!

    Regards,
    Dann
    TANSTAAFL/TINSTAAFL/TNSTAAFL – Truth no matter how you slice it.

  19. I don’t know if a music duo called The Cheeky Girls was popular in the USA or not? They were a Big Deal in the early 2000’s in the UK, specifically for a song called “Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)”. And they were very, very popular with girls my age and below: Preteens. My church’s choir master at the time spent his day job as a music teacher in primary schools, which are for children 10 and under, and made the mistake of letting one of his classes full of small girls choose what song they’d get to perform for the end of year school concert.

    Yeah. Guess what they picked. (He hated every minute of it and never let a class have free reign again. They picked from lists from then on. But the overall atmosphere around the song and its popularity with my age group was somewhere around indulgent if slightly cringy amusement.)

    I haven’t seen the film, but it’s long overdue if it tackles the adultification and sexualisation of preteen girls and how much they’re encouraged to participate in it. If it shocks people? Good. It is shocking. It was shocking when there was a countdown for Emma Watson’s 16th birthday. It’s shocking that I’ve never once seen Millie Bobby Brown in an age-appropriate dress on the red carpet, and the coverage and public response is just about how mature her sense of style is. You think these kids aren’t twerking in front of mirrors at home? Putting on makeup to look like adults? Society is the problem. Pay some attention to that.

    (Also popular a few years before, with my age group? Aqua’s Barbie Girl. Boy did the intended meaning of those lyrics fly gracefully over our small heads.)

  20. There is also plenty of video of unambiguously violent rioters. IMO, that is what is animating Mr. Trump’s advocacy far more than any legitimately peaceful protests being wrongly assaulted by police.

    Yes, there are. They are also microscopic in number when compared to the peaceful protestors and they also often turn out to be right-wingers.

  21. @Dann665–

    There is also plenty of video of unambiguously violent rioters. IMO, that is what is animating Mr. Trump’s advocacy far more than any legitimately peaceful protests being wrongly assaulted by police.

    A very small sample of news reporting on Trump’s comfort level with police violence against peaceful protesters and reporters, and the evidence that the actual rioters and looters aren’t connected with whichever left organizations you prefer to blame. They’re rightwingers, overwhelmingly.

    President Trump continues to mock MSNBC’s Ali Velshi for getting hit with a rubber bullet while covering Minneapolis protests

    Trump Has Protesters Tear Gassed So He Can Pose at a Church

    As Trump warns of leftist violence, a dangerous threat emerges from the right-wing boogaloo movement
    From this article: “The numbers are overwhelming: Most of the violence is coming from the extreme right wing,” said Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who studies extremist political activity for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a think tank in Philadelphia.”

    Who they’re not finding when they arrest rioters and looters, rather than protesters: Anitfa, or people from leftwing organizations, or people associated with BLM.

  22. Regarding cuties, my own viewpoint is that you can’t fight child sexual exploitation by sexually exploiting children onscreen, in the same way that you can’t fight racism by being racist ironically. Or rather, you can’t make a point about the over sexualisation of children in society by sexualising children in your film.

  23. @Lis Carey

    Who they’re not finding when they arrest rioters and looters, rather than protesters: Anitfa, or people from leftwing organizations, or people associated with BLM.

    You are not making sense here.
    Near nightly, since the end of May, BLM/Antifa protests have been morphing into riots in Portland. Portland PD and the Multnomah Sheriff Deputies arrest the rioters, who are rioting in support of BLM and Antifa, and against cops, and the local prosecutor doesn’t ask for bail and they are released to do it all over again. Some of the people have been arrested multiple times. I can believe that casual protestors go home once things get to the rioting stage, and leave. But the ones who stick around after being ordered to disperse once a riot or civil disturbance is declared are the hardcore anarchists. These aren’t right wingers.

    But it’s your contention that the people who show up for BLM/Antifa protests, wear Black Bloc clothing (defacto antifa uniform), turn the BLM/Antifa protests into riots, and then (at a minimum) fail to disperse and then go ahead and do something in the name of BLM/Antifa that gets them arrested, aren’t associated with BLM or Antifa, but somehow are right-wingers infiltrating the BLM/Antifa movement?

    Here’s a list of a couple hundred Federal arrestees from BLM/Antifa events.

    Some specific cases:

    Tatiana Turner was one of the organizers for a BLM rally in Yorba Linda last Saturday. She was charged yesterday with attempted murder for running over some pro-Trump counter protestors.

    James Marshall is a left-wing, anti-fascist lawyer in Alamosa, CO. While participating in a BLM march (blocking streets) on June 4, he shot Danny Pruitt, who was driving into town to get a hamburger. Charged with attempted murder.

    Ryan Howe aka Rylea Autumn is facing a slew of federal charges. Howe’s FB page is full of pro-antifa stuff.

    Brian Bartels (note the Antifa logo on his mask)

  24. @bill–A lot of the information about rightwing extremists, not antifa, being behind much of the violence, comes from the FBI. You could find that if you cared; Christopher Wray, Trump’s own choice for head of the FBI, made Trump unhappy with his testimony to Congress about antifa.
    FBI Director Chris Wray says antifa is an ideology, not an organization — testimony that puts him at odds with President Trump

    More:

    Boogaloo Movement Tied To Murder, Violence And Disinformation During ProtestS

    Alleged ‘boogaloo’ member accused in riot plot charged with sexual exploitation of children; Stephen Parshall was one of three people accused of planning to incite a riot at a Las Vegas protest.

    LEAKED DOCUMENTS SHOW POLICE KNEW FAR-RIGHT EXTREMISTS WERE THE REAL THREAT AT PROTESTS, NOT “ANTIFA”
    An analysis of leaked law enforcement documents reveals an obsession with “antifa” despite evidence of threats of violence to police and protesters

    From this article:

    But while the White House beat the drum for a crackdown on a leaderless movement on the left, law enforcement offices across the country were sharing detailed reports of far-right extremists seeking to attack the protesters and police during the country’s historic demonstrations, a trove of newly leaked documents reveals.

    Among the steady stream of threats from the far-right were repeated encounters between law enforcement and heavily armed adherents of the so-called boogaloo movement, which welcomes armed confrontation with cops as means to trigger civil war. With much of the U.S. policing apparatus on the hunt for antifa instigators, those violent aspirations appear to have materialized in a string of targeted attacks in California that left a federal protective services officer and a sheriff’s deputy dead and several other law enforcement officials wounded.

    From a variety of news sources. Not that you care.

  25. In terms of antifur and black lives matter, I think despite the riots and protests they’ve actually been very calm and collected.
    I know that if I was in their position, if I lived in a society which thought it was okay to kill people of my ethnicity for no apparent reason other than that they have a darker skin colour to the majority, I would be absolutely fuming and I think I would want to tear it all down, combined with the US explicit history of slavery and incredible violence towards minorities, I think it was only A matter of time before this all boiled over.
    As to why people riot, it’s because the social contract is broken, instead of being protected and treated as equals black people have been oppressed and marginalised for centuries, so why should they uphold the norms of a society which explicitly endorses the killing of them.

  26. Annie: I know that if I was in their position, if I lived in a society which thought it was okay to kill people of my ethnicity for no apparent reason other than that they have a darker skin colour to the majority, I would be absolutely fuming and I think I would want to tear it all down

    This is the best, most powerful commentary I’ve seen on that subject:

  27. @Lis — I was responding to your specific statement that those arrested for rioting and looting are not BLM, left wing, or antifa. I am not denying that right wing extremists are committing crimes.
    But your links aren’t responsive. 1st link — Not sure what point you are trying to make, here. Whether or not antifa is a movement, an organization, or a bunch of thugs who share similar ideology and choice in clothing, it is real, it is behind the riots in Portland, and it is left-wing.

    2nd link – Carillo, of Boogaloo, was arrested for straight-up murder, not looting or rioting.
    3rd link – Parshall wasn’t a rioter or looter; arrested on sex charges and conspiracy.
    4th link – Doens’t mention anyone arrested for rioting or looting.

    A lot of the information about rightwing extremists, not antifa, being behind much of the violence, comes from the FBI.

    The data in your reports doesn’t actually describe much right wing violence, beyond the police killed by Carillo. And being filtered through a left wing lens (Intercept, Blackbird), they minimize the violence associated with Antifa/BLM (over twenty deaths since Floyd associated with BLM protests), and magnify the Boogaloo threat — where are the Boogaloo riots?
    I’ve mentioned several arrested rioters and looters with documented links to BLM, antifa, and left-wing causes, in response to your statement that they didn’t exist. It was quite easy to find them. Still looking for these right-wing rioters and looters that you say are the real culprits behind the ongoing violence of last summer — feel free to name a few.

  28. I purposefully did not attribute any specific political perspective to the rioters. I only noted that they are rioters and therefore are not subject to protections that should be afforded to protesters.

    I am already well aware of violence coming from certain right-wing groups. Getting into discussions of “who swung first” and “what percentage comes from which direction” are fruitless in my experience. Such groups (and individuals) that engage in violence (either initiated or deploying in response to left-wing violence) are wrong. Law enforcement can handle this problem.

    To go bill one better, not only is it unlikely that a right-wing thug would LARP as Antifa to burn down a police station (or other targets), it strains credulity to suggest that leftist elected politicians would go easy on right-wing thugs pretending to be left-wing thugs. It is also highly unlikely that left-leaning entertainment figures would raise bail for right-wing thugs arrested for the violence they committed while pretending to be left-wing thugs. Yet left-leaning politicians are going easy on rioters and left-leaning entertainment figures are raising funds to cover the bail for rioters.

    Antifa is not just an idea. They may not have membership cards, a monthly magazine, and a national headquarters located in Milwaukie, but they are organized (loosely) and are responsible for a non-trivial level of violence in 2020. Any suggestion to the contrary is not supported by the facts.

    Now playing Life’s Been Good by Joe Walsh

    Regards,
    Dann
    So many books, so little time. – Frank Zappa

  29. I’ll name a few.

    It’s funny how one of the arrests you’re upset about is a woman accused of attempted murder for running over counter-protestors, when, beyond the well-known murder of Heather Heyer, running cars into BLM protesters has been very common:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/us/bloomington-vauhxx-booker-car-protesters.html
    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/us/kkk-harry-rogers-guilty.html
    https://www.denverpost.com/2020/09/23/aurora-protest-jeep-driver-charges/
    https://apnews.com/article/796c17ac185651b0c7759cf71f6b76d4
    https://apnews.com/article/41798758d33c559b051f783feabb3dc8

    More notable still are the incidents where charges WEREN’T pressed.
    https://www.denverpost.com/2020/09/23/aurora-protest-jeep-driver-charges/
    https://www.tampabay.com/news/2020/07/25/tampa-bay-drivers-have-run-into-protesters-why-havent-they-been-arrested/

    And perhaps most notable of all is Republican efforts to pass legislation to protect drivers who run over protesters. Why, do you think?

    https://www.cnn.com/2017/08/18/us/legislation-protects-drivers-injure-protesters/index.html

  30. @jayn

    one of the arrests you’re upset about

    Who’s upset? I’m glad when criminals are arrested and prosecuted. What’s upsetting is that so many of the rioters in Portland are benefiting from catch and release.

    But generally, in regards to your post:
    Again, the remark I’m responding to is about rioters and looters this summer, and whether or not they are left-wing, or BLM-, or antifa-affiliated. Lis claimed they aren’t, and I think they are, in excess.

    The links you posted, like those Lis posted, generally aren’t responsive to that.
    1st link — not a looter or rioter, and no evidence of left- or right-wing affiliation.
    2nd link — the implication here seems to be that Rogers (again, not a looter or rioter), as a member of the klan, is right-wing. I’m not sure that klansmen at his level of nuttery actually fit on the left-right spectrum. Their defining characteristics don’t map well to that axis. But supposing they did, one should bear in mind that historically the klan is much more closely tied to the Democratic party than the Repubican. N.B. Forrest, Hugo Black, Theo Bilbo, Robert Byrd all were klansmen of the Democratic party, as were other notable white supremacists like George Wallace and Bull Conner. Further, while the klan is known primarily for its racial views, it is also historically anti-Catholic (see Diane Feinstein’s comments about Amy Coney Barrett).
    3rd link — I’m not sure why you linked to this article. The driver wasn’t arrested and didn’t hit anyone. He claimed he was surrounded by protestors (illegally present on the highway) who struck his vehicle, and he tried to get out of there, which sounds like a reasonable response.
    4th link — not a rioter, nor a looter, and no evidence of political affiliation.
    5th link — you’ve linked to an article about a BLM organizer hitting Trump supporters (the same story I referred to above). I’m not sure you understand yourself what point you are making.
    6th link — repeat of #3. Same comments.
    7th link — answers its own question — drivers don’t get arrested when protestors jump onto their cars, or otherwise cause the collisions. (this article doesn’t make the BLM protestors look good at all, especially given that the organizers were arrested for incitement to riot).
    and finally,
    8th link — not sure how an article from 2017 about old unsuccessful efforts to pass laws that recognize that people who illegally block and occupy roads bear some responsibility for collisions that happen is relevant to BLM protests of 2020, or our current discussion of whether today’s rioters and looters are left- or right-wing.

    So, still looking for right-wing looters or rioters. (maybe there’s a picture out there of Pat Buchanan with an armload of Air Jordans, coming out of the broken windows of a Target store? Or Bill Kristol, throwing condoms filled with urine at police? No?)

  31. There’s a couple of really reliable ways to produce riots and both of them apply right now:

    A group of people who have been ignored and abused for long enough that they feel – generally correctly – that the “proper avenues” don’t work for them.

    An unjustly violent response from police and other officials. It takes enormous discipline to convince a large, angry, upset, disenfranchised group not to respond to excessive and disproportionate violence, and so it is very easy for an official group to provoke them. It’s a credit to the protestors that so few protests have been successfully provoked.

    I’m entirely disinterested in “but riots” as a justification for ignoring legitimate grievances. That’s how you get more riots. Counter-productive. Want fewer riots? Fix the problems causing them. Don’t go on about civility until you make civility work for everyone.

    Interesting short video interview with former senator Fred Harris on the BBC on the report he helped produce in the 60s and, essentially, how the can’s been kicked down the road for half a century: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/stories-54340456

  32. @Meredith

    To the extent that we are talking about protests for police reform…..I agree and have agreed for a few decades. People are frustrated and their reasons are largely correct.

    The problem is that it isn’t as easy as saying that all gatherings that include the trappings of a “protest” are actually protests. Sometimes legitimate protesters will hold their event and then leave only to be immediately replaced by rioters that are antifa/black bloc/anarchists. The riots at the federal courthouse in Portland frequently followed that model.

    Also, if you read that article and then look at the website of the photographer, you will see that antifa/black bloc/anarchists are using actual protests as cover to conduct acts of violence. They will use the crowd as cover while they break open the doors and windows of businesses and then melt back into the crowd after the looting begins. A non-trivial number of looters are actually a separate group of the antifa/black bloc/anarchists that come in after the door-breakers have done their work.

    IMO, the protests are largely legitimate while the rioting is more correctly described as “astroturfed”; they are not a reflection of the protester’s desires.

    I keep seeing periodic reports of protesters distancing themselves from rioters when the rioters show up. They know that the rioters are intent on harming their communities. The protesters are demanding change, but they are doing so in a peaceful and legitimate manner. They know that destroying their communities isn’t a solution.

    Now playing When It Hurst So Bad by Ms. Lauryn Hill

    Regards,
    Dann
    I was guilty of judging capitalism by its operations and socialism by its hopes and aspirations; capitalism by its works and socialism by its literature. – Sidney Hook (1987). “Out of step: an unquiet life in the 20th century”

  33. @Meredith — this report from someone who tagged along with the antifa rioters in Portland puts lie to the idea that the riots there are spontaneously arising from grieveances against black citizens.

  34. @Dann

    I’m really thoroughly unwilling to draw an absolute line between “these are legit protestors” and “these are rioters” because there probably isn’t one – there’s a lot of very justly angry people out there getting unjustly attacked by police during protests, some of those angry people are going to start throwing things back and I am not going to judge them for it because I try not to judge people for failing to have near-superhuman dedication to pacifism – and because it doesn’t matter. The legacy and presence of racism needs fixing either way. Handwringing over whether Naughty People may or may not also attend the protests is wasting oxygen we could spend on that.

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