On "Riot Chic"

Riot chic.jpg

Prior to Charlottesville, there was a kids-will-be-kids quality to recent violent street protests, particularly in university towns. Youth caught up in "riot chic," observed British journalist Cosmo Landesman, seemed to thrive on "the euphoric rush that comes from combining violence with the feeling that you’re being virtuous." Sixties mythology provided both the template and the rationale, rendering anti-globalization and anti-fascist rioting somehow "progressive"—even when, as at the Hamburg G20 protests, police officers were injured in the hundreds. After Charlottesville and the re-emergence of iron-fisted Nazi street violence, is the euphoric virtuosity of "progressive" mob violence defensible?