To fear tyranny and then seek to bring it to heel, curtailing government power so it comes into conformity with the requirements of individual rights, a political order must already exist, keeping some semblance of order. But Hobbesian fear is a fear of life outside of politics altogether. It’s a fear of life in a vacuum lacking any order at all — a fear of life as it’s been lived the last few days and nights on the streets of American cities, as throngs of rioters smash windows and burn cars and businesses, storefronts, court houses, and police stations, often with no authority capable of restoring peace.

First comes order, then comes fairness. Activists may not like it, but there’s no way around this sequence of priorities. A society that has fallen prey to anarchy must restore order before it can set about trying to assure that the order is applied fairly to every individual and group that lives within its bounds.

That’s why it’s so important that things settle down, and settle down quickly. The worse the riots become and the longer they drag on, the further we will drift from a situation in which we can begin to address the injustices that sparked the unrest in the first place.