We recently told you about the breaking news of DeRay Mckesson – whose impressive resume includes being a human resources administrator at a middle school and a Black Lives Matter protester – obtaining a position as a lecturer at Yale University. The original list of “reading material for the course” included articles from Huffington Post and the New York Times. They seem to have missed a few items in the syllabus, though. A friend of ours on Twitter caught wind of a tweet from one of the students at the prestigious Ivy League school who was letting her friends know just what she was studying in DeRay’s class.
The Twitter account of user ShordeeDooWhop was quickly moved to private status, but not before the image above had been screen captured. So this is what the kids are studying at Yale these days, eh? I was unfamiliar with the august work of Willie Osterweil before now, but fortunately for us it’s still available online. The article in question – In Defense of Looting – is a real eye opener which was published at the height of the Michael Brown riots and it’s sure to be a big hit in Social Justice Warrior circles.
Let’s take a peek at some of the highlights, shall we? And be sure to read this brief section carefully.
The mystifying ideological claim that looting is violent and non-political is one that has been carefully produced by the ruling class because it is precisely the violent maintenance of property which is both the basis and end of their power. Looting is extremely dangerous to the rich (and most white people) because it reveals, with an immediacy that has to be moralized away, that the idea of private property is just that: an idea, a tenuous and contingent structure of consent, backed up by the lethal force of the state. When rioters take territory and loot, they are revealing precisely how, in a space without cops, property relations can be destroyed and things can be had for free.
On a less abstract level there is a practical and tactical benefit to looting. Whenever people worry about looting, there is an implicit sense that the looter must necessarily be acting selfishly, “opportunistically,” and in excess. But why is it bad to grab an opportunity to improve well-being, to make life better, easier, or more comfortable? Or, as Hannah Black put it on Twitter: “Cops exist so people can’t loot ie have nice things for free so idk why it’s so confusing that people loot when they protest against cops” [sic]. Only if you believe that having nice things for free is amoral, if you believe, in short, that the current (white-supremacist, settler-colonialist) regime of property is just, can you believe that looting is amoral in itself.
Apparently we’ve had this whole “crime vs lawfulness” thing backwards the entire time. Looting isn’t a criminal activity… it’s a way to have nice things for free, and if you think that’s an amoral position you are obviously a racist and part of the effort to keep poor people down. I simply can’t believe how wrong we’ve been for all this time. In fact, I could use a new TV for the den, so if any of you would be willing to help me strap a few shopping carts together and give me a ride down to Target…
This identification of what DeRay is “teaching” his class pretty much stands on its own. But in closing I will once again issue a gentle reminder here to all of the parents who have bundled up young Johnny or Jane and sent them off to Yale this fall. The current bill for tuition and related expenses this year is $63,250. And for that bargain basement price your kid will come back with helpful tips on how you can loot your way out of the poorhouse after Yale bankrupts you.
What a country!