Who knows what to think?
It's not really possible to have a unified opinion about what's going on at the moment. If you are taking sides, perhaps you are not thinking about it enough.
Anyone who isn't on the side of democracy and the rule of law soon runs into a problem: what exactly are you fighting for? If you don't believe in the system (albeit a different and better version of the system) what new result are you rioting in favour of? Injustice isn't going to end, it can only be improved. Once we redistribute, will we start rioting again? Didn't this all start as a protest against violence?
But, those people who defend law and order have an even bigger problem, at least in the USA. The police murdered a man because he was black. What system do we even have at that point? Even the law and order people ought to be able to see that the justifiable rage felt on behalf of George Floyd is difficult to deal with in an obviously rigged system. They shouldn't condone rioting, but they ought to feel conflicted.
Now, I'm talking about the USA, but I know why the protests spread. I live in South East London and whenever I see the police talking to a Black British person they have stopped (which is fairly often round here) I feel sick in my stomach because I just don't trust them.
During the Lewisham riots I remember reading a story about police officers who left the force because of appalling racists comments. I was astonished that people still used language like that. We have a better system, testified to by the much lower rate of death, incarceration and so on. But I still think we have a lot of racist coppers.
Things aren't as simple as that.
Here's an obvious example of something that's just plain egregious. It's about the story of the cyclist in America who assaulted some girls with his bicycle. Only, this is about someone who a twitter mob misidentified as the culprit. He was, in fact, unconnected.
At 11:47, Weinberg tweeted, “I recently learned I have been misidentified in connection with a deeply disturbing attack. Please know this was not me. I have been in touch with the authorities and will continue to help any way possible.”
His fiancée in New York, he spent the night alone, refreshing Twitter, watching helplessly as people tried to destroy his life. And Weinberg wasn’t even the only one: Another man, a former Maryland cop, was wrongly accused, too. The tweet accusing him was retweeted and liked more than half a million times.
The main issue is that the police got the date and time of the attack wrong, and Weinberg's cycling app showed him at the scene at the wrong time.
But there's another big issue. Many, many people were so angry about the man who really did assault people with his bicycle that they were obsessive about hounding someone who turned out to be innocent.
As always the corrections earn a fraction of the interaction relative to the tweet that ignites the outrage.
The end of the article is instructive.
As for the woman who shared his home address: She deleted it and posted an apology, writing that in all of her eagerness to see justice served, she was swept up in the mob that so gleefully shared misinformation, depriving someone of their own right to justice. Her correction was shared by fewer than a dozen people.
Stuff like this is why, no matter how justifiable in reasons or causes, we can't allow mob, protestors, or other forms of non-democratic action direct policy. This isn't about being for or against racism or anything else. The narrative doesn't fit the facts. Just look at the example above. It's a huge blunder on the part of the protestors. It doesn't invalidate the basic point, and they don't represent everyone. But it also shows that not every act of resistance is good or worthwhile or effective.
If you are pretty sure you know what you think, you probably ought to keep thinking until you get confused again. Much like COVID, it's hard to see how the system (at least in the US) can easily spring back to where it was before all this happened.
Generalisations are the enemy here. In the tweet about the cyclist who did commit the assault, it says, "No grown man has the right to touch children, ever." That's plainly false. But it's easily agreed with when you are watching that video.
The question we ought to be thinking about is not what are the particular moral generalisations we can make from this. It's, how can the system work now?