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June 3, 2020

Blame the Lockdowns

Rioting isn’t entirely caused by shutdowns, but people were angry and stir crazy.

As lockdowns give way to curfews in many riot-stricken cities, we’re compelled to think that three months of coronavirus panic and shutdown helped to fuel the current violence and unrest. At first blush, that may seem like a stretch, but basic human psychology says otherwise. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, “It doesn’t take a sociology Ph.D. to suspect that the unprecedented conditions the nation has been living under for more than two months have contributed to the anger apparent in the riots and violence.”

Even if it doesn’t take a degree, one Ph.D. and practicing psychoanalyst, Dr. Kenneth Eisold, says, “No doubt in my mind that the pandemic has eroded people’s capacity to tolerate additional frustration and anxiety. I also suspect that the riots reflect an unconscious protest against the lockdown.”

Isolating millions of Americans in their homes deprived them of the typical social interaction they enjoyed. Many municipalities even took the absurd step of closing outdoor recreational areas. Playing basketball outside posed no threat to anyone, but prohibiting it — sometimes with police enforcement — not only removed an outlet for young men in particular but made them angry at the same time. We’ll go out on a limb and guess that most rioters were unemployed long before massive shutdown layoffs hit, but economic upheaval still hit home for them and most of the layoffs were in low-wage occupations.

Blacks were also disproportionately hit by COVID deaths. Add to that the incessant media coverage of every death statistic, and despair can take hold.

As Timothy Carney concluded, “Without recreation or work, cut off from friends, and with nothing to do, people will be more on edge. Idleness will also drive people to extreme and unwise actions.”

Oh, and by the way, Democrat politicians released thousands of prisoners from jail during the pandemic. The Journal observes, “It’s a good bet that at least some of those burning down buildings had previous run-ins with the law.”

Call us crazy, but some folks might be starting to wonder if those lockdowns were such a great idea.

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