In certain circles (like my circles) it's popular to post things about how when whites riot (and they do) we call it frat boys having a good time. Now whites frat boys riot over stupid shit, like their sport's team winning, or their sport's team losing. And don't get me wrong, I'm not down with frat boy culture.
I think these situations are very different. But I don't buy the violence against oppression argument either. First let me just say I find white frat boys so completely idiotic because of their drunk stupidity without a cause. It's a party. And a lame party of that.
In Baltimore's case, there are real reasons for being pissed off. But that has nothing to do with burning down a senior center or cutting a fire house. You're allowed to be pissed off. You're not allowed to be violent. And if you can't be the former without doing the latter, then you're a child. This has nothing do to with protests. Looting is also a party. A destructive party. But it's actually a decent party.
The difference between college riots and Baltimore's riot is the scale and magnitude of violence. And this may reflect the culture of the rioters. Frat boys: a little violent, very drunk, college educated, very stupid, disrespectful, often come from good families, don't generally kill each other. Ghetto boys: more violent, less drunk, high-school drop outs, less stupid, disrespectful, often come from horribly dysfunctional families, and they too often do kill each other.
To say we're only making a big deal out of this because of race is absurd. People need perspective. They also need to understand the scale of destruction here. Any one of these incidents would have been news in a college paper (and probably not much else). A bonfire and a tipped car and broken store are not good. But it is what it is. It destroys neither the college nor the downtown.
This was different. And it bothers me how quickly people are willing to take fact and rumor and whatever else they want from Baltimore when they have no idea what really happened in Baltimore.
The Baltimore Sun has a nice little interactive map on the violence (similar to their great map of city homicide).