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The backlash to the backlash to the backlash might finally have arrived. But you'll need a scorecard to keep up with which way the arrow points today.

This past week, The New York Daily News ran an editorial suggesting protesters tone it down with the arson and violence. Because that will only help the president's re-election chances: "Trump is drowning," the editorial noted. "Activists on the far left must not throw him a lifeline."

Perhaps. But why would activists on the far left stop now?

There is a danger in just allowing violent protests to continue, emphasis on violent. For protests--the peaceful kind--are as American as apple pie and Mama's hugs. So much so that the freedom to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances is outlined specifically in our founding document.

But note that the Founders used the word "peaceably." What is happening in Portland and Seattle--and elsewhere--isn't peaceably.

The danger, or at least one danger, in allowing mobs to toss incendiary devices at buildings and fireworks at police officers is the lesson it might teach others. Several big-city mayors have not only allowed this sort of behavior without serious police response, but have told the feds they shouldn't come to their cities to protect federal property, either.

And the lesson is learned.

This past week, a mini-golf business in Memphis went over the covid-19 limit, so it shut down due to overcrowding. A group of 300 to 400 people, mostly teens, decided to demand a refund. When they didn't get what they demanded, they tore the place down.

Dispatches from Tennessee say teens were seen kicking down Plexiglas dividers, spitting on employees and throwing stuff. The manager of the place said the business has never experienced such a thing in nearly 60 years.

Mini-golf. That's what we're rioting about now.

In the last two months, there have been nationwide protests against police violence and nonsensical police brutality, and not just by police in Minnesota. The protests have spread from New York to Seattle, and from Little Rock to Conway, because the American people are fed up. Power to the people.

Protests in democracies make good governments better, and bad governments gone. But those protests lose their moral authority when they turn into violent mobs, intent on destroying instead of building. And when government leaders don't do anything about the violence, and even put up obstacles to other authorities, well, people hear things. And see things.

The images coming from the Pacific Northwest are instructive, and not in a good way. The protests are needed and just. The violence is unnecessary and unjustifiable. But as long as the unnecessary and unjustifiable is condoned by those in authority, the lesson is delivered. And learned.

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