NPR interview promotes new book ‘In Defense of Looting’ – and yes, it’s exactly what you think it is


It’s no great secret as of now that since late-May there has been widespread crime hidden under the veil of protest. One of the most prevalent that we’ve seen is looting.

Yet, author Vicky Osterweil is not only trying to justify looting – she’s written an entire book on why looting is okay to do.

According to the website where the book is featured, this opening tagline is placed above a detailed description of the book:

“A fresh argument for rioting and looting as our most powerful tools for dismantling white supremacy.”

What’s more troublesome is that she actually finished writing the book back in April of this year before any of the riots and looting started really kicking off in late-May, according to an interview Osterweil did with NPR recently.

During this NPR interview, Osterweil was asked to define “looting”, which she answered with the following:

“When I use the word looting, I mean the mass expropriation of property, mass shoplifting during a moment of upheaval or riot. That’s the thing I’m defending. I’m not defending any situation in which property is stolen by force. It’s not a home invasion, either. It’s about a certain kind of action that’s taken during protests and riots.”

Essentially, she’s making mention of property left unattended somewhere where a bunch of thieves decide to descend upon said opportunity. Keep in mind, Osterweil is “defending” looting, per her own words.

Osterweil then referred to looting as being “a highly racialized word,” simply because one can trace back the word “loot” to the Hindi word “lut” which means goods or spoils. 

From there, this author begins framing looters as victims because those who engage in said act might be among the lower socio-economic spectrum:

“Looting is more common among movements that are coming from below. It tends to be an attack on a business, a commercial space, maybe a government building—taking those things that would otherwise be commodified and controlled and sharing them for free.”

Things that would be “commodified and controlled and sharing them for free” completely disregards the right to property that is yours.

Whether Osterweil wants to believe it or not, property that is looted has owners – whether they’re large companies or small business owners. Not to mention, we’ve even seen small businesses get looted and destroyed in recent months.

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But Osterweil is endorsing the tactics of both rioting and looting because it can get people free things without them ever having to work for them:

“[Rioting] does a number of important things. It gets people what they need for free immediately, which means that they are capable of living and reproducing their lives without having to rely on jobs or a wage.”

This woman may have some issues – she’s saying that because some people may have more than the next person, that it somehow justifies the person with less to steal from the other as long as it’s not by force. It’s a brazen and also bizarre endorsement, because it alleges that theft is okay as long as lots of people do it at once and someone isn’t there to protect the property.

Osterweil’s endorsement continued from there, setting the stage of what the goal of looting truly is and adding more fodder toward her theory of envy making it justifiable:

“It attacks the idea of property, and it attacks the idea that in order for someone to have a roof over their head or have a meal ticket, they have to work for a boss, in order to buy things that people just like them somewhere else in the world had to make under the same conditions. It points to the way in which that’s unjust.”

So, people contributing goods or services in exchange for other goods and services is “unjust,” according to Osterweil.

And just how in the heck are people supposed to commence any sort of trade then? By putting talented people in labor camps and force them to produce goods and services for the perennially lazy?

The madness continues – because Osterweil thinks that if cops and “state oppression” (whatever that is) were to just vanish, then everyone could have everything for free:

“You get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.”

I’m not sure what planet Osterweil is on, but goods and services don’t just magically appear and then people can have at them. People still have to craft, create, manufacture, serve and so on for anyone to have anything.

From there, the interview continues on and on with this woman trying to make looting seem like an okay thing to do by dressing it up with clever words and selective segments of history where things akin to looting took place.

Of course, somehow looting will also attacks white supremacy according to Osterweil – because having property is something connected to “whiteness.”

Make no mistake – Osterweil and people like her are going to resonate with those who love rioting and looting. They’ll read her words and feel like the shifting of the goalposts that define genuine criminal behavior excuses their criminal conduct – because it supports their ideology.

Osterweil also claims that even when small businesses are targeted, that it’s okay – because the benefits of someone starting a small business is a “myth” that was started by Republicans.

This book is a blatant gospel of endorsing criminal actions fueled by envy, a horrid set of instructions aimed to inspire why it’s okay to pilfer when someone isn’t looking or if they have more than you.

These are the types of words to inspire a riot near you – if they haven’t already.

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