President Obama used the phrase "criminals and thugs"---which he could have used to describe his IRS, but in this case used to describe the Baltimore looters. The looters understood that if they behaved like real rioters, or revolutionaries, by addressing violence toward the mayor or whatever passes for elected government in one-party Baltimore, they would face a much more motivated security force that would not just be told to stand back. So much easier and more fun to destroy private businesses and homes.
That's the kind of thing that separates the protester from the thug.
Some people have idiotically stated that those using the term "thug" mean it as code for that very bad N word***, including (one gathers) our president, who to his credit refused to pull back from his word choice. Trying to link perfectly good and descriptive words to universally declaimed ones is just a boorish way of trying to force people away from truth. The anti-language police would have done the same with any disparaging word used for the looters, to keep us from thinking negatively about people using a sad situation to endanger others and take or destroy stuff that doesn't belong to them.
Let's look at the word thug. Merriam-Webster tells us (as everyone who ever saw the film Gunga Din knows) it comes from the Thugs of India, an organization of assassins, whose name comes from the Hindi word for thief or deceiver. Thus the title of a John Masters novel about a Brit facing off against them during the Raj.
|No, this was not just an excuse to show nekkid breastes on my blog.|
Modern enemies of life and civilization like ISIS (or ISIL) and Boko Haram are the Thugs of the day, as they are death cults. It may seem erroneous to identify Muslim terrorists with a group that followed a Hindu goddess, but Wikipedia notes that "the Thugs traced their origin to seven Muslim tribes" and "While only Hindus worship Kali, a large number of the Thuggees captured and convicted by the British were Muslims." As radical, violent Muslims enjoy telling us, they love death more than we love life.
What does this have to do with the riots in Baltimore? People destroying for the love of destroying, people thieving and deceiving (perhaps even themselves)? I think thug is a perfectly adequate term, actually.
*Not keep it for themselves, note, or try to sell it.
**Which was a risky maneuver, let's just say that for the revolutionaries, so you have to give them credit for courage despite the many mauvais pommes that emerged later.
***You know the one. Don't be coy. You trying to get me thrown off Google?