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Vicky Osterweil: The worst person in the world!


Ever hear of Vicky Osterweil? Me neither. But then I read this interview with her on National Public Radio’s website, and I’ve now decided that Ms. Osterweil is certifiably nuts and needs to be called out.

The Internet informs us that “Vicky Osterweil is a writer, editor, and agitator and a regular contributor to The New Inquiry. Her writing has also appeared in The Baffler, The Nation, The Rumpus, Real Life, and Al Jazeera America. She lives in Philadelphia.”

She also has a new book out, In Defense of Looting, a timely little epistle given the widespread instances of looting, vandalism, arson and general destruction being perpetrated in American cities, including my own, Oakland. I haven’t read the book, and won’t, but here’s a summary from Osterweil’s NPR interviewer: “[S]he argues that looting is a powerful tool to bring about real, lasting change in society.”

Let me demolish the crazier of her points, based on her quoted remarks in the interview.

“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’ve seen this “mass expropriation of property,” Osterweil’s pseudo-intellectual term for theft, on a grand scale. It’s not pretty. 7-Elevens with their shelves stripped bare (and, of course, their front windows smashed: the “expropriators” have to get in somehow). Target stores ransacked and torched, Ace Hardware stores with barely a hammer or nail left behind. Nor do the “expropriators” exempt small, local-owned businesses, as you’ll read in a moment.

“Looting…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.” Yes, it’s true that anything you steal is, by definition, free. But we have laws against theft—including the oldest laws known to humankind, the Ten Commandments—for a reason: if you do not want your stuff stolen, then you shouldn’t steal someone else’s. It’s the most basic application of the Golden Rule, and is the basis for organized society, instead of the lawless animal community, where might makes right.

“Looting… 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.” I don’t care what your views are on communism or socialism or capitalism or any other “ism,” but we do live in a universe where nobody gives us anything for free. (Of course, if you’re a Trump spawn, you get all kinds of privilege, but that’s a reason to raise taxes on the rich, not an excuse for looting.) Sane adults understand that working for a living is the way things are. Always has been, always will be. Sane people accept the fact that they have to work for most of their lives, and so they prepare themselves to get good, interesting jobs. When somebody tells you that you don’t have to work for a living, that you can steal instead, you have to see that person for what she is: certifiably nuts, dangerous, a person to be condemned.

“Another trope (myth) that’s very common is that looters and rioters are not part of the protest, and they’re not part of the movement.” Well, here I agree with Osterweil, although not for the reason she thinks. As I wrote the other day, looters and rioters are part of the protest—which means the protesters are part of the looting and rioting. You can’t have it both ways. If you march in a protest in which you know full well looting will ensue, you are enabling the looters; you might as well be doing it yourself.

Now, here’s Osterweil explaining why a lot of progressive people criticize looting; she blames it, naturally, on racism. “But there’s also another factor, which is anti-Blackness and contempt for poor people who want to live a better life, which looting immediately provides.” This statement is so unhinged, we have to venture into psychopathology to properly contextualize it. First of all, nobody has ever claimed that the looting that follows BLM protests is a “Black” thing. Blacks loot, whites loot, Asians loot, Brown-skinned people loot; they’re all amoral idiots. Secondly, I guarantee you that most poor people who want to live a better life would never stoop to looting. Their religion forbids it, their morality tells them not to do it, they know it’s wrong. Osterweil seems unable to grasp the real reason why all decent people, not just progressives, criticize looting: because we know that a civilized society cannot endure when its people sink into anarchy and violence.

“Looters and rioters don’t attack private homes. They don’t attack community centers. In Minneapolis, there was a small independent bookstore that was untouched. All the blocks around it were basically looted or even leveled, burned down. And that store just remained untouched through weeks of rioting.” Fact check. Looters don’t attack private homes because there are few if any private homes in the downtown areas where they commit their crimes. And despite Osterweil’s citation of the “bookstore,” looters show no regard whatsoever for small independent businesses. Our local news reported, after one of the more recent riots, “A big cleanup was happening in Oakland Saturday. Small business owners were repairing dozens of shattered windows along Telegraph Avenue after vandals left a path of destruction overnight.” The article quoted, among others, a man named Chris Rago, whose family-owned business, started in 1973, was wrecked. “We were just back open and getting busy again (after the COVID-19 closures), now this happens, it makes no sense,” Rago said.

Why does Osterweil lie and say such demonstrably stupid things? I look closely at photos of her—to me, she looks like a male-to-female transsexual–and I see rage—immense quantities of it below the surface, rage that needs to get out lest it eat her up from inside. And what is looting, after all, but a form of rage-expression? The thrill of setting something on fire, the almost sexual release that comes from smashing a plate glass window, the consequenceless commission of violence under cover of darkness—these are the narcissistic extrusions of a deranged, infantile personality that never properly developed the conscience or superego of adults. If Osterweil’s rage really does stem from her feeling that society rejected her, then she should be working her shit out in therapy.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. The vast majority of Twitterers who comment on In Defense of Looting are as appalled as I am. Here’s a sampling:

“This is absolutely batshit.”

“Vicky Osterweil argues that looting is a powerful tactic…I’d like to see her explain that to Flora Westbrooks,” whose hair salon was burned down by looters and vandals in Minneapolis.

“Author Vicky Osterweil wrote a book, In Defense of Looting, so feel free [to] find her books, her money and her property, and have at it.”

“No one who actually was forced by lack of alternatives to live in a neighborhood being destroyed would publish a book like this.”

“I’m a minority too. I’m a brown person,” said Sam (who lost his business to looters). Sam’s 17 employees are now out of jobs, and he lost “every dime” he had.

“I’ve always wondered how I could get things for free. You mean to tell me that instead of working hard at a job, all I really needed to do was abolish the police?”

Well, you get the idea. Normal Americans are outraged by Vicky Osterweil and the sick mentality she embodies. I’m not normally a vengeful person, but I hope that whatever she owns is stolen, against her will. Then we’ll learn if she is really “in defense of looting.” Maybe her next book will be called In Defense of Rape. It wouldn’t surprise me.

  1. Works for a living says:

    This woman is miserable FUCKING CUNT!!!

  2. Osterweil is a racist. Her advocacy for differential application of laws based on skin color is racist. I believe that – like all people in general – at least 99% of Blacks find looting abhorrent, wrong and not at all justified.

  3. Gustavo Dickis says:

    Steve, I totally agree with you about Vicky Osterweil totally inept attempt to justify looting by rioters! I believe she is mentallly ill and is a threat to the safety of our cities and the personal property of everyone!
    “Looting by any means is the FORCIBLE taking of the property belonging to another with out their consent,” and as far as I am concerned citizens should be allowed to protect their property by using all force necessary to stop the unlawfull taking or looting of ones property, including the use of deadly force against looters!!!

  4. For the record I think Vicky was actually born as Victor!

  5. Alonso Fonzo says:

    How about the fact that this imbecile was given a feature on NPR!!

  6. Someone please dox this POS! All of her possessions should be taken from her as per her argument! Why is she not charged for incitement of violence?

  7. It’s an interesting article you write here Steve. Alot what you say is both common sense and agreeable.

    However, you challenge your own premise with this

    I don’t care what your views are on communism or socialism or capitalism or any other “ism,” but we do live in a universe where nobody gives us anything for free. (Of course, if you’re a Trump spawn, you get all kinds of privilege, but that’s a reason to raise taxes on the rich, not an excuse for looting.)

    First, your tacit castigation of those that might not support “progressivism” as “Trump spawn” is base and betrays a lack of true perspective for those who may not agree with you. If you want to be “thoughtful”, ergo…taken seriously, you eschew invective, you’d don’t make a clumsy swipe at people.

    Then, there is a case to be made that “progressive taxation” is, in effect, legalized looting. So on the one hand you’re against individual looting, but perfectly fine with collective looting?

    But you seem to not be satisfied with “collective looting” you seem to be most interested in looting from one segment of society. “The rich”. Who makes that determination?

    You and I will agree that Osterweil is out of her mind and I appreciate you pointing it out as we likely wouldn’t agree on much beyond that and some pretty basic points you make regarding the nature of theft.

    If you have a genuine curiosity then I urge you to read some Bastiat, most specifically “The Law”. It will present some very basic logic that a thoughtful person could find informative.

  8. Brilliant comment.

  9. If you don’t want to pay taxes, then I suggest you move to–oh, I don’t know, the Moon? Because you’ll pay taxes everywhere on Planet Earth. Death and taxes are the 2 inevitables. I consider my taxes the price I willingly pay for roads, bridges, fire and police protection, keeping my water and air clean, making sure the things I eat don’t kill me, and many other things. By the way, by Trump “spawn” I refer to his spoiled, entitled children. If you can’t see the justice of taxing them at very high rates, then there’s no hope for you. Send us a postcard from the Moon when you get there!

  10. He’s trans—Will Osterweil. Wonder if he shoplifts his hormones?

  11. Quit calling him a her. He is a sick sob with absolutely nothing useful to say.

  12. It.

  13. Matt Davis says:

    Vicky apparently used to be Willie. And he was peddling these same ideas back in 2014, presumably in the wake of the Ferguson riots.

    In a world where the masters of the universe censor conservative thinkers, it is amazing that such stupidity can be printed and lauded as expertise and wisdom, especially when the author is living with the delusion that he is a female.

  14. John Donald says:

    Looks like someone got ahold of daddy’s thesaurus and a psych 101 textbook.

  15. Your statement that conservative thinkers are censored is bullshit. From the Wall Street Journal to Fox “News,” from Breitbart to the criminal in the White House, so-called conservative thinkers dominate all aspects of the media.

  16. Why are trump rightwingers so obsessed with these “daddy” memes? Is it some reversion to infantile separation anxiety? Or is it because they can’t make their points using rational language so they have to resort to tired old insults?

  17. Of course the looters didn’t loot the book store. What are they going to do with a bunch of books? Read? Yea, right. Most looters are not that smart.

  18. Ms. Vicky is really a Mister. Google her/him/it

  19. Let’s find this white girl’s address. And then rob her.

  20. Harbinger says:

    Well there’s one way and one way only that you deal with these idiots. Willie (not Vicky) Osterweil believes that there’s nothing wrong with theft. Therefore, I’m sure that Willie will not protest, when people, smash the windows of his apartment, kick down his door and proceed to offload whatever is in his apartment, into their’s.
    We will see the free distribution of goods, Willie’s goods and he can be happy in knowing that those less better off than him will be benefiting, from his donation.

    But why stop at the ransacking of his home and appropriation of his belongings? I think he should also, very regularly, be mugged and all cash removed from his possession, including whatever trinkets he may be have on his possession. And while they’re at it, they can take him to a ATM and take more money out of his bank accounts, that isn’t on his person. In fact, he could start a new trend by being the next ‘Robbed in the Hood, by going into predominantly black areas, with high crime and shouting “free shit, come and get it”.

    People like him, only wake up to reality when reality hits them firmly between the eyes. He needs some kind of baptism of fire. He needs to be a victim of crime, something, I can guarantee he’s never been, although he will say he’s a victim, because he decided to be a she and people simply won’t call him by his preferred gender pronoun.

  21. I’m approving this sick comment only because of my respect for non-censorship. I can’t believe “Bob” is encouraging violent crime against a human being.

  22. Steve,

    Where am I promoting any ‘violent’ crime against anyone? Oh, you mean Willie Osterweil being mugged? Well, again, I never stated that anyone should ‘assault’ him and you see, crime only becomes violent when there’s an injured party (and I’m of course speaking about PHYSICAL violence not mental violence of being ‘offended’).

    I’m sure any mugging of Willie Osterweil could be done incredibly quickly. It would only really turn violent if Willie had the stupidity to try and stop those ‘looting’ him. I’m sure that Willie would have exactly the same views in that the looting of all the businesses, he promotes, would only turn violent IF of course those people resisted.

    Again, I’m not promoting any violent crime. I’m merely advocating upon Willie Osterweil, what he advocates upon others. I think that’s exceptionally fair don’t you? After all, looting a local business is no different to ‘mugging’ someone. You are taking that, from someone, which does not belong to you.

  23. Carl Hegel says:

    I thought was a great parody of this type of shit, but after hearing about her it could actually be a real site. Good God, how is this argument legitimized by NPR and others.

  24. I contacted NPR to express my disapproval. Shoddy “journalism” by a bad interviewer.

  25. J. P. Poll watcher says:

    Just plays into Trump’s game plan. People
    will see the images of destruction, arson,
    outright theft, and even murder all throughout the campaign. Nothing convinces
    more than reinforcement of the message.
    By the way, Vicky gets the “15 minutes of
    fame” award!
    You go girl!!

  26. We’ll see on Election Day how this plays out.

  27. Him. The guy is a guy.

  28. So what? Why are you so obsessed with Osterweil’s gender preference? It says something about your mental state.


    Thank you Steve Heimoff for a well written perspective on the bullshit of Vicky Osterweil’s latest twaddle.

    ‘They’ desperately WANT people to buy the “book.”


    SW/Portland/3 August 2020

  30. Sophie Weston says:

    HELLO — i typed August 3 rather than September. I hope you can correct the error. Thank you.

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