20/20 Riotous Hindsight

The Southern California Of 1992 Was Almost Unrecognizably Different From Today

Certain human calamities are so all-encompassing, so shocking to the senses, that they become impossible to contain within a neat narrative. Think 9/11, or Hurricane Katrina, or the federal siege of the Branch Davidian ranch in Waco, Texas. Too many social and governing pathologies chase too few mechanisms for coping, and before you know it a thousand fanciful explanations bloom.

People across Southern California and the nation have spent the past weeks engaged in appropriately somber reflection on the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, a catastrophe I experienced as …