Commentary

'Popular Mechanics' Shames Itself With Anarchist How-To

Popular Mechanics, the storied science and technology magazine published by Hearst Magazines, insulted readers with one of the most disappointing stories written in the days since George Floyd was killed in police custody.

Without any hint of irony, the magazine this week urged readers to commit crimes with a story titled "How to Topple a Statue Using Science." To exploit the Black Lives Matter movement even further and maximize visibility on Google, the magazine tagged the story with a heading that says "How to Remove Racist Statue."

The story appeared as angry mobs nationwide vandalize statues that commemorate Civil War generals, Founding Fathers and even abolitionists. That's fine if people want those statues removed, but it should be done through referendums or other legal measures that don't sacrifice civility.

Instead, Popular Mechanics breezily offers its version of "The Anarchist Cookbook," the infamous manual for violent civil disobedience that included recipes for bombs, weapons and drugs.

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"Should you happen to find yourself near a statue that you decide you no longer like, we asked scientists for the best, safest ways to bring it to the ground without anyone getting hurt — except, of course, for the inanimate racist who’s been dead for a century anyway," according to the article.

It goes on to provide a boring description about the mechanics of toppling a statue by brute force or with chemicals. It was written by James Stout, whose biography describes him as a historian of anti-fascism in sport with a Ph.D. That qualifies him to be a bore.

It's a shame Popular Mechanics, which since its founding in 1902 has provided helpful articles on how to build things, has resorted to amateurish peddling of ideas of how to lawlessly tear things down.

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