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summer_in_TX's Journal
summer_in_TX's Journal
August 16, 2017

Non-violent tactics and moral high-ground

I've been imagining what the discussion after the tragedy in Charlottesville would have been like today if the counter-protestors had been only those committed to using the moral authority (satyagraha or soul-force) of non-violence.

The starkness of the contrast between good and evil would have had a shining clarity that would have overwhelmed the RW media's ability to twist what happened into the appearance of a false equivalency.

Would it have helped hasten the end of this monstrous regime?

I grew up in a family that held Martin Luther King in the highest reverence. We watched the news anytime he and the Civil Rights Movement were covered. He stirred my moral imagination as a teenager like none other. I read his writings and watched documentaries after his death, as well as biographies about his life.

He took nonviolent methods into the heart of the racist South and to pockets of racism in the North as well. He and his cohorts in the Civil Rights Movement were spit upon, beaten by police, pepper-sprayed, jailed. A bomb was thrown into the front window of his house (luckily he and the family were in the back of the house). King was stabbed and later assassinated. Others in the Civil Rights Movement suffered the same fate.

Some mistook the tactics of the Civil Rights Movement as weakness, especially those who didn't grow up observing it. They were wrong.

Those nonviolent protesters were warriors. They placed themselves constantly in the situations where the evil of violence and racism would be rained down on their heads and those of their children who sometimes protested with them.

As the nation watched the news night after night and witnessed the bravery, the peacefulness, and the innocence of the protesters, the tide of public opinion turned. What once was the status quo became disturbing and then anathema to large swathes of the country.

LBJ helped force the transformation by numerous pieces of legislation that he worked to get passed: legislation outlawing discrimination in public housing, denying federal funding for schools that refused to integrate, the Voting Rights Act, and more. If the Civil Rights Movement had been one of violence, those pieces of legislation would never have passed. Some of those members of Congress who had inherited racist views that they'd never questioned, came to question them because of the clear moral authority of the Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and many other civil rights leaders of the time.

The number of racists in the country were reduced, because many of them had never thought about what they were doing until their eyes were opened. They had enough decency in them that they were capable of conversion. It's possible some of these current racists and Trump supporters do too.

Violent tactics justify a violent response. Hate begets hate.

While I understand the very human emotions that might lead someone to participate in Antifa, I'm convinced it is counterproductive, a mistake that will create a backlash.

In 1968 after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, riots broke out. That summer the Democratic National Convention was marred by days of violence and rioting. Those who were not paying attention to the causes and did not understand the forces behind the violence were appalled and afraid. Fear suppressed rational thought and brought out the lizard part of the brain in many people and fueled the conservative backlash.

Bad behavior (can we agree that violence, vandalism, and threats are bad behavior?) does not inspire anyone or bring out the good in anyone else. There certainly was no conversion of hearts or minds, quite the opposite.

Those who don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. And unfortunately those of us who do learn those lessons are not always able to prevail and we too have to live with the consequences.

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Hometown: Austin, Texas
Member since: Mon May 15, 2017, 12:06 AM
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About summer_in_TX

@WimberleySusan Project 2025 is a national emergency, an existential threat against democracy. StoptheCoup2025.org is working rapidly to translate the PR-type, insider language of Project 2025 proposals into plain English. I'm updating my bio to spread the word. Sig line too.
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