NonViolence

Even today, people continue to reject nonviolence as impractical, idealistic, and out of touch with the need of nations and oppressed peoples to defend themselves. No such irrelevancy is charged against the myth of redemptive violence, however, despite the fact that it always fails at least half the time: one side always loses. Its exaltation of the saving powers of killing, and the privileged position accorded it by intellectuals and politicians alike, to say nothing of theologians, have made redemptive violence the myth of choice for Marxists and capitalists, Fascists and leftists, atheists and churchgoers alike.

No matter how much we may talk about kindness, 
no matter how much we may practice it elsewhere, 
as long as we demand that living, feeling individuals 
be harmed and killed for our pleasure
as long as we choose violence over compassion
then we do not live a good or just life. 
Far greater than the sum of our good acts 
is the trail of blood, suffering and death 
we willfully and needlessly leave behind us.” 
- Ashley Capps

Mahatma Gandhi is a man who is widely praised and remembered for his mission for freedom and Liberation. His influence on Martin Luther King Jr. is often spoken about in mainstream education but what they never tell you is that Gandhi DID NOT LIKE nor RESPECT BLACK PEOPLE. He believed that Indians and their white oppressors were superior to Blacks. In fact, the word Mahatma means “Great Soul” so I am even reluctant to call him that. He is quoted several times referring to Africans as “Kaffirs”; a word that is equivalent to the “N” word. He believed that Africans were uncivilized savages BY NATURE and needed to be saved. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Gandhi described us as troublesome, very dirty, and living like animals.  He had a serious problem with Africans living among his people and wanted the two to be segregated. In 1904, he would to protest the placing of Africans in his city saying, “Ours is one continued struggle sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir. Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian Location should be chosen for dumping down all the Kaffirs of the town passes my comprehension.” He believed it was the greatest form of disrespect for White people to consider Indians the same as Black People. It is very important that we see through some of the illusions that are thrown our way. Black people Stop praising Gandhi. If he was still here, he would not be praising you.  Written by @KingKwajo
Non-violence is an inherently privileged position in the modern context. Besides the fact that the typical pacifist is quite clearly white and middle class, pacifism as an ideology comes from a privileged context. It ignores that violence is already here; that violence is an unavoidable, structurally integral part of the current social hierarchy; and that it is people of color who are most affected by that violence. Pacifism assumes that white people who grew up in the suburbs with all their basic needs met can counsel oppressed people, many of whom are people of color, to suffer patiently under an inconceivably greater violence, until such time as the Great White Father is swayed by the movement’s demands or the pacifists achieve that legendary “critical mass.”

People of color in the internal colonies of the US cannot defend themselves against police brutality or expropriate the means of survival to free themselves from economic servitude. They must wait for enough people of color who have attained more economic privilege (the “house slaves” of Malcolm X’s analysis) and conscientious white people to gather together and hold hands and sing songs. Then, they believe, change will surely come. People in Latin America must suffer patiently, like true martyrs, while white activists in the US “bear witness” and write to Congress. People in Iraq must not fight back. Only if they remain civilians will their deaths be counted and mourned by white peace activists who will, one of these days, muster a protest large enough to stop the war. Indigenous people need to wait just a little longer (say, another 500 years) under the shadow of genocide, slowly dying off on marginal lands, until-well, they’re not a priority right now, so perhaps they need to organize a demonstration or two to win the attention and sympathy of the powerful. Or maybe they could go on strike, engage in Gandhian noncooperation? But wait-a majority of them are already unemployed, noncooperating, fully excluded from the functioning of the system.

Nonviolence declares that the American Indians could have fought off Columbus, George Washington, and all the other genocidal butchers with sit-ins; that Crazy Horse, by using violent resistance, became part of the cycle of violence, and was “as bad as” Custer. Nonviolence declares that Africans could have stopped the slave trade with hunger strikes and petitions, and that those who mutinied were as bad as their captors; that mutiny, a form of violence, led to more violence, and, thus, resistance led to more enslavement. Nonviolence refuses to recognize that it can only work for privileged people, who have a status protected by violence, as the perpetrators and beneficiaries of a violent hierarchy.

Pacifists must know, at least subconsciously, that nonviolence is an absurdly privileged position, so they make frequent usage of race by taking activists of color out of their contexts and selectively using them as spokespersons for nonviolence. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are turned into representatives for all people of color. Nelson Mandela was too, until it dawned on white pacifists that Mandela used nonviolence selectively, and that he actually was involved in liberation activities such as bombings and preparation for armed uprising. Even Gandhi and King agreed it was necessary to support armed liberation movements (citing two examples, those in Palestine and Vietnam, respectively) where there was no nonviolent alternative, clearly prioritizing goals over particular tactics. But the mostly white pacifists of today erase this part of the history and re-create nonviolence to fit their comfort level, even while “claiming the mantle” of Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. One gets the impression that if Martin Luther King Jr. were to come in disguise to one of these pacifist vigils, he would not be allowed to speak. As he pointed out:

“Apart from bigots and backlashers, it seems to be a malady even among those whites who like to regard themselves as “enlightened.” I would especially refer to those who counsel, “Wait!” and to those who say that they sympathize with our goals but cannot condone our methods of direct-action in pursuit of those goals. I wonder at men who dare to feel that they have some paternalistic right to set the timetable for another man’s liberation.”
I’m very much concerned with how the history of the southern freedom movement or civil rights movement is portrayed. And, I’m very conscious of the gaps in the history, and one important gap in the history, in the portrayal of the movement, is the role of guns in the movement. I worked in the South, I lived with families in the South. There was never a family I stayed with that didn’t have a gun. I know from personal experience and the experiences of others, that guns kept people alive, kept communities safe and all you have to do to understand this is simply think of black people as human beings and they’re gonna respond to terrorism the way anybody else would. …The southern freedom movement has become so defined, the narrative of the movement has become so defined by non-violence that anything presented outside that narrative framework really isn’t paid that much attention to. I like the quip that Julian Bond made…that really the way the public understands the civil rights movement can be boiled down to one sentence: Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, then the white folks saw the light and saved the day.
—  Charles E. Cobb Jr., “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible”
I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence. A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.
—  Pema Chodron
Everybody loves King because King was an honest man. Even if you disagree with his tactics, even if you disagree with his strategy, you must respect the man who’s actions conforms to his words. And whether you liked it or not, he said “nonviolence;” he was in the front lines, Jack. He said, “nonviolence;” he was the first who went to jail. He said, “nonviolence;” he was the first to be whooped. Therefore, you have to respect this man even if you don’t like him. I know many who said, “Well I ain’t going for that nonviolence stuff; I ain’t into that.” “Watcha doin’?” “Nothing.” “Shut up.” You don’t criticize somebody whose doing something when you’re doing nothing.
—  Kwame Ture (Formerly known as Stokely Carmichael)

The Lesson From Ferguson: Riots Work by Justin King | Mint Press News

Ferguson, Missouri (TFC) – After a cop killed an unarmed teenager, riots broke out. After the grand jury failed to indict the cop and the police tear gassed innocent protesters, riots broke out. Now that the tear gas and smoke has cleared, Americans are coming to a shocking conclusion: the riots worked.

In scores of cities across the country the same scenario has played out: a cop kills an unarmed person in a blatantly unjustified shooting, the officer says the magic words of “I feared for my life,” and he gets away with murder. Possibly the most interesting thing is that Mike Brown’s death, while unjustified, was probably the most excused by the media. His death was the only one that wasn’t completely in vain. Why? Because the citizens of the community rioted.

In Beavercreek, Ohio a young man was gunned down by cops inside a Wal-Mart while committing no crime whatsoever. The officer was completely exonerated despite a video clearly depicting an unjustified shooting and months of protests. The police chief promised to resign, and then changed his mind once the heat died down. Would a riot have changed this? Is violence the only effective way to send a message in America? Many now say, “Yes.” To quote an activist involved with protesting both events,

“It’s speaking to the government in the only language they understand: force.”

Since the outbreak of violence in Ferguson, civil rights leaders and politicians from every level of government have advocated peace. Americans are now asking why they should employ peaceful tactics while the government does not, and noticing that those peaceful tactics have yet to make the people safe from police abuse.

The government has trained people to believe peaceful protesting works. The government-run media holds Martin Luther King, Jr. above all others in the discussion of the American civil rights movement.  Of course, decades later the American people have found out that the decision to propose the Civil Rights Act was not because of the eloquent words of the Reverend.  Instead, it has been revealed that the legislation was proposed because federal authorities were concerned with people going cop hunting. It’s contrary to everything you’ve been told in your history books, but there’s no need to take a book’s word for it. Declassified tapes show that the Birmingham riot was the reason for Civil Rights Act. Robert Kennedy said

“The Negro Reverend Walker…he said that the Negroes, when dark comes tonight, they’re going to start going after the policemen – headhunting – trying to shoot to kill policemen. He says it’s completely out of hand….you could trigger off a good deal of violence around the country now, with Negroes saying they’ve been abused for all these years and they’re going to follow the ideas of the Black Muslims now…If they feel on the other hand that the federal government is their friend, that it’s intervening for them, that it’s going to work for them, then it will head some of that off. I think that’s the strongest argument for doing something…”

President Kennedy replied

“First we have to have law and order, so the Negro’s not running all over the city… If the [local Birmingham desegregation] agreement blows up, the other remedy we have under that condition is to send legislation [The Civil Rights Act] up to congress this week as our response…As a means of providing relief we have to have legislation.”

Violence, not extremely eloquent speeches, is what finally produced meaningful legislation.

The other example held up by the media is Ghandi in India. The independence movement in India came into its own around 1800. Ghandi’s passive message began being heard in 1920. Independence wasn’t granted until almost thirty years later in 1947. Another movement sprang up alongside Ghandi’s peaceful movement.  It was called the QUIT India Movement. Ghandi endorsed the movement that carried out bombings and ambushes. Just five short years before the British granted independence, the Indian National Army began waging an amateurish hit a run campaign.

Just like in the case of the American civil rights movement, a charismatic man preaching nonviolence brought the movement together, but it was acts of violence that finally achieved victory.

Nelson Mandela began using nonviolence, but it didn’t work. When widespread violence sprang up against the Apartheid government, suddenly laws were changed.

The killer may have gone free in Ferguson, but the effects of the rioting brought about federal probes. The investigation led to officers being fired, others resigning, the police chief resigning along with the city manager and a municipal judge, and the admission that the Ferguson Police Department engaged in a blatant pattern of racism. There is current pressure on the Mayor of the city to resign, though he is attempting to state that he shouldn’t be held responsible. Those are just the immediate effects inside the city of Ferguson.

Across the country politicians and police chiefs are paying attention and realize that if they stand in the way of justice when an officer kills an unarmed person, they will pay the price. They will lose their position and their pension, but only if a riot occurs.

The very harsh reality of the government only responding to violence has been noticed by many. The country stands in room filled with gunpowder that could ignite an open insurrection, and the police departments are in the room waving a lit match at the people.

So those that condemned the rioting as the pointless destruction of people’s own neighborhoods owe the rioters an apology. The activists and protesters in Ferguson may have struck the first real blow against the government in the war against the police state.

One of the tools used in nonviolent movements is called the pyramid of violence. It’s a very simple model for a complicated world, but the idea is that each level of violence is built on - and can’t exist without - the levels below it.

It’s useful because - while you might not have been able to stop the fatal shooting of Anthony Hill, an unarmed veteran struggling with bipolar disorder, or the shooting of police officers in Ferguson in the head and shoulder - anyone can weaken the lower levels.

Maybe it’s naive and optimistic to think you can make a difference. But it can’t hurt, and the worst thing that will happen is that you and the people around you will have a better understanding of where everyone’s coming from and what they need, and be less quick to make judgements based only on your own experiences and the media.

So, if you’d like, here are some ways to broaden your perspective on protests and police shootings. Be careful - studies show that when we’re presented with different sides, we sometimes selectively remember the evidence that supports what we already believe. So go into this with an open mind:

  1. Read an account of being a police officer in New York City and why the police were angry at Mayor De Blasio. By Steve Osborne, an NYPD officer for 20 years.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the actual Justice Department report on the Ferguson Police Department. Here are annotated excerpts of the main points.
  3. Follow Deray McKesson on Twitter. Deray is a civil rights activist, traveling across the country to protests and spreading messages of the movement.
  4. Watch Reverend Jarrett Maupin, a leader in protests against police brutality, go through police use of force training in Arizona.
  5. Read a post by Kazu Haga on the Ferguson movement and nonviolence. It talks about privilege within the movement itself and includes suggestions for protestor demands. Kazu teaches Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of nonviolence, and learned them directly from Dr. Lafayette.
  6. Read posts of people expressing their anger and fear. Here’s my friend Cecelia on Ferguson. Educator Amy Ongiri on Police Violence and Abuse. Resident Diamond Latchison on growing up in Ferguson.