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Thu Nov 27, 2014, 12:52 PM

What clearly cannot be said is that violence—like nonviolence—sometimes works.

What clearly cannot be said is that American society's affection for nonviolence is notional. What cannot be said is that American society's admiration for Martin Luther King Jr. increases with distance, that the movement he led was bugged, smeared, harassed, and attacked by the same country that now celebrates him. King had the courage to condemn not merely the violence of blacks, nor the violence of the Klan, but the violence of the American state itself.

What clearly cannot be said is that violence and nonviolence are tools, and that violence—like nonviolence—sometimes works. "Property damage and looting impede social progress," Jonathan Chait wrote Tuesday. He delivered this sentence with unearned authority. Taken together, property damage and looting have been the most effective tools of social progress for white people in America. They describe everything from enslavement to Jim Crow laws to lynching to red-lining.

.............

What cannot be said is that America does not really believe in nonviolence—Barack Obama has said as much—so much as it believes in order. What cannot be said is that there are very convincing reasons for black people in Ferguson to be nonviolent. But those reasons emanate from an intelligent fear of the law, not a benevolent respect for the law.

...........

Black people know what cannot be said. What clearly cannot be said is that the events of Ferguson do not begin with Michael Brown lying dead in the street, but with policies set forth by government at every level. What clearly cannot be said is that the people of Ferguson are regularly plundered, as their grandparents were plundered, and generally regarded as a slush-fund for the government that has pledged to protect them. What clearly cannot be said is the idea of superhuman black men who "bulk up" to run through bullets is not an invention of Darren Wilson, but a staple of American racism.



MORE:
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/11/barack-obama-ferguson-and-the-evidence-of-things-unsaid/383212/

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Reply What clearly cannot be said is that violence—like nonviolence—sometimes works. (Original post)
kpete Nov 2014 OP
Scootaloo Nov 2014 #1
GliderGuider Nov 2014 #3
Scootaloo Nov 2014 #4
GliderGuider Nov 2014 #6
TheKentuckian Nov 2014 #5
TheKentuckian Nov 2014 #2

Response to kpete (Original post)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 12:58 PM

1. Nonviolence only works because of violence

 

It's something a lot of people desperately try to ignore, but think about it.

Gandhi, King, Mandela.. .these men are lauded, even sainted, as paragons of nonviolent success. But what did they have in common? None of the three, nor many like them, were asking. King was not pleading for rights, Gandhi didn't have his hat out, Nelson was not on his knees. no, all three men were telling the power, informing them that it was either the peaceful way represented by these men... or the violent way, represented by the millions of angry, oppressed people behind them.

Gandhi, King, Mandela? They were ultimatums. They may be the face of their movements, but the angry people behind htem were the bodies; the hands, the feet, the hearts, the minds.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 01:02 PM

3. What an insightful summary! +10^1000 nt

 

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 01:11 PM

4. What really, deeply bothers me....

 

is that "sainting" of these men. Now, honestly, they certainly deserve respect and admiration. but the mythology of Gandhi, of King, and increasingly Mandela, holds little in common with the actual men. And what I see is that oppressed people seeking a way out are constantly held to that impossible, saintly expectation that even the icons themselves didn't live up to... and they are attacked, denigrated, dismissed if they fail to meet that standard.

From people looking at Ferguson and huffing about "What would Martin Luther king do?" all the way over to people asking, "Where's the Palestinian Gandhi, huh?" these figures of leadership out of oppression are being stolen and used to defend oppression, people saying that if you do not meet or exceed the standard of these sainted icons - standards they themselves could never have met - you do not deserve freedom or rights or even life.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 01:19 PM

6. Their canonization is par for the course.

 

Humans are myth-making animals after all. The powerful always co-opt our myths and re-frame them to their advantage - it;'s how they consolidate their power. Monotheistic religion is a classic example, and the fact that these men are now called "saintly" is no accident.

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Response to Scootaloo (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 01:14 PM

5. Quite true. Further, the limits of their "victories" are essentially verboten conversation.

At best battles were won at high costs. At worse, effectively just hanging up an "under new management" sign with the exact same ownership laughing it up behind closed doors.

Mostly both is the story in each case.

Tools make poor philosophy.

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Response to kpete (Original post)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 01:01 PM

2. It is always stupid to make a tactic effectively a religion. Tactics are tools that work to varying

degrees in specific situations.

There is no magic sometimes tactics can be the most effective means and in another situation the same actions can be wholly ineffectual or even counter productive.

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