I hold some truths to be self-evident. There’s a resistance in my chest when I am confronted by what my heart reads as false. That internal pressure–that’s the signature of a principle.
Who knows where my principles come from? A lifetime visceral revulsion at violence, for sure. Or a learned distrust of statements that scrub out doubt and detail in favor of certitude and a simple slogan.
Some things are simply factually wrong. The right wing specializes in those. Thugs in black are not traveling by airplane to destroy your suburb. There are no, do I need to say it, lizard people. The thing about lizard people is if you believe in them, you will believe in them hard. You will lock on like a pit bull on a poodle. We can blast you with a fire hose of truth and you will not let go. So we move on.
But we hear other things, from other quarters. They get repeated. Every age has its platitudes, but time does not always redeem them. Gosh, we used to believe love was all you need, and it isn’t.
One thing we’re hearing now is that all protest is equally worthy. That there is no wrong way. That we can’t tell other people how to resist.
Bullshit. Of course we can. Perhaps what is meant is that we can’t tell people how to feel. And since we can’t know what it’s like to be in their skin, we can’t be critical of their actions. It’s a platitude from a new age in which all voices are encouraged, and every opinion entertained. If Tyler wants to burn a dumpster for civil rights, shouldn’t he be allowed to express himself? Well, that’s one special kind of emotional anarchy, one in which every response is as righteous as every other, and every individual must be a vigilante for the truth as they see it. And if so, that must be extended to those who murder abortion doctors and those who show up in the town square bristling with assault rifles in defense of the freedom to bristle. Should Tyler’s country cousin storm a wildlife refuge for the liberty to plunder public lands?
And we hear that if peaceful protest hasn’t gotten us anywhere, violence and destruction will. Peacemaking is naïve and ineffectual. That’s what warriors have been insisting for thousands of years, but if warring ways have gotten us any closer to peace and justice, I haven’t seen it.
I read a quote from Martin Luther King that was trotted out in service of this notion that all protest is legitimate. “I think,” he said, “that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.” Which meant he understood why people riot. He sympathized. As Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” Absolutely.
But telling people how to protest is exactly what John Lewis and King did. The Freedom Riders were trained in passive resistance. It took work, practice, courage. It wasn’t easy. It isn’t natural. Blood was shed. But the power of peaceful resistance is immense. It can move mountains.
We can’t tell other people how to protest? Of course we can. We can distinguish between raw feeling and wise action. We can strategize. Under our big, broad tent, we can insist people not pee in the kitchen area.
Same for any blanket characterization. It’s easier to look at the world this way, assign people simple uniforms of good and evil and play them in our heads like checkers, but it won’t be true, and the truth will out. There are a lot of good ideas for police reform and defunding. But when you deride cops as an evil monolith, you’ve lost me. Because I know it’s unfair. It’s untrue. It’s lazy. There’s plenty of work to be done, but you will not achieve justice with a false premise.
I’m sure it’s satisfying to punch a Nazi. It’s also a great way to get a lot of people dead and keep a lot of the wrong people in power. Let your heart ache, but use your head.
This town is all in for Black Lives Matter. It’s not even controversial. So the Patriot Prayer Boys are coming back on the 26th. There is nothing this gang of outsiders likes better than to costume up, invade our home as if it’s enemy territory–and it is–and holler about their favorite little fragment of the Constitution. To provoke a predictable response and get it made into a poster for the evil empire. Maybe spark a war. Why do we want to give them exactly what they want?
Let’s stay home for a day. Or gather peacefully in a glory of numbers, miles away from them, and sing. Sing anything. America the Beautiful. Build Me Up Buttercup. Let’s dispatch one dude with a tuba to march around the Proud Boys with derp music. How flimsy a fist will get when its target turns away! Let’s ignore the incel army and watch them go limp.
If you value peace you stand up for it every time. And you work for justice.
Thank you, Murr! Thank you. Thank you.
As I have aged I realize that I would not be very good at violence even if I wanted to be. There is still a long way to go and we can still move forward. We must.
This is the first time I've ever wanted to be able to play the tuba.
Isn't that marvelous? I'm told it's a Sousaphone, BTW.
Can you publish this in a local paper? It would be great if what you have proposed could happen.
Yahbut nobody reads the local paper…
I do. So do the trumpster constitutionalists next door. So you need a better excuse for not submitting your very wise argument to the big O.
When he hit The Flight of the Valkyries, I burst out laughing. Passive resistance and derp music might just solve all the world's problems.
We were required to attend a sensing session at work this week to talk about recent events and I sure wish we hadn’t. Now I know a certain person believes with all his heart that BLM is a Marxist Organization funded by George Soros. Argh! The resistance of a certain segment of our society to facts and their support of a sociopath in the White House makes it seem we may be facing another civil war. Not sure if nonviolence will work this time but we must try. I always believed if media would simply ignore the orange demon he would be stripped of much of his power. But there would always be FOX and Rush and InfoWars and religious charlatans to fill their minds with fear and hate. You are right. Not even a firehose of facts can change their need to believe otherwise. Let the Proud Boys have their own party and hope the media ignores them.
Well, the counterprotest is already getting organized.
Drat- that could be just like Tulsa, where they took the virus off to more states after it. RIC airport is about to do the same, and there are already cases from there.
Stay home folks,and let the Darwin Award contestants do their thing.
Mayor Wheeler has just rescinded or denied the Proud Boys' permit. Kinda doubt that it will stop them, but.
Not a Civil War. An Uncivil War.
As they generally are.
Right on Murr!
Hurrah for the tuba player! Another choice selection would have been "The ants go marching"
…except that's also When Johnny Comes Marching Home, and Civil War music MIGHT not be where we want to go…
I could never think so deeply and come up with such eloquence as you do. Sensible eloquence at that. I'm just not that smart, which is why I am proud to "know" someone like you who can say these things.
Thanks, but many smart people disagree with me! I think I'm going with my gut here.
Sometimes you just can't hide that inner humanity Murr: your underlying gentle wisdom sneaks out in between the hilarious poop observations and the wry commentary on the foibles of your neighbours and your many avain visitors.
Have a very happy birthday, and many many more of them.
OH thanks for that! This is kind of a nothing birthday but I'll take all of 'em.
I am so glad I clicked on that video. That really was a tuba player. I love being fearless around people who are so determined to frighten us. I'm not fearless but I pretend to be, especially since I put a Biden sign in my car window. Trump has enabled, emboldened, and encouraged these awful DEPLORABLES. There, I said it.
He's done so much more harm than I could ever have imagined, and I imagined plenty.
Just picture the Patriot Boys marching without an audience. Talk about letting the air out of the tire.
Shriveled scrotums everywhere!
Not to quibble over terminology, but I prefer to think of hypogonadism, rather than shriveled scrotums. The former implies that something never fully developed or has been functionally impaired by disease or trauma. But whatever…..I just loved the Sousaphone!
They can't just shrivel in shame, huh?
AMEN AMEN AMEN
Violence ended royal rule in the United States. It ended it in France. It ended it in Russia, China, Ireland and India. Violence ended the Nazis and the Fascists. Sorry, without at least the threat of violence, rulers that control the police and the military are free to ignore everything they don't want to acknowledge.
Well spoken. And it needs to be repeatedly said. Regrettably, it also needs to be heard, and that is a harder thing to accomplish.
This is just so good, Murr. Every word.
“A ballot is just a substitute for a bullet. If your vote isn’t backed by a bullet, it is meaningless. Without the bullet, people could ignore the election outcome. Voting would be pointless. Democracy has violence at its very core!” ~Muir Matteson, “The Nonviolent Zone”