In an article that has gone viral and received tens of thousands of shares, Benji Hart at Salon argues that non-violence is a “tactic” not a “philosophy”: if non-violence doesn’t work, something else must be tried.
Non-violence is a type of political performance designed to raise awareness and win over sympathy of those with privilege. When those on the outside of struggle—the white, the wealthy, the straight, the able-bodied, the masculine—have demonstrated repeatedly that they do not care, are not invested, are not going to step in the line of fire to defend the oppressed, this is a futile political strategy. It not only fails to meet the needs of the community, but actually puts oppressed people in further danger of violence.
Militance … is about saying no, firmly drawing and holding boundaries, demanding the return of stolen resources. And from Queer Liberation and Black Power to centuries-old movements for Native sovereignty and anti-colonialism, it is how virtually all of our oppressed movements were sparked, and has arguably gained us the only real political victories we’ve had under the rule of empire.
Indeed, if they had not engaged in armed defense, the owners of the western hemisphere who have been able to survive the ongoing European invasion, holocaust, and land-theft would likely have been completely wiped out, as the vast majority of the ~100,000,000 residents at the time of the invasion (as compared to Europe’s then ~50,000,000) were.
In China in 2014, violent protesters destroyed police cars and killed four officers:
That year, Chinese police killed 12 people. During the same year, US police killed approximately 1,100 people, disproportionately African Americans, and kill an average of about 1,000 people every year, according to federal statistics.
The New York Times reports that “1.5 million black males between the ages of 25 and 54 have disappeared from free society, mostly as a result of death or jail.” The highest proportion of missing black males is in Ferguson, Missouri.
Citing a charge of genocide brought by the African American population against the US government and brought to the United Nations in 1951, Glenn Ford of the Black Agenda Report has responded to the NY Times findings by re-affirming the charge: “A national policy of mass Black incarceration is the primary factor – a factual basis for a charge of genocide.”
Quigley continues: “Professor Michelle Alexander concludes that it is no coincidence that the criminal justice system ramped up its processing of African Americans just as the Jim Crow [segregation] laws enforced since the age of slavery ended [in 1965]. Her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness sees these facts as evidence of the new way the US has decided to control African Americans – a racialized system of social control.”
Chauncey deVega of We Are Respectable Negroes writes:
The rendering of spectacular violence against non-whites paid a psychological wage to white people that helped to create a type of social cement for White America, one that covered up its own intra-group tensions of class, religion, and gender. This racial logic continues in the present with a racially discriminatory criminal justice system, the murder by police of black and brown people, and how white Americans support such unfair treatment.
…the news media presents the anger, protest, and violence in response as if it’s completely divorced from any larger historical or sociological context. Baltimore proves yet again why history urgently matters. The world we live in is the product of the past, and the only way to understand that world properly is to know its history.
Indeed, Cornell University historian Edward E. Baptist documents that if it were not for industrialized American torture and murder of Africans in US slave-labor camps (the non-euphemistic term he uses for “plantations”) to force them, at gun-point, to work ever-faster to pick more cotton, the US would never have become the world’s leading economy; the economy on which US America stands today as it preaches to the world is made of torture and forced labor of Africans, carried out on stolen and ethnically cleansed land.
Joe Catron succinctly reminds that many US Americans have a long and ongoing record of condemning their innumerable victims for engaging in self-defense. People of this mindset are not even selective pacifists; rather, they are predators who want to dominate, exploit, and repress, and meet no resistance.
The long history of the US batterer’s outlook stems from condemning the owners of the land for resisting British/US invasion, mass murder, and land-theft, and extends to condemning Iraqis and others for resisting US invasion and mass murder. It stems from whites treating slave uprisings as the most heinous imaginable atrocity, and extends to Americans today viewing uprisings of black and violently repressed communities similarly.
Dominant America is, in the batterer’s view, given a pass to be the most violent and militant group in the world. The pass is extended to any group currently collaborating with Washington, such as the extremist Wahhabi, Sharia law dictatorship of Saudi Arabia.
A reminder to delicate flowers shocked by a few broken windows in Baltimore: your tax dollars paid to destroy Gaza:
The head of the Red Cross, who has been to war-zones around the world, said he had never seen such destruction as what he witnessed in Gaza.
The UN this week re-confirmed its findings from Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza that Israel intentionally bombed 7 occupied, UN-operated civilian shelters, including at least 3 UN-run girls’ schools.
DW reports that Israel fired “88 mortar rounds” into one girls’ school, an “anti-tank” bomb into another girls’ school, and “155 MM high explosive projectiles” into another girls’ school.
At the time, the UN reported that it had been coordinating with Israel, telling it these shelters were occupied by civilians and under UN control, and had given Israel their exact coordinates 17 times. While Hamas reportedly hid weapons in three empty UN school buildings, those “don’t appear to have been attacked, and Israel instead hit UN sites they knew were loaded down with civilians”, such as little girls.
Indeed, dominant America’s response to violence against it, such as the 9/11/01 attacks, is to carry out incomparably greater violence – even though it was already doing so before the 9/11/01 attacks, such as by knowingly killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.
These and other acts of extreme American violence and terror are given a pass by US society, as they remain unpunished and ongoing:
A recent study by Nobel-winning Physicians for Social responsibility finds that ongoing US wars on Iraq, Aghanistan, and Pakistan may have killed more than 2 million people over ten years.
Amnesty International has teamed up with Noam Chomsky to call attention to an “American torture story”: “Despite the release of a report … by a Senate committee, which provides evidence of these horrific crimes, the U.S. Justice Department refuses to act.” In fact, recalling what Chomsky has referred to as “intentional ignorance”, “the department apparently refuses to even read the report”.
Benji Hart ends his piece in Salon with:
Black power, Queer power, power to Baltimore, and to all oppressed people who know what time it is.
Reporter and his UK-based colleague on twitter @_DirtyTruths.