Jan. 22nd, 2017

lydy: (me by ddb)
Let's start with a basic that is often forgotten: peaceful protests are a tactic, not a virtue. They have been, in several very notable cases, an effective method to change deep injustice. Non-violence is a tactic used by numerous but out-gunned people against an opponent who can feel shame. Non-violence has a lot of really good follow-ons. It tends not to escalate out of control, it tends to have very little in the way of collateral damage (unless, of course, you are counting the protesters, which you probably should), and it's easy to explain. It's damn hard to do. It is a tactic which supports its goal.

It is a terrible mistake to judge a movement only by its tactics. I have had more than one argument with someone who insisted I had to support the abortion clinic sit-ins because I honor the lunch counter sit-ins from the Sixties, for instance. That I should honor the Promise Keepers because they had a large, peaceful march and I approved of large, peaceful marches to protest George W. That because I believe in freedom of speech, I should approve of hatred being spewed onto the airwaves by Rush Limbaugh. And this is what I have to say about that: fuck that noise. If the ends do not justify the means, then surely the means do not justify the ends. Also, seriously, there's no particularly useful bright line between means and ends, so stop being a sophomoric idiot and think.

It is also impossible to ignore the fact that policing priorities in this country are property, particularly corporate property, first and foremost. Compare the response time and manpower assigned to a silent alarm from an empty jewelry store compared to a call from someone with an on-going home invasion. Please notice that the cops thought defense for murdering Michael Brown in Ferguson was that he might have shoplifted some tobacco products. It is instructive that they thought that this was a reasonable defense. Even if you try to look away, you can't fail to know that the police in this country care a whole hell of a lot more for property than they do for people.

Why, then, is it a surprise that people pushed beyond all reason, strike at the only thing that the police and society apparently care about? (Also, the sound of smashing glass is pretty rad.) If you have reached the point where peaceful protests have not worked, and I think it is possible to argue that we have, then breaking a few windows and trashing a few cars does not seem unreasonable. At least it will be heard. Over the last fifty years, the "establishment" (I don't have a better term right to hand) has developed some very effective ways of dealing with non-violent protests. I don't think that the use of peaceful protest has entirely run its course, but I think that we may need other things as well.

Here is where I say I really, really don't know. I don't know what happens next. I don't know what we need to do. I am scared by violence. I hate entropy, and I despise breaking things. I think that the breaking of things can escalate to the breaking of people. But I also think that we are too quick to equate property damage with actual violence against people, and we need to cut that shit out. That's how we get shoplifting being a capital offense. Breaking stuff is scary and dangerous. It is not the same thing as hitting people. Please notice how often the cops use property damage as an excuse to hurt people. Not just arrest them, but pepper spray them, shoot rubber bullets at them, beat them with sticks, and taser them. These are not morally equivalent actions, and we must begin to understand that.

The massive, peaceful, creative protests yesterday are inspiring, and definitely suggest that peaceful protests have not run their course. They still have power. They still matter. But, dear ones, we're in for the long haul, here. And it is possible that not every protester will choose that path. What I'd like to ask is that you consider the possibility that they are right to choose other methods.

I also want to talk about people's reaction to the Clocking of Richard Spencer. A lot of my friends love watching it, but feel a little guilty about it. Here are some things to consider before you get your guilt on. First, no one has ever said, "Gosh, I wish we'd given the Nazis the benefit of the doubt. They might have turned things around." Universally, what people say is, "We should have fought back sooner and harder." So there's that.

I think it is also important to notice the way in which the media has failed us. Look the media always makes choices about what positions are too far out there to report on. I mean, they don't do the "both sides" nonsense with the flat-earthers every time they talk about space exploration. More noticeably, when was the last time that they quoted a Trotskyist when covering a labor dispute? You may not know it, but the United States is blessed with a great many smart, educated, articulate Trotskyists. The reason you don't know this is because the mainstream media thinks they are too far out to talk to or about. So we know they do this. We can see it. So why did Richard Fucking Spencer and his trough of evil, vile shit become something that they report upon. Not just once, but multiple times. And in ways that make it seem like it is a set of beliefs that we should consider, the same way we might consider whether or not Obamacare makes long-term financial sense for the United States.

At the point that Spencer was clocked, he was being asked about his Pepe lapel pin by a reporter. That is to say, he was being given yet another platform from which to promulgate his sly, slick, racist evil shit. And the fact that he got clocked means that instead of talking about that vileness, we're talking about whether or not somebody should have hit him. Which is a much better conversation. It's a damn shame that the Fourth Estate can't be trusted with a damn microphone. Thank god for the Nazi punchers.


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