Tookie and the myth of non-violent protest

A police beatingTonight the state of California is scheduled to execute Stanley Tookie Williams, co founder of the Crypts, after Governor Schwarzenegger made the determination that Williams was not sufficiently redeemed to merit clemency.
 
All sorts of state and local organizations were abuzz about the possibility of riots should Williams be executed. The consensus was to urge every riot minded person to remember that the reformed Williams stood for non-violence.

Now isn’t that just like an authoritarian state to honor Stanley Williams with non-violence in word, while perpetrating institutional violence in deed against his defenseless body?

I’m not sure what could be accomplished by public violence in this case, but the threat of violence from the masses has always played a significant role in holding off the authoritarian ambitions of greedy bastards.

These days of protest against the war have raised profound anti-violence issues, extending from transcending human nature to the more applied martyrdom for the purpose of igniting support. But the immediate result and absolute result seems to be that the bullies get to keep all the marbles.

We are told to respect Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, and now Tookie Williams for their seasoned non-violent teachings.

No one is prepared to point to Castro, Mao or Chavez as examples of rebels who resorted to violence and who brought their people to greater prosperity as a result.

I saw a documentary about Tibet recently, in which the Dalai Lama was praised for leading his people in non-violent opposition to the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama can be respected for governing his people in exile, for maintaining in them a sense of hope that their kingdom will be regained. That sense of hope is perhaps the most important motivation they have for keeping their language and cultural heritage alive. The other alternative is to face that they will be a displaced people forever. Each then might better embrace assimilation into their host cultures and prosper.

The reality is that even should Tibet be regained, the westernized and worldly Tibetans would probably not return to their feudal heritage. And the other reality is that Tibet will never be regained.

Holding firm to a policy of non-violence has certainly saved lives, but it has lost principles. The real wisdom of the Dalai Lama might have been the assessment that the Chinese forces would have proven insurmountable and that too many more Tibetans would have perished with the kingdom lost none the less.

Will non-violence prevail over the Chinese occupation? There is no precedence to offer that hope.

We like to credit Gandhi for having proven the efficacy of non-violence, but that is sorely inaccurate. Gandhi sat on the back of the dying elephant of British colonialism, until it collapsed. And it may have collapsed by his sitting on it, but it had been weakened and battered by a century of violent rebellions. British colonial rule in India ended because the elephant had been driven to its knees by many countless uprisings and massacres which the British public could no longer countenance. It took over one hundred years of struggle against oppressive rule to drive the British out, and Gandhi was fortunate enough to deal the death blow by sitting down.

Nelson Mandela too is credited with leading a non-violent takeover of South Africa. Anyone who has read Mandela’s auto-biography knows that this is a misrepresentation. Mandela’s struggle began with violence and then he was incarcerated. Involuntary non-violence.

Martin Luther King provides an example of non-violent martyrdom affecting the conscience of a democratic population. King would be the best model for non-violent protest were we to inhabit a similar circumstance. It is doubtful today that our media possesses a conscience to report about oppression and inhumanity. Likewise it is doubtful that we have retained any meaningful democracy. It remains our horror to discover that public opinion or outrage will affect our governance not one bit.

Isn’t it just like a bully to admonish the rest of the schoolyard to uphold principles of pacifism? The only thing that will bring down a bully is a collective agreement to take him down. Pacifism works against the bully because he knows that if he makes a martyr of somebody, the others will rise up like a mob. Behind non-violent protest lies a looming urgency of violence.

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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