My friend Wes recently posted a nice piece on the issues with movements like antifi which sometimes feel need to express themselves through violence. Often times this ends up creating a vicious cycle where violence begets even more violence from the other side. Each side considering themselves more and more justified in their escalating war because they could always just point at the other and say that they were just defending themselves.
As a liberal, I understand the place where their anger comes from. Fascism and hatred are blights of humanity and need to be dealt with. The issue, obviously, comes in the method. Will the vast, overwhelming majority of anti-fascists understand and support peaceful protest, there are those that feel the only way to get their message across is through violent confrontation.
It reminded me of another sad, but related, chapter in American history, the Civil Rights movement. Although I wasn’t around at the time, the history of figures such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. are mainstays of my historical education. These were two figures that both agreed that the rights of African Americans were been suppressed, but they had very different beliefs in how to affect change. While MLK preached a message of non-violent resistance, Malcolm X was willing to pay a higher price. He believed that violence would be the outcome of the crisis of disenfranchisement. He never advocated that people should actively attack others, but he wasn’t above using force to defend the rights of black people.
These two figure had the same goal in mind, yet they both approached it differently. As we look at the current crisis facing our nation today, we all need to decide which side we fall on. It’s not always an easy decision though. As a middle class white male, it’s hard for me to put myself into the shoes of a person who has been told that their very existence is an affront to humanity. How would any of us react when we’re told that we’re lesser people, simply because of the color of our skin? I would hope that I’d adopt the path of non-violence, but one can imagine how conflicted a person would be.
Let’s pray that as these issues continue to rear their ugly heads that we can reign in that part of us that wants to strike out at those that hate. We must always stand for what is right, but we should always strive to let our actions reflect the rightness of our cause.