Sunday, November 30, 2014

Time Magazine Author: "..peaceful protesting is a luxury of those already in mainstream culture"- WRONG!

In a recent piece published by Time Magazine, author Darlena Cunha makes the argument that incidents of rioting like those that have occurred in the last week over the non-indictment of a Ferguson police office in the death of Michael Brown are not only justifiable, but maybe necessary in the battle to end racial discrimination in America.

Now, there is a fair argument to be made that IF your particular cause is truly "just" and you have been unable to advance the changes needed to correct by any and all other means, than some level of "non-peaceful" action may be required. The author makes this as her primary argument throughout the piece, even invoking the Boston Tea Party as an example of a "riot" that was necessary to advance change.

BUT, and it is a rather big BUT, that argument is fundamentally flawed on several points.

The comparison to the Boston Tea Party is a bit of a stretch for one. While the "tea party" did effectively destroy property, it wasn't the property of THEIR OWN COMMUNITY they destroyed, it still technically belonged to the East India Trading Company, not the community of Boston.

Secondly, the action carried out by the "tea party" was not even remotely violent, as dumping tea into the water is unlikely to injure or maim anyone. Further, the community had exhausted all other means of stopping the tea from being unloaded on Boston's docks (all over "tea ships" send along the American coast has been successful turned back by getting those signing for the delivered tea to refuse to do so, thus forcing the ships to return to England).

Only IF the "tea party" had actually say, set fire to the ships (thus endangering the lives of the ship's crew), would such a comparison be valid, so nice try there Ms. Cunha.

On the other hand, the rioters in Ferguson not only committed acts of violence that could under ANY circumstances injure or even kill people, they also destroyed property in their own local community that could do untold damage to the local economy and thus make the lives of those living in the rioters communities EVEN WORSE than they already are.

This later point is the one that really gets under my skin. Why is that the frustrations of those protesting (and in turn those who hijacked that protest to riot) in Ferguson trump the rights of the owners of the destroyed/damaged businesses in Ferguson? These local business had absolutely nothing to do with the decision of the grand jury not the actions that happened that terrible day and yet, by Ms. Cunha's logical, it is justifiable and defensible.

Further, it's not just the owners of these businesses who have had their property and livelihoods disrupted by these rioters, but also the employees of these business (many likely making minimum wage).

So, Ms. Cunha's effort to use history as an example and precedent for the rioters damage in Ferguson being a total failure, let's move on to her final point concerning "peaceful protesters" shall we?

"I would put forth that peaceful protesting is a luxury of those already in mainstream culture, those who can be assured their voices will be heard without violence, those who can afford to wait for the change they want."

From a TRUE civil rights leader:

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.” 

And with non-violent protests like those conducted and inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, the way was paved for the Civil Rights Act of 1964..and it's quite hard to argue that Rev. King was "in the mainstream culture" when he began his peaceful protests.

The "luxury" Ms. Cunha, is to believe your cause is JUST and STILL refrain from violence even when those opposed to your cause commit violence against you, because only THEN can you show the world the morality of your cause.


All comments and/or opinions expressed in the above work are purely those of the author unless otherwise noted and do not represent that opinions/positions of any political or non-political organization or the Department of the Defense. Any/all distribution of this work MUST contain this disclaimer. 

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