Trending topics . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

4 WORDS: " . . . and eliminate OUR nukes!"

Social media is on fire with talk of the #IranDeal.


@WorldBeyondWar on Twitter:
YES to #IranDeal 
and stop the threat
 . . . from the U.S.


This is a good thing because US people are realizing that they have representatives in Congress -- with names, faces, and positions -- and that those representatives need to listen to them.

And because US people are realizing that the problems of constant war threats, and of nuclear weapons, need to be solved.

Now comes the big question: will people in the US make the giant leap to understand that they can and must tell Congress to get rid of US nuclear weapons?


Charlie Keil on Facebook:
"The amount of time, energy, money, spent to get this far on ONE agreement
between a half dozen nations needs to be spent quickly and urgently on getting
a "no more nuclear weapons and full inspection" agreement between the 10 or a
dozen nuclear powers. Peace is the Way! Probably the only way to a lasting
agreement on fullstopping climate change and getting back to 350."


TAKE ACTION




Related posts


The decision about whether to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation is our decision. And that is why the entire country is mobilizing for mass action for nuclear disarmament in 2015. Are we capable of making sure the messengers -- Obama, Putin, the other agents of government -- hear their instructions from us clearly?

(See NEEDED: Heroes to Bring About Nuclear Disarmament )



Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon - a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War - deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

(See Reviews of "Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom" by Elaine Scarry )










There will be no shortage of members of Congress who see this as an opportunity to puff out their chests and wave their arms and insist on continued conflict. It will be the work of the people to insist that the path of peace be followed through.

(See Talk With Somebody About Iran Today. (Maybe a Member of Congress?))




There are three centers of power that will impact nuclear disarmament: the President, the Congress, and the people. One of them will have to make nuclear disarmament happen.

(See Countdown to U.S. Nuclear Disarmament (With or Without the Politicians) )

Friday, August 21, 2015

"COSTLY": What's Keeping Us From Standing Up to Police Violence?

Chicago City Council - Chicago Sun-Times graphic - click to see large image


What is standing in the way of many more people becoming active in the effort to obtain community control of the Chicago police?

What is standing in the way of the 50 Chicago aldermen taking action to place control of the Chicago police in the hands of the people who elected them?

These questions feel especially pressing, given that thousands are projected to participate in a march for community control of the police in Chicago on Saturday, August 29.

I read some very painful words in Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates that help me think about this.


"The Dream"

In his book, Coates talks about "The Dream." I invite you to read the whole book to fully understand what "The Dream" is, but my simple summary is: people (black and white) want racism in the US to go away, and "The Dream" is that the simple fact of having more and more black people living a livestyle that is characterized by some material well-being (even affluence), and the privilege that material well-being brings -- i.e. a lifestyle approaching the lifestyle available to white people -- is moving the US towards overcoming racism.

Coates sees problems with "The Dream." A big one is that "The Dream" does nothing for the young man (or woman) who has been shot dead by the police. Writing of the police killing of Coates' fellow graduate of Howard University, Prince Jones, Coates says:

The moment the officers began their pursuit of Prince Jones, his life was in danger. The Dreamers accept this as the cost of doing business, accept our bodies as currency, because it is their tradition. (p. 131)

"Cost of doing business" . . . .

(Cost . . . cost . . . where have I heard talk of "cost" recently . . . ?)

The police have the power to ruin our lives, or to end them.  Maybe better to just give them a wide berth? Just play along?

But Coates poses a stark choice:

I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free. (p. 143)

"Live white . . . [or] . . . live free" . . . .

(But will there be a cost?)

And then he goes a step further in condemning the "cost of doing business" habit:

The Dream is the same habit that endangers the planet, the same habit that sees our bodies stowed away in prisons and ghettos. (p. 151)

In other words: the "cost of doing business" habit is a habit we can't afford not to break.


So where are we supposed to find the inner strength to pay the cost of standing up to police violence, rather than slipping away to our comfortable lives with the "cost of doing business" excuse?

The 50 Chicago aldermen need to find the inner strength to pay the cost of standing up to police violence, rather than slipping away to their comfortable lives with the "cost of doing business" excuse.

ALL OF US need to find the inner strength to pay the cost of standing up to police violence, rather than slipping away to our comfortable lives with the "cost of doing business" excuse.


TAKE ACTION

(or at similar events in your own community).


Related posts

It's time for Chicago's Progressive Caucus as a whole -- and all its members individually -- to come out strongly in favor of a democratically-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) for Chicago.

(See A Modest Proposal for Chicago's Progressive Caucus: Support CPAC )











#BlackLivesMatter: When all is said and done, how many career politicians in Chicago will have crashed and burned along the way because they couldn't or wouldn't step up and lead on this issue?

(See #PeopleOverPolice: Is This What Democracy Looks Like? )







This tweet seems perfectly timed because of what is about to happen in a few weeks in Chicago.

(See Nonviolent Direct Action to Stop Police Crimes: Effective? )








Thursday, August 20, 2015

People Power Against War in Japan: A Lesson for Us All?

Our World Beyond War statement today on protests taking place in Japan said,

World Beyond War endorses the efforts of peace groups throughout Japan to protect Japan’s “peace constitution,” and to oppose pending legislation currently being promoted by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that would re-militarize Japan. Peace groups will mobilize throughout Japan (at last count, 32 locations) on Sunday, August 23, and other days in the coming week.

(Isn't it UNBELIEVABLE that Abe and his US allies are trying to re-introduce warmaking on the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki???)

I love the graphic that we've been tweeting to share this message on social media:


@WorldBeyondWar on Twitter:
#23AugProtests for a Japan (and a world) BEYOND WAR!
Support Japan Protesters      Protect Peace Constitution
(Please retweet this message.)


I love the part where the number "9" is breaking a missile -- a symbol of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which forswears war:


Article 9 of the Japanese constitution breaks a missile


And I love the people with the banner that says, "Read the constitution! Participating in war is prohibited"


The people of Japan say:
"Read the constitution! Participating in war is prohibited!"


I love the dove, the "No War, No Nuclear" banner, the peace-sign ballon, the monk, the frog, and especially the worried-looking PM Abe.

But what I especially love is all the people:


People mobilizing across Japan against re-militarization


You might think that each person is just another face in the crowd, but if you look closely, they're all carefully drawn to depict an individual, and it's all these individuals working together that is going to stop Japan's return to militarization and war.

As I write, demonstrations are being prepared in 32 different locations across Japan.

It reminds me of another "faces in the crowd" image:


L E V I A T H A N
Or
The Matter, Forme,
and Power of a Common
Wealth Ecclesiastical
and Civil


As I explained in an earlier blog post: To really understand this image, go to the online images accompanying Elaine Scarry's book, Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom. . . . Look at the high resolution reproduction of the original image from Leviathan. . . .Zoom in . . . look at individual faces.   . . . As Elaine explains, "the outward-looking faces of the drawing . . .  successfully convey Hobbes’s central thesis that the Leviathan is constituted by our own bodies." (emphasis added) . . .

We are the common body - the community, the commonwealth, the society, the nation, it is us.


The struggle in Japan is one of biblical proportions. We should all find ways to express our support for the important work of the protesters there. We're all in the same struggle against war together!


TAKE ACTION


Reach out to someone you know
in Japan today and offer your support
for their struggle against re-militarization!


Update -- August 24, 2015: "Young Japanese stage nationwide protests against security bills being debated in Upper House" on Japan Times website.


Members of SEALDs, a group of young people against government
legislation allowing the Self-Defense Forces a greater role internationally,
march in Tokyo's fashionable Omotesando district on Sunday. SEALDs
stand for Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy. | KYODO



Related posts

We have had a window of opportunity -- nearly 70 years in which the constitution of Japan has explicitly renounced war, pointing the way for the rest of us. What have we imagined we were supposed to do?

(See Renouncing War: An Opportunity Not To Be Missed )






The decision about whether to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation is our decision. And that is why the entire country is mobilizing for mass action for nuclear disarmament in 2015. Are we capable of making sure the messengers -- Obama, Putin, the other agents of government -- hear their instructions from us clearly?

(See NEEDED: Heroes to Bring About Nuclear Disarmament )


Much of my last year has been focused on the 70th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- including innumerable tweets, posts, and shares on social media. Here are some of the things I'm noticing, particularly in connection with the hashtag #HiroshimaNagasaki70 on Twitter.

(See #HiroshimaNagasaki70 - What I Learned on Twitter )













"What must these people who came all the way from Japan be thinking? How do they explain to themselves the huge number of US people who simply can't be bothered to think about the nuclear threat?"

(See "Two nuclear weapons hit our country in 1945. It is not necessary." on the Chicago Nuclear Injury Action Group website)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Twitter Community for Activism: What Do We Understand?

The power of Twitter
If you are like me, you breathe a little sigh of relief every time you see some big New Media guru admit that no one really understands how Twitter works.

I spend a lot of time on Twitter, but there's still a lot about it that's mysterious to me.

So why do I use it? Because one thing that is clear to me is that the way community forms on Twitter bears the closest resemblance to the characteristics of community formation that we, as activists, need to work with from now on.

What I see on Twitter is: high autonomy (with low affiliation), personality, reciprocity, spreadability, and habit/practice.

Herewith some amplification on those characteristics, and some questions.


High autonomy (with low affiliation)

Well ... er ... some Twitter accounts are
even more "autonomous" than most. :-)
(Shown: @OpPinkPower)
The most significant characteristic of Twitter communities, I believe, is that they are made up of highly autonomous individuals. In other words, people are (in general) not readily recognizable as affiliated with the community(s) with which they meaningfully participate.

At first, this may seem untrue. "But what about the many people who identify themselves as belonging to a group, or supporting a cause?"

I believe that, while there are a very small number of clearly-affiliated activists on Twitter engaging in highly influential activity, there is a group of people that is larger by a factor of 100 who are also influential (or potentially influential) Twitter activists who are not clearly affiliated. Our job is to connect with them and encourage them!

This is supported by years of activity on Twitter, and countless examples of being led astray by the affiliation that I thought was important to people, only to realize that their stated affiliation was not reflected in their actual Twitter activity . . .

 . . . and, conversely, examples of people whose activity made them important activists, despite their lack of explicit affiliation.

This probably holds very good lessons for us about how the real world works, as well!


Personality

@HiginiaRoig on Twitter:
"Jo també reclamo l'abolició de les armes nuclears."
["I also demand the abolition of nuclear weapons."]

(More at #HiroshimaNagasaki70 - What I Learned on Twitter.)
People like to express themselves and receive attention.

These are the factors that drive Twitter.

(Note that this is slightly different than saying, "People like to engage in conversations and/or debate with other people.")

Never underestimate the power of the ego's need for attention!

I think this is confirmed by the way in which common ideas are expressed over and over again, each time in original ways -- and sometimes hitting the jackpot of mass sharing.

What that means for my own work is that I hold the hope that some kind of organic process(es) happening in social media will build towards a critical mass for peace.

Now it's just a matter of understanding those processes, and encouraging them.


Reciprocity

V @WeManifestPeace
(Can you spot the signs of reciprocity?)
Closely related to the characteristic of high autonomy (and of personality) is the fact that social media is ruled by reciprocity:

people support each other

I think many people may be misled by the fact that there are a tiny fraction of Twitter accounts with massive numbers of followers, and those accounts succeed at being unidirectional. (They put out a tweet, and a bizillion people spread it; but they don't do the same for their followers.)

In fact, I think the much more significant activity on Twitter is that which happens between people who support each other in a reciprocal fashion: "You pay attention to and retweet my stuff; I'll do the same for you."

Now, one way of looking at it is to say, "Well, that's not very idealistic!"

But isn't the real question: how do things really work? And if reciprocity rules on Twitter, shouldn't we get with the program?


Spreadability

Read about the work we're doing to make An Alternative
Global Security System
really, really spreadable.
Ultimately, our success or failure will come down to the question of whether we availed ourselves of the power of social media to spread our message.

The social media counterpart to "If a tree falls in the forest . . . " is "Think FIRST about spreadability, and only THEN about the actual content of the message."

The most productive thing any activist could do today is to carve out an hour, open up their laptop, and look at Twitter, Facebook, or some other social media app and ask him/herself "What makes certain messages get spread over and over and over?" (Notice in particular the ones that get spread even though they don't have to do with sex or celebrity or sports!)


Habit/practice

Tuesdays are #NOnukes days on Twitter: #NoNukesTuesday
People tend to think of Twitter and other social media as apps that people use randomly and ad hoc -- in other words, without much thought, whenever they have a moment.

However, I've noticed that some people use their Twitter accounts in consistent ways: it is clear that these people are thinking about how to be most effective on Twitter, are developing practices to do on a regular basis, and are gaining the advantage of habit.

I believe we will be most successful when we take seriously the work that so many activists are doing with their Twitter accounts!


Some questions

All of the above leaves me with several burning questions:

(1) Can we build mass action if people don't affiliate -- at least not in the traditional sense of affiliation?

(2) How can we better observe and learn and how people use social media -- so that we have real knowledge to apply to the work of activism?

(3) Most important of all: how can we make what we do recursive -- i.e. not just invite more people into activism, but also invite them to actually become "inviters" (and "inviters of inviters") themselves?

If you care as much about using social media for activism as I do, please get online and help me answer these questions!


TAKE ACTION

Set up a Twitter account today
and follow @scarry.


Related posts

I've realized that when we ask ourselves, "What is it that we hope people will do?" we must include an element of recursivity: One of the things we want people to do is to involve more people in doing it. In a way, that element of recursivity -- dare I say "evangelism"? -- defines what it means for people to really become part of a movement.

(See Invite More People into Activism! (Pass It Along!) )












2015 is the year of nuclear disarmament. It seems like a good time to use social media to get EVERYONE on board!

(See 5 Ways YOU Can Make a Difference on #NoNukesTuesday )













I've started to organize some of the practices I've discovered, starting with the ten "guideposts" below. I'll expand on these from time to time, and hope to spur continued conversation with all of you!

(See Twitter: Scarry's Ten Guideposts )












There is an eerie similarity between events in the book Paul Revere's Ride and events in our world today. I'm thinking particularly of how a network of mass resistance springs into action.

(See American Rebellion: Just Think What They Would've Done with Twitter!)


Monday, August 17, 2015

A Modest Proposal: Replace Chicago Air and Water Show with S.O. Levinson Peace Festival


Chicago: birthplace of an idea
OUTLAWING WAR!


Every year they hold a war show on the Chicago lakefront . . .  and every year we protest.

How about if we all put our energy into something we can agree on?

And what if it could be something that is a GENUINE Chicago tradition?


Military hardware displays: who needs 'em?

"Welcome to the Chicago Air War Show"
Members of Chicago World Can't Wait engage in a little
friendly agitation at the 2015 Chicago Air and Water Show.
When I see the Chicago Air and Water Show, I can't help thinking, "This is just a big advertisement for war."

You may also have thought the same thing.

(Just don't say it out loud!)

One friend put it best:

It's funny how offended people get when you mention the Air and Water Show glorifying war and military toys while wasting millions of dollars. (happy I am no 'typical american').

Which is why, as long as there is a Chicago Air and Water Show, there will be more and more antiwar protests there!

See also:

I { love | hate } the Chicago Air and Water Show
Taking the NO DRONES! Message to the Masses at Chicago's Air and Water Show
August 16-17: Protest U.S. Kidnapping, Torture, and Drone Assassinations at the 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show Protest 

 
NIH: Not invented here

Oak Street Beach: Chicago
Blue Angels fighter jet team: not Chicago
One of the profoundest ironies of the Chicago Air and Water Show is that it pretends to be "Chicago-ish" by taking place on our beautiful lakefront -- that's the "Water" part -- but in fact it has nothing to do with Lake Michigan and everything to do with military air power.

Chicago has nothing to do with the military and military air power . . .

. . . UNLESS, of course, you count the fact that the Boeing Corporation recently moved its corporate headquarters here. (In which case, you may be tempted to ask, "Why do they get to drag us into their dirty business?")

Hmmm . . . Boeing Corporation . . . sponsor of the Chicago Air and Water Show . . . I think I see a pattern here . . . .

See:

Boeing Has an Israel Problem . . . and Chicago Has a Boeing Problem
No Drones Illinois Endorses Call to Drop Boeing from Chicago Air and Water Show


A real Chicago tradition: PEACE!

S.O. (Salmon Oliver) Levinson
David Swanson has done a great service by pointing out that it was a Chicago lawyer, S.O. (Salmon Oliver) Levinson, that came up with the idea of outlawing war.  Levinson's inspiration laid the foundation for the Kellogg-Briand pact. (See "Chicago’s unknown hero of peace" on the World Beyond War website.)

Many people don't know that the US -- together with 61 other countries -- long ago signed onto the treaty that makes it illegal to wage war. Congress ratified the treaty, and it is the law of the land.

You can learn more about the Kellogg-Briand pact and Levinson's contribution when David Swanson comes to the Chicago area on August 27 -- see Fundraising Luncheon commemorating Kellogg-Briand Pact.


Chicago has always been plagued by "second city syndrome." You know: "Saturday Night Live is 'live - from New York!' but actually it all started here!!!" and "Everybody talks about the Empire State Building but the skyscraper was really invented here!!!" and  . . .  (etc. etc. etc.)

A S.O. Levinson Peace Festival would be an opportunity for Chicago to focus on something at which it is "first."

Air shows are a dime a dozen.

Military recruiting: who needs it?

Chicagoans are tired of screaming jets on summer afternoons . . . .

But a peace festival! That would be unique! That would be something to be proud of!


TAKE ACTION


Tell organizations you are part of
that you want them to become
a founding sponsor of the
S.O. Levinson Peace Festival

(to replace the Air and Water Show!)


Related posts



There's been a lot of talk in recent weeks and months about the problem of gun trafficking in Illinois, and how we will never meet our goal of stopping the violence in our communities if we can't stop the flow of guns. Maybe it's time for us to eat our own dog food . . . .

(See What If Illinois Became a "War-Profiteer-Free Zone" ? )







What if we had a massive region in the heart of the country pushing back against the war-crazed conventional wisdom of "more weapons," "more consumption," and "more destruction of the environment"?

(See Another Modest Proposal: A Green, Demilitarized Midwest! )







I never quite understood how much of a Chicago story the Bomb and opposition to it really is. I can think of at least three reasons why people right here in Chicago -- today -- need to make themselves heard about nuclear disarmament . . .

(See Unfinished Business in Chicago (Nuclear disarmament, that is))

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chenoweth on Why Nonviolence Gets Results (The "Cliff's Notes" Version)

Prof. Erica Chenoweth
Last week, I watched hours of coverage of the Campaign Nonviolence conference taking place in Los Alamos, NM.

I particularly liked the presentation given by Prof. Erica Chenoweth at that conference.  I found it so compelling, I tweeted the key points, just as fast as I could type.  You can watch the Chenoweth presentation here, or just read my notes below!


Basic findings

* Want to know which works better - #nonviolence or #violence? COUNT! (Retweet this.)

* Using the strictest measures - the #nonviolence approach still tallies more successes! (Retweet this.)

* "I was blown away" - the #nonviolence approach more successful by 2:1 margin! (Retweet this.)

* #Nonviolence #resistance works. (Even if YOU don't believe it!) (Retweet this.)


How nonviolence works

* #INCLUSION - #nonviolence campaigns work - 'cause they get more PEOPLE involved! (Retweet this.)

* in face of state #violence, #nonviolence #resistance actually gets MORE people involved (Retweet this.)

* (Put another way: #nonviolence is the way to get beyond "just males" protest) (Retweet this.)

* "looks like a party" ... "safety in numbers" ... [ ..... reach the tipping point!] (Retweet this.)

* fewer barriers to entry ... possibility of exit ... means MANY more participate (Retweet this.)

* Don't discount #moral factor: average person doesn't want to injure ( even in #army!) (Retweet this.)


BIG campaigns

* Q: What's the big deal about BIG campaigns? (Retweet this.)

* The bigger the campaign, the more it erodes "pillars of support" for power holders (Retweet this.)

* Big participation means you get inside heads of "instruments of repression" (#police) (Retweet this.)

* "Backfire" - even IF there's #violent repression, tends to ENCOURAGE more mass action! (Retweet this.)

* TWO big tools of #nonviolence #resistance: "concentration" AND "dispersion" (Retweet this.)


An example: IRAN

* Lessons of 100 days #revolution in #Iran - one of largest of all times (Retweet this.)

* Last 10 days of 100 days #revolution in #Iran - general strike, esp. #oil workers (Retweet this.)

* By end of 100 days #revolution in #Iran - even #POLICE were calling in sick (Retweet this.)

* #nonviolence campaigns TEN TIMES more likely to result in #democracy (measured at 5 yrs (Retweet this.)


Overcoming old myths

* all this contradicts MYTH: #nonviolence #resistance ineffective vs repressive opponents (Retweet this.)

* this ALSO contradicts MYTH: #nonviolence #resistance can't arise in closed society (Retweet this.)

* key MYTH to overcome: "little bit of #violence" helpful to (main) #nonviolence effort (Retweet this.)

* "little bit of #violence" PROBLEM #1: more generalized violence leads to lower participation (Retweet this.)

* if you're interested in #radical #change - look at the hard facts on what's worked w-w (Retweet this.)


Research challenges

* Research challenge #1: how can #minority movements draw in #majority? (Retweet this.)

* Research challenge #2: (indirect) #solidarity and #support: is it really contributing? (Retweet this.)

* Research challenge #3: what #leadership structure REALLY works? (Retweet this.)

* Research challenge #4: civil resistance in #war zones - e.g. #Iraq #Syria #Afghanistan (Retweet this.)


Taking this information to the wider world

* Big surprise: how ANGRY people get about #nonviolence! (vs. #violence) (Retweet this.)

* We're talking #paradigm shift! (Like Thomas Kuhn on #revolution in #science!) (Retweet this.)

* (PS - people's response to #Galileo was: KILL HIM!) (Retweet this.)

* "We must unlearn what we have learned." (Yoda) (Retweet this.)

* Maybe it's a problem of learning styles? (video vs text?) (Retweet this.)

* Teachers: ask for re-evaluation of #textbooks (eg #USA #history) (Retweet this.)

* #USA #history: learn about MASS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE underpinning #American #Revolution (Retweet this.)


RECAP: 4 attributes observed in successful #nonviolence resistance movement

* "Mass and diverse participation" (Retweet this.)

* "new techniques for #resistance" (Retweet this.)

* "obtain the defections of the elites" (Retweet this.)

* "maintain discipline in the face of repression" (Retweet this.)


FOR MORE: watch the full Chenoweth presentation here.


Related posts

This tweet seems perfectly timed because of what is about to happen in a few weeks in Chicago.

(See Nonviolent Direct Action to Stop Police Crimes: Effective? )









Anyone who has had to write a speech knows that the hardest part is to land on the main idea. Once you've got that right, the rest practically writes itself.

(See "The way to respond to ISIS is not through violence." )





Think about it:
Aircraft carriers and Tomahawk missiles.
Drums.
Where's the real violence?


(See War, War Protests, and "Technology" )

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Nonviolent Direct Action to Stop Police Crimes: Effective?

As I write this, 486 people have retweeted the following message:


@BlakeDontCrack on Twitter:
Non-violent civil disobedience has never been non-violent for Black People.


It seems perfectly timed because of what is about to happen in a few weeks in Chicago.


Is non-violence just a dream?

Freedom Riders Bus Burned near Anniston, Alabama, 1961
(See blackpast.org)
The message immediately reminded me of a question raised in Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates:  "Why were only our heroes nonviolent?" It's part of a longer passage:

Every February my classmates and I were herded into assemblies for a ritual review of the Civil Rights Movement. Our teachers urged us toward the example of freedom marchers, Freedom Riders, and Freedom Summers, and it seemed that the month could not pass without a series of films dedicated to the glories of being beaten on camera. The black people in these films seemed to love the worst things in life -- love the dogs that rent their children apart, the tear gas that clawed at their lungs, the firehoses that tore off their clothes and tumbled them into the streets.  They seemed to love the men who raped them, the women who cursed them, love the children who spat on them, the terrorists that bombed them. Why are they showing this to us? Why were only our heroes nonviolent?  . . . " (Between the World and Me, p. 31-2)

Ever since I have become involved in activism, this is a dilemma I have seen over and over again. People reject individual violence, but tolerate massive doses of state violence. (See War, War Protests, and "Technology" )

It is a dilemma that is central to Coates' book, and to his contention that US society will never be able to ease its way out of institutionalized racism (as adherents of "the Dream" hope).

It seems closely related to the question raised by Charles Blow (and retweeted over 3000 times):


@CharlesMBlow on Twitter:
Why did that reporter just ask #SamDubose's mother if she could forgive
the officer?! Why r we, but no one else, called 1st to forgiveness?!


What is the point of nonviolence, anyway?

Woolworth lunch counter sit-in in Jackson, Mississippi.
(See awesomestories.com)
Last week, I watched hours of coverage of the Campaign Nonviolence conference taking place in Los Alamos, NM.  The keynote speaker was someone who knows something about those Freedom Summer protests: Rev. James Lawson.

I particularly liked the presentation given by Prof. Erica Chenoweth at that conference.  I found it so compelling, I tweeted the key points, just as fast as I could type.  (You can watch the video of the full Chenoweth presentation or read a summary here.) The big idea that I got from Prof. Chenoweth's presentation: mass participation is what's needed to bring about change, and nonviolent tactics are proven to be more successful at bringing about mass participation (and making it effective).

Inherent in the Chenoweth presentation, is a big question: where does the mental toughness -- some people would call it "grounding" -- come from that enables people to continue following the more effective nonviolent course, particularly when confronted by a state that just keeps committing acts of violence?


Stopping state violence in Chicago

A 17-year-old civil rights demonstrator being
attacked by a police dog during protests.
(See NY Daily News.)
On August 29, a coalition of groups in Chicago will march for community control of the Chicago police.

Thousands are expected to march.

It is a significant example of the use of nonviolent protest to bring about an end to state violence.

I think everyone -- and particularly anyone who lays claim to being a political leader -- should be asking themselves the question, "How many hoops of nonviolent protest do people need to jump through before it's enough?" Put another way, "Just how much longer do you expect people to keep their righteous anger in check?"


TAKE ACTION


Participate in, promote, support


Related posts


We can't imagine that anti-racism work is just about specific police officers or even specific departments. Entire institutions of racist law enforcement need to be brought to heel in real time. It's a task worthy of a society-wide, national, federal effort. And it's top priority. No leader can ignore this reality . . . .

(See "If elected . . . ." (The Election 2016 and #BlackLivesMatter Nexus) )









It's time for Chicago's Progressive Caucus as a whole -- and all its members individually -- to come out strongly in favor of a democratically-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) for Chicago.

(See A Modest Proposal for Chicago's Progressive Caucus: Support CPAC )











#BlackLivesMatter: When all is said and done, how many career politicians in Chicago will have crashed and burned along the way because they couldn't or wouldn't step up and lead on this issue?

(See #PeopleOverPolice: Is This What Democracy Looks Like? )







I wonder if the outrage that many Muslims seem to feel at the suffering of other Muslims doesn't put us Christians to shame.

(See Fighting Back: It's alright as long as you're a Christian, right? )