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A History of Violence, Part I

Brett Davis

Posted on June 2, 2020 19:51

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Historically speaking, there is nothing new about the looting and rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. But does such pillaging and plundering work? Yes and no.

The aphorism that "violence never solves anything" is at best imprecise, and at worst an absolutist notion that seems quaint in light of the cherished right to use deadly force in defense of life and limb and the fact this nation has waged wars that have vanquished real expansionist evil in the world. When it comes to an injustice such as the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground, the question has to be asked: Is the resulting burning of major cities across America in response to Floyd’s death justified?

One school of thought emphatically says yes, calling the looting, rioting, vandalism and total destruction of property necessary because change doesn’t come from words alone. Every right ever achieved in America, these people say, was born in blood, often citing Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous dictum that “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

They point to, among other examples, an event that helped lead to the founding of America – the Boston Tea Party – and the Stonewall riots that produced the gay liberation movement, as precedents of property destruction and violence achieving noble ends. Such tactics are warranted, they say, in going up against a powerful, heavily armed government.

It is true that what later came to be known as the Boston Tea Party – a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians boarding three British tea ships and dumping 342 chests of tea into the harbor – was a blatant act of property destruction. The midnight raid that destroyed some $1.7 million (in today’s money) worth of tea was in response to British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, designed to save the faltering East India Company by substantially lowering its tea tax and granting a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade.

The British government’s punitive response to the Boston Tea Party in the form of the Coercive Acts (known as the Intolerable Acts in America) served to unite the colonies and impel the drift toward war with the mother country that ultimately culminated in an independent United States of America.

Also true: The Stonewall riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement not just in the United States, but around the world. The uprising was sparked in the early hours of June 28, 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village in New York City, roughly hauling out employees and patrons. That led to six days of spontaneous protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park.

Violence, it appears, solved these problems. A closer look, however, reveals a complex situation hinting that brutality and bloodshed are not as effective as proponents think.

Brett Davis

Posted on June 2, 2020 19:51

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Source: Forbes

The non-profit helps post bail for protesters who have been arrested during the Minneapolis riots.

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