News & Politics

The Time of Our Visitation?

Righteous violence is the answer, and nonviolence doesn't work. If you believe that, then the ruling elite have got you right where they want you.
Perhaps the most misunderstood and maligned word in English today is "nonviolence." Nonviolence is considered by many Americans to be a nice church piety applicable only to interpersonal relationships with people of a like mind. Whenever "peaceniks" suggest that nonviolence can be successfully applied, not only for schoolyard bullying but even to topple tyrannical regimes, they are ridiculed as "do-nothing" feel-gooders naive enough to think singing Kumbaya at a love-in can protect people from evil.

If that's what nonviolence was truly about it would be worthy of ridicule and rightfully called a refuge for cowards. But when one considers the many political victories that have been won by means of nonviolent methods, such snickering can only be seen as ignorance.

The Dr. King-led civil rights movement in America and the Gandhi-led satyagraha movement in India are the two most famous examples. But there are many others. So-called "realist" hawks dishonestly argue that the reason Dr. King and Gandhi were successful at all is because the oppressors in those cases were actually good Christian people receptive to humane appeals to morality.

In other words, American racism and British colonialism may have been humiliating, but it wasn't absolute evil – as in Muslim extremists.

Yeah? Tell that to the family of Emmett Till, who in 1955 was accused of whistling at a white woman and was subsequently attacked by a mob of "good white Christian folk" who proceeded to murder the boy and disfigure his face so badly his own mother couldn't recognize him. She decided to have an open-casket funeral anyway, hoping to expose the ugly truth of what white American racial hatred did to her 12-year-old son.

What really exposes the lie of those who say nonviolence only works with people who share Judeo-Christian values is the toppling of dictators in Guatemala and Honduras in the 1950s by nonviolent means, as well as the ousting of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Nonviolence is not "doing nothing," nor is it naive. It's based on a fundamental insight into the nature of power, which is if the oppressed and their allies refuse to cooperate with the rulers, the rulers lose their power. The key to government power is obedience and legitimacy. If the people don't see the authorities as legit, their power base evaporates.

Recent shootings in Atlanta and Wisconsin make the point a bit more clear.

However good and intelligent Atlanta courthouse killer Brian Nichols may have been before his murderous spree, he was a savage monster for at least 24 hours. (It should be noted that according to Ashley Smith, the hostage-hero who convinced Nichols to give up, Nichols claimed to be innocent of the rape charges that had him in court. So it is possible that, while there's no justification for his courthouse rampage, the explanation may be that he decided to become the very thing that was being projected onto him. As warped and sick as that kind of thinking is, such behavior, while tragic, isn't totally incomprehensible).

Think about it. All the law enforcement agents and their guns didn't stop this monster. What did? A woman ... Armed with the Word ... Using nonviolent truth to connect with the humanity that resided within Nichols. Do you believe in miracles? A female nonviolent soldier, outside the church, turned a monster back into a human being again.

Meanwhile, a man in Wisconsin who considered himself a follower of "the Prince of Peace" gunned down seven of his fellow parishioners – in church!

Righteous violence is the answer, and nonviolence doesn't work. If you believe that, then the ruling elite have got you right where they want you.

Imagine a highly-disciplined army of Ashley Smiths and the power it could wield!

Or to put it in the words of President Bush's favorite political philosopher:

"If only you had known ... the things which make for peace but are now hid from your eyes! For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will make a trench around you, and surround you on every side... and your children with you; and they will not leave one stone unturned because you knew not the time of your visitation (Luke 19:42-44)."
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff reporter and a syndicated columnist.