Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Defeat of the Violent Flanks

In two of my most recent posts I wrote that protest is not a good method of nonviolent resistance in the age of Trump, because oppressors know how to inject violence into nonviolent protests in order to discredit the protests and legitimize violent crackdowns on protest. But it looks like I’m going to have to eat my words based on the reports I’ve been reading over the last 24 hours concerning the protests over the police murder of George Floyd.

Believe me, I’m quite happy to eat my words just now. Some of the things that are now being reported are wonderful. It now appears that the leaders of the protests have figured out how to separate their protests as far as possible from the violent infiltrators who are coming from the Antifa, the Boogaloo Boys, and other violent white extremist groups. Because the protest leaders and the relatives of those African-Americans recently killed by police violence are insisting that the protests remain peaceful, the protests have gained increased legitimacy among the general public. Because the protest leaders have sought to promote strict nonviolent discipline among the protesters, the protest leaders have been able to get police and National Guard personnel to join with the protesters in showing solidarity with the victims of racist violence, as seen in the many recent media pictures of National Guard troops laying down their shields in support of the protests and police kneeling with the protesters to show their solidarity with the cause of the protests. (See this, this, and this.)  In some cases, police can be seen not only kneeling with the protesters, but holding hands with them and marching with them in solidarity. (See this also.)  And in one case, police who knelt with protesters joined with them in reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

This has made it much harder for Donald Trump to justify sending the U.S. military in to stop the protests. In fact, former President George W. Bush released a statement affirming the right of Americans to protest injustice and calling on Americans to build a society which is just and fair for all. Even televangelist Pat Robertson has spoken against Trump’s call to send in U.S. troops against U.S. citizens. And the U.S. defense secretary has stated that he will refuse any orders by Trump to attack American citizens.  It appears that Trump’s pillars of support are dissolving!

Lastly, it appears that the protest leaders have discovered some of the literature on strategic nonviolent resistance. One of the protest leaders spoke of the triumph of “people power.” The phrase “people power” was used by Filipinos to describe their nonviolent overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos back in the 1980’s. Trump is now starting to look like Marcos, or like Slobodan Milosevic just before OTPOR overthrew him in Serbia's own nonviolent revolution.  The protesters against racism in America have powerfully succeeded in making oppression backfire on the oppressor.

I wonder what Putin’s Russia thinks of all of this, since it is clear that the Russian government has been behind the rise of many far-Right national leaders (including Trump) over the last several years.  It must be hard for him to see that all the work he did to mess up the United States seems now to be going up in smoke. Maybe a people power revolution will come soon to a town near him!

One warning: though there is much good news coming out of the re-emerging movement for racial justice, we can't yet claim victory.  Trump is still President.  Therefore, we must remain vigilant, stay on the offensive, and make ourselves as smart and resourceful as possible.

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