In the current Middle East conflict I am sent back to the Civil Rights Era and learning more about non-violent protests, MLK, Gandhi, and more.
The more I study protest, conflict, and forging of new paths the more I am struck by the amount of violence used. It is mainly used by those in power to try and beat back perceived opposition. In a recent documentary I watched, Andrew Young was interviewed and was careful to note that when the movement led by MLK was met with violence, it was tempting to turn to violence. It was a radical commitment to nonviolence that cost them dearly.
I am left with the question: did it work?
We got the civil rights legislation to finally enforce the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, but in the process lost JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK. Then… more violent oppression as groups like the Black Panthers were labeled “terrorist” organizations and targeted by U.S. law enforcement.
Did it work?
I think of that question in light of this article giving a bit more detail into the current Middle East conflict.
And this haunting conclusion:
The tragedy, upon other tragedies, is that the world seems to pay attention to Palestinians only when they use violence. Nonviolent activism goes largely ignored.
This is an incredibly haunting thought. Looking back on MLK, it was so easy for so many whites in the past year to put up a pic of MLK in a sharp looking suit and declare in a meme: “THIS is how you protest” while ignoring the beating Dr. King took and the many times he was thrown in jail, and harassed by the FBI, and discredited by the government. And then, of course, cut down in his prime.
Does nonviolent action work?
I don’t have any answers. This question simply haunts me.