Turning the Other Cheek is Not a Suicide Pact
Your most recent comment regarding violence in the wake of Trump’s election deserved better than my initial glib response..
First of all, I’m guessing “the violence” you are talking about includes the four African Americans who have been charged with a hate crime for live streaming their kidnapping and abuse of a developmentally disabled white man. Right wing reaction to the crime is predictably hypocritical in the sense that they suddenly set a new threshold for “torture” that is decidedly different from when they are talking about the recipient of the abuse being black or brown; these conservatives also apparently now think that hate crime laws are a good idea. That aside, the attack was perpetrated by people so brutally stupid they broadcast themselves committing it. That they felt pride in humiliating and tormenting a person incapable of defending themselves speaks more shamefully of them than anything that could be written or spoken about them; they deserve the charges being brought against them and to be tried with the evidence weighed cooly in a courtroom. There is no moral question here, but then, unlike conservatives, I make no connection between these four lowlives and people of color in general, any more than I would claim that everyone from Saudi Arabia is a terrorist simply because a majority of the 9/11 attackers, plotters and financing came from there or that because white men are overwhelmingly likely to be the perpetrators of violence in churches I should think that every white man is potentially going to mass murder a Sunday School. The only people that actually want a “Race War” are white and the handful of black people who are as crazy as the four criminally insane ones mentioned above to think they could somehow win a “Race War”.. The population of African-Americans is barely above %10; there is no scenario where they win “Race War”. Trying to connect this crime to Black Lives Matter or otherwise blow it out of proportion is the willful misrepresentation of a fearmonger.
Then of course there is the sucker punching of Richard Spencer, the natty neoNazi everyone’s talking about. Punching Spencer only allows him to play the martyr which is something that conservatives love doing even more than they love accusing liberals of doing it. That’s why he’s standing in public places saying provocative things in front of a camera; he is trying to create a narrative where the barbaric liberals are assaulting the clean cut white guy who is calmly talking into the camera. The Nazis used similar tactics, but the same could be said for a lot of things going on right now. So I am certainly against violence in this case as well. The guy who hit Richard Spencer is Not Helping, and the four psychopaths above certain didn’t do anyone any kind of good.
Violence is wrong, mostly.
Violence is wrong always in a hypothetical sense.
But specifically is where the world happens.
Was Lincoln wrong to use violence to preserve the Union?
Was Roosevelt wrong to pursue war against the Nazis?
Was Truman wrong to drop the atomic bomb?
Is it wrong to use violence to prevent barbaric atrocity?
Would it have been wrong to allow UN forces in Rwanda to use violence in an effort to stop the genocide?
Is it wrong to respond to violence perpetrated by a foreign power upon one’s nation?
Would it have been right to invade Saudi Arabia as opposed to Iraq after 9/11?
Gandhi faced a civilized oppressor in the British Empire that could be shamed by nonviolence into taking just action; how long would Gandhi’s campaign have lasted if the Nazis had been in control of India?
Should we admire the Vichy Government for peacefully collaborating with the Nazis and condemn the French Resistance as a pack of murderous terrorists?
My faith declares that it is the peacemakers who are blessed which is a rather straightforward precept that is easy to comprehend if not easily achieved. But as a general principle it makes sense.
Then there is the admonition to turn the other cheek. This is a more complicated idea that can actually seem insane if taken literally. On the other hand, the One who bade us to do so allowed Himself to be scourged and crucified rather than compromise His essential integrity. So does that mean that we should allow innocents, our loved ones, and ourselves be butchered by barbarians?
Here’s how I interpret turning the other cheek. I will not be provoked into violence but neither do I cower. I present my other cheek to demonstrate that I do not fear violence. I practice Judo. I can take a punch. My principle is to subdue a violent person with the minimal amount of necessary violence. I respond to rage with calm, and I prevail because I am not trying defeat anyone or prove my superiority; my conditions for a “win” is de-escalation. Pacifism is scoffed at by weaklings who puff themselves up with macho bravado and mistake aggression for masculinity; making peace is bloody difficult and sometimes you have to use your hands and get dirty.
White supremacists have infiltrated police departments across the US and the new Attorney General of the US once said he would be ok with the Klan except that some of them smoked weed. The only person the President of the United States has anything nice to say about is Vladimir Putin, a murderous tyrant whom he admires for his strength. His chief advisor is an anti-Semite who believes an existential war with China and Islam are inevitable and that our society needs a trial by fire; he has taken actions that can only be rationally interpreted in the worst possible way.
Turning the other cheek is not a suicide pact.