A lot of people are judgmental of protesters breaking windows, burning books, etc. They call this violent behavior.
Now, by no means do I support or condone the destruction or theft of property. I do not condone the burning of books at all. Well, except the Mueller report. Even in that case, it should be preserved as evidence of criminal behavior by our intelligence agencies.
Spray painting graffiti on buildings and statues is unsightly. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? However, that’s not violence. It’s an inconvenience. Paint can be washed off by one means or another.
Stopping traffic is an inconvenience. Most protests have cleared ways for emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances to pass. So claiming it places lives at stake is not accurate or truthful in most cases. No, it’s doubtful they will clear a path for police vehicles, especially when it is police conduct being protested against. None of this is violent.
I deeply oppose the presentation of protesters as being violent unless they act in some way that harms human beings. Which is exceedingly rare for leftist protesters. It has been shown clearly that when violence erupts, it was initiated by the authorities or right wing infiltrators, attempting to make the protesters look bad. The same is true of looting.
The biggest problem is what leads to this violence or even large scale peaceful protests. At this point it has taken decades of attempts through peaceful legal means of solving problems, only to have the problems remain or get worse over time.
It is violence visited upon the members of our society which lead to such revolts against authority, against the status quo.
Here is a small example of things which I consider to be actual violence:
The destruction of human lives, individuals, families, homes, neighborhoods, entire communities, all brought about by the war on drugs. How many children have been caught in the crossfire or lost parents to death, permanent injury or incarceration for non-violent possession? What is that child’s outlook on authority from that day forward? Some will claim the person was doing what they should not have been doing or been where they should not have been. That’s not always true. Even if it were, do we condemn disabled veterans for being wounded in a country where we have no business?
This destruction based on chemical dependence, a recognized illness which is treatable, is violence. It is completely unwarranted violence, mostly inflicted upon people of color.
I find it violent when lives and communities are destroyed by capitalism. Once thriving neighborhoods or entire towns driven into poverty and abandonment because of changes wrought by corporate interests. Closing of plants so that jobs can be exported to other countries, etc.
I find it violent when children go to bed hungry, wake up and go to school hungry, suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, developmentally and academically.
I find it violent when minority citizens are forced to walk past memorials or symbols to the historic characters and systems which once oppressed them or their ancestors, a constant reminder that such oppression and social division is still very much present, just hidden under the surface. No, I do not find it violent when these memorials are struck down and destroyed. No human being is injured in the process.
I find it violent when people fear for their very lives when they see police lights in the rearview mirror, not sure they will survive the encounter with authorities tasked with protecting them from threats. Too often those authorities pose the greatest threat to freedom, livelihood, health and life one can imagine.
I find it violent when people are thrown out on the streets due to lack of income brought about by an unfair system that left them unable to sustain a basic residence.
I find it violent when people are unable to afford life-maintaining medications because they cannot afford them.
I find it violent when poor or elderly people resort to eating dog food to survive.
I find it violent for a fully qualified and experienced person is denied a job or promotion based on their color, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
I find it violent when people are forced to work multiple jobs in the effort to earn enough for a basic existence, subjecting their bodies and minds to stresses which damage and age them prematurely, with no real advances to show for it.
I find it violent when citizens of this country are allowed to suffer illness, injury and death without medical care or go bankrupt, sometimes even if they have insurance, paying for needed care.
I find it violent when the taxes we pay are ripped from public coffers, handed in massive sums to corporations which use the money to inflate the wealth of executives and rich stockholders while our society declines, our citizens do without things considered basic needs by other societies.
I find it violent when the voices of the people are ignored by elected officials and the media, who then force oligarchy-friendly agendas onto us.
I find it violent when those of us who fight for systemic reform have our words and voices distorted, censored and silenced, our names and reputations slandered.
I find it violent when our country invades or destroys another country, displacing and killing the citizens for the sake of corporate profits and government imperialism.
I find it violent when the people of this country are subjected to intentionally deceitful propaganda, intended to sow division, fear and hatred.
Unless you have experienced the effects of these examples first hand, you may disagree with my judgment of them as violence. I assure you, while not all have the same effect as physical assault, they are all definitely violent. They are forms of abuse which traumatize the mind and the soul of those who have been subjected to them. They leave lasting impacts which are difficult at best to overcome.
The reason we accept these conditions is because we are told, taught, “educated”, propagandized, indoctrinated, “informed” that these things are normal and should be considered normal. Nothing about this is normal or acceptable.
The absolute first step in changing our system is changing ourselves. Each of us has a small voice inside which tells us when our words and actions are harmful and outright wrong. We have to listen to that voice. Shut out the platitudes of the system of greed and hate forced on us daily. Question the narrative, demand what we know is right and fair.