"Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered."
First off, I liked the speech. This post is not about the speech, but this excerpt got me thinking...
**Disclaimer: I am a huge Israel supporter. I believe in a unified Jerusalem under Israeli control; and I despise Hamas. This blog in no way is intended to support the violent actions of any specific group.***
Now, let's talk about violence, starting with the excerpt-
Obama said, "For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding."
This statement is patently false. It was violence, and the threat of it, that gave African Americans their rights.
Step 1: The American Revolution- a violent, bloody war fought to give this nation independence and establish that "all men are created equal."
Step 2: The Civil War- another war, much bloodier too, which provided the opportunity for the emancipation proclamation and 13th amendment (the two of which established the legal fiction of African American equality).
Step 3: The Civil Rights Movement- non-violent? Yes, but.
BUT, it is my firmly held belief that without the presence of men like Malcolm X ("by any means necessary") who were ready and willing to resort to violence if need be, MLK and his compatriots would not have succeeded nearly as quickly.
White people were afraid of the possibility of a violent black uprising- and that was a good thing.
People generally act in their own self interest, at least subconsciously. Sometimes, they need a push; they need to be afraid in order to accept change.
Does non-violent protest work? Yes, sometimes. It works most often in democratic societies with a free press. But even then, it often needs to be helped along by the fear of it's proponents resorting to violence.
In non-democratic societies, non-violent protest most often does not work (e.g. the buddhist monks' protest in Burma/Myanmar).