Today, I'm thinking about moral equivalences and the idiocy of equating violent push back against oppression with the violence of oppression itself.
Over the last couple of days since Charlottesville, I've been in a couple of discussions in which the wholesale intellectual dishonesty of the moral equivalence argument has been laid bare. The argument pretty much has been going like this, "All violence is bad." Period. The end.
All violence is bad? And yet, many of these same moral equivalencers have managed to equivocate when calling out the young man who drove his car directly into a crowd of counter protesters. These same types likewise managed to equivocate about Brock Turner's rape and they routinely manage to equivocate about every police officer who murders a POC. Whether that POC is nine or ninety, there's a reasonable explanation and a suitable justification. All violence is clearly not bad. Apparently, "All violence is bad" but some exclusions apply apparently. The all in "All violence is bad" has the same meaning in the all in All Lives Matter. Got it!
All violence is bad, and yet the United States' history of making war for all manner of reason doesn't meet the standard of universal badness because "USA! USA! USA!". Violence in support of loud and unthinking patriotism is just fine. It's some other kinds of violence that are a problem,
All violence is bad and yet the truck (in Paris) and the car (in London) attacks are roundly and universally reviled by so-called 'conservatives' but the deliberate murder of a protester in Virginia, that can be explained away by "There's been violence on many sides"? Meanwhile there are six - Republican naturally - busy bringing laws to the books that make just that kind of attack perfectly acceptable behavior because God forbid people express views y'all ain't like! Don't like a protest? Just mow 'em the hell down!
All violence is bad and yet we've woven an entire national mythology around war. The national anthem glorifies bombing and Brian Williams famously had some kind of on air 'bomb-gasm' over 45's bombing of Syria. But when someone punches a damn Nazi, y'all got issues, because violence is bad?
All violence is bad but the American soldiers who 'won' World War II are 'The Greatest Generation'? Never mind a goodly portion of them were probably referring to their brother soldiers by every name other than the ones their mamas gave them. All physical violence is bad except, yuh know, for the kind of violence that's great. Psychic violence, on the other hand, is never bad.
The reality is that the only bad violence is violence that pushes back against oppression. The reality is that the only violence that offends some of y'alls sensibilities is the violence that shoves your nation's indecencies and hypocrises into plain sight.
Y'all are fine with violence. Y'all are fine with brutality, as long as it lines up with your political perspective, and as long as the brutalized look like me or are fighting for me. Once violence doesn't follow these rules, it's bad violence. Suddenly, you get all, "Tsk, tsk, tsk! Turn the other cheek! Martin Luther King was all about non-violence!" Hear me well: (1.) I am fresh out of f--king cheeks to turn. And (2.) MLK's non-violence got him violently killed, so shut yuh pie hole with that s--t.
Your ancestors have been stealing, beating, raping, maiming and killing for nearly 500 years. Y'all ain't got no problems with that violence because it has brought you every benefit you now call your own. Oh and it's ancient history.....cuz yesterday is ancient to you. Hell, 8 o'clock this morning is ancient history for some of y'all.
Now that POC are standing up (or kneeling down as the case nay be) and demanding equal treatment; now that ain't nobody got time to turn yet another cheek, y'all wanna morality police? Laughable. May I suggest that you fix the plank in your own eye before you come to get the speck outta mine?
Y'all running a morality deficit so deep ten lifetimes ain't enough to fix the karmic load y'all are carrying. That is why you feel compelled to police the morality of my response. That is why you need to claim an equivalence in the immorality of our violences. You need there to be balance between your visceral generations of odiousness and my generations late righteous responsorial rage. Go on. Play that game. Ima just call bullshit on that right here, right now.
In We Ugly As Hell I used the phrase 'immoral equivalence' rather than the more common 'moral equivalence' because it seems more accurate. When folk use the phrase 'moral equivalence' they are contending that all violence is immoral and its use anywhere and everywhere is equivalently morally reprehensible. I hear that and I rebuke that with the same fervor I save for rebuking kale chips.
Righteous anger leads to righteous violence. Had the people of Charleston, SC reacted violently to the work of mass murderer Dylan Roof, would that have been immoral? Had the enslaved massacred far more of their enslavers, would that have been immoral? Had Sally Hemmings savaged Thomas Jefferson would that have been immoral? Had the Natives dealt more brutally with those driving them on the Trail of Tears, would that have been immoral?
While I'll agree that violence is not, in itself, the best way to resolve any difference of opinion, you best believe, if our difference of opinion - d. o.p - is on the value of my life; if our d.o.p is on whether or not I should been seen as human and worthy or valuable; if our d.o.p is on whether or not my brother, my sister, or I should be shot dead in the street for breathing while Black any presumption that I'm going to be willing or able to turn yet another cheek is entirely wasted. Save that up for something else. You might need it. I am out of cheeks. I have no plans to get more. My turning days are done.
Pacifism is for use with governments and people who respect ones humanity. Has America yet consistently respected mine?