Martin Luther King, Jr. is not with us anymore, but he is all around us in the way we think and feel about each other and about what makes a good leader, the rights we enjoy, and even in the way we choose to march. Dr. King was known for nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. He wrote books on the subject, and his lessons serve us well today:
“Nonviolence is the way of the strong man. It is not a method of stagnant passivity. True pacifism is a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love.” ~ from Stride Toward Freedom, chapter VI, “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ve spent some time reading about Dr. King and hearing what other people had to say about the man and his work. This post came about when I learned of the ways that the nazis and white supremacists are going about following 45’s instructions; the information immediately brought to my mind the training people received for the lunch counter protest. The contrast between Dr. King’s and Donald Trump’s leadership (using the term “leadership” loosely in Trump’s case) is stark.
Starting with Trump’s rallies, the (then) future president called for violence and told his followers that he’ll cover their legal costs. He tells his followers to harm people who don’t agree with him, and he tells our police to use excessive force with suspects. Our own president has thrown in with the terrorists and even, as leader of the executive branch, suggests that police don’t need to honor people’s rights.
A particular group of Americans started to follow his instructions pretty much immediately during the election, and it’s resulted in violent incidents all over the country. Trump and the GOP’s platform and permission has also lead to a surge of hate in the form of Nazi and white supremacist rallies. Personally, it helps me to see the terrorists. I am glad they aren’t hiding behind sheets; they aren’t hiding their plans or their angry, white faces. They are out in the open, in public and on the internet so there is no question about their activities or who they intend to harm. They publish their intentions and their propaganda so that anyone can see it.
There is a reason that Trump likes to go on and on about paid protesters; it’s because he pays to have “supporters”: announcing his candidacy and trip to Warsaw, Poland, for example, just like the communists of the old days. Perhaps this is part of why he exaggerates the size of the crowds? because he’s paying for them to be big?
As we stand up to the hate, we need to be aware that his followers plant people in crowds (see Posobiec in the tweet above) to try to provoke attacks or get people to say things they don’t really mean or that could be taken out of context.
Violence is being perpetrated by Americans who seek to oppress their neighbors. They commit violence against the would-be oppressed. There is no doubt anywhere in the world that this sort of attitude is wrong (it is a universal truth that nazis are bad, after all), but being right is not as important in this stance as being safe. Our message will get out. Do not fight these people, and be careful as you attempt to reason with them as they are mostly immune to reason, to logic. They were sent to spread hate and fear, to incite violence, to goad otherwise peaceful people into fighting; that is their purpose, their goal. These terrorists seek to make those who stand up for equality and for love look weak and dangerous. Don’t make it easy for them. Respond to taunts and jeers (throwing things, getting in your face, etc.) with calm, with love.
“When they go low, we go high.” ~ Michelle Obama
(Photo above by Marc Riboud: Washington, DC. 1967. A young American girl, Jan Rose Kasmir, confronts the American National Guard outside the Pentagon during the 1967 anti-Vietnam march. This march helped to turn public opinion against the US war in Vietnam.)
Please, please think before you say or chant anything. Do not touch anyone especially in any way that could look/be threatening. Keep your language and your demeanor as non-threatening as possible while you stand up for love and for those who cannot defend themselves from this violence. Prepare by practicing calming techniques when your kids or your parents (or customers) are driving you nuts. Gather with other resisters to talk, to vent, to take out your frustrations with nerf toys, to hug. Take care of yourself so that you can calmly and rationally face those who look away from love.
There will be more rallies. The nazi rally this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA, which resulted in a murder and numerous assaults leading to serious injuries of peaceful protesters, got the okay (via turned head) from the president and much of the GOP. It was a success; there will be many more starting with Boston this coming weekend.
Non violent protest will prevail again; we will defeat the hate once and for all so this country can move forward again. In the 1960s, King’s style of non violent protest won Americans’ hearts and minds. I am not the person to teach his lessons safely and effectively, but use this post as a motivation to find the information you need. Seek out the lessons; arm yourself with knowledge and with calm. Seek out the methods for keeping yourself and others safe while still getting the message of tolerance and love across.
Do not give in to terrorism. Only love can get us out of this one.
“Our separate struggles are really one. A struggle for freedom, for dignity, and for humanity.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Putting this out there, so be gentle: I was excited about the idea for the meme below, and I spent hours making my vision into a reality today (my old copy of PSP isn’t . . . healthy). The image is not exactly what I imagined due to my limited abilities/training, but I’m quite proud of my work. Feel free to share it, but please keep my url on it (basically, don’t edit it) as credit and include the link to this post when you share. I hope you love it like I do.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. This quote is credited to Dr. King, but I am unable to find when/where he said it. If you know, please contact me to share? (Twitter) @GrayMattersTwit or (Facebook) GrayMattersUS
Link: US Civil Rights Movement Benefits From Non-Violent Strategy, video from Voice of America, four minutes long
Link: The King Center
Link: “Martin Luther King’s nonviolent civil rights efforts still inspire across globe” – by Emily Wax (article from 2011) at The Washington Post
Link: Life After Hate was to receive a grant of $400,000 from the Department of Homeland Security to continue their work, but in June, the Trump administration went back on the gift. This group is doing valuable work; they could use our support.
Link: “Leader of neo-Nazi group linked to Charlottesville attack was a US marine” – by Jon Swaine and Lois Beckett at The Guardian
Link: “Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?” – by Robin Wright at The New Yorker
Link: “Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]” – African Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania
The featured photo at the top of this post is by Jonathan Bachman. It was taken of Iesha Evans in Baton Rouge, LA in July of 2016. Let Ms Evan’s poise, her confidence and her calm inspire you.
TL;DR: do not give in to hate or fear, participate in terrorism. Go high. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right; we need love. Only love can get us out of this one.