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SavoirFaire's avatar

The US was founded in the idea that violence is an appropriate response to injustice. Why doesn't that apply to those who are still oppressed?

Asked by SavoirFaire (23855points) November 24th, 2014

The Boston Tea Party involved a massive destruction of private property to protest a government action. The American Revolution involved a massive loss of life to resist the oppression of an uncaring power structure.

The Founders are now considered heroes, but people who even consider far tamer actions today are denounced by nearly everyone. Malcolm X is not nearly as revered as Thomas Jefferson despite Jefferson being far more bloodthirsty than Malcolm ever was.

The same goes for anyone who protests today, including those in Ferguson tonight. The worst insult that can be thrown at them is “rioters.” Break a single window and you can lose the support of a nation, as if the US wasn’t founded by an angry mob.

So tell me, my fellow Americans: how do you justify this seemingly hypocritical behavior?

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26 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

You know the answer to this..

Hint, they are black..

grac3alot's avatar

Since we’re now what the Brits were to the revolutionists, it is only natural for us as a nation to not tolerate anyone who revolts with violence against our system, especially when (assuming majority) feel that there are no legitimate reasons for the violent outbursts. Therefore, because it is mostly the self-proclaimed violent mob who think they’re being oppressed and treated unjustly, they’re seen as a bunch of barbarians by the nation (assumingly).

It is almost as if your expectation of the Brits were for them be tolerant of a violent revolution and you seem to expect that now of Americans as well.

Here2_4's avatar

The difference has a lot to do with the evidence to support the actions of those calling themselves oppressed. I am not claiming a lack of oppression, but combatants must choose their battles carefully if they hope to achieve anything positive.

johnpowell's avatar

Well, burning the whole city to the ground is actually effective. Destroy all sources of tax revenue to effectively defund the police there is a step in the right direction. The Republicans think it is a viable option.

Sure, nobody would have jobs but maybe it is best if people just get out of shithole states. At least Rodney got a trial.

funkdaddy's avatar

Protestors are focused on the groups and individuals they have a problem with. Examples might be blocking the police station or even burning police cars. There’s a connection, it’s not violence for the sake of release.

Rioters break into the store down the street, burn gas stations and cars, and attack people who have no connection to the cause of their anger. They know they can, and take advantage of the situation. It’s unjustified because it affects people who haven’t caused the issue.

I think protestors have most people’s support to some extent.

Pixie's avatar

I do believe that if it is called for sometimes violence is needed. But what it all comes down to is if it is directed at an appropriate target. Now as Rodney King was mentioned I have to say that the violence that took place associated with that was totally misdirected, beating up random white people that had nothing to do with it was wrong. I completely disagree that Malcolm X is less revered then Thomas Jefferson. There is not clothing and hats with Thomas Jefferson on them. In closing there has been a huge spike in police brutality all over this country, and not just against our black citizens either, its been happening to all including whites. You just don’t ever see the stories of police brutality happening to white people on the news and believe me there are plenty of them just look it up. I just hope Americans don’t fall for this race war that the elite/rich are trying to start. If everyone were to just take a look at their perspective towns they will see this is all planned out by the elite. For example when I first moved to the small town I live in, I noticed that there is a Army reserve base here. And in the parking lot there would be at most a Humvee or 2 or occasional container. within this past year or so that parking lot is now filled with Humvee’s and other containers. Obviously they must be planing for something. Why else would this happen and why else would they be militarizing our police everywhere?

Here2_4's avatar

They have to store the stuff brought back from Iraq somewhere.

gorillapaws's avatar

Violence is only appropriate in response to violence. The fact that the founders did so is not justification (appeal to authority, appeal to antiquity).

ragingloli's avatar

Because they have not won yet.
Whether violence was appropriate or not is declared by the victor.

LostInParadise's avatar

We are a democracy. The rallying cry of the Boston Tea Party was, “No taxation without representation.” Ferguson is mostly black, but the elected officials are mostly white. This problem has a simple solution. Vote the bums out. The people of Ferguson have to make a point of running candidates who properly represent them and then voting for them. If there is anything standing in the way of them being able to do so, then that is the most important matter to be addressed.

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise Why are the white politicians the problem? I know white people who are more fervent about racial issues and civil rights issues than some black people are. I do think it is iimportant we all feel represented by our politicians, but I wasn’t thinking that was the problem in this case.

Silence04's avatar

Rioting is a natural response of the angry and unheard. A race that has a long history of oppression continues to be oppressed, while the majority of whites, law enforcement, politicians, and news media outlets are blinded by white privilege and the effects of systemic racism.

Random violent outbursts should be expected In this instance of intense emotion and passion. Once the emotional flareups subside, the violence will too.

Hopefully the fulcrum is sooner and than later. But until then, march on Ferguson!

syz's avatar

I don’t pretend to understand what black Americans deal with every day of their lives, except to say that I see it around me (that’s a hell of a lot different that having to live with it). But much of what I see on tv makes no sense to me.

I don’t understand how destroying infrastructure in your own neighborhood is a good idea – next week when you can’t buy groceries or go to your jobs, who suffers the most harm?

Silence04's avatar

@syz because the infrastructure is apart of the oppression.

josie's avatar

What if your question was written as follows?-

The US was founded in the idea that violence is an appropriate response to tyranny. Why doesn’t that apply to those who are currently suffering under a tyrant

In that case, I would say it still applies all day long.

As it is, an unpopular Grand Jury decision is not proof of injustice and oppression.

Jaxk's avatar

The whole premise for your argument is wrong. Our revolution was not based on mob violence. The Tea Party was directed at the source of the problem, the tax on tea. It was driving the American tea merchants out of business and the tea was the only thing targeted. The ships weren’t burned nor the docks destroyed. What is interesting is that the Boston Massacre was the first confrontation between the colonists and the British soldiers. The first to die was an African-American man named Crispus Attucks. He was a native of Framinghan, Massachusetts. He was martyred by the British.

If you want to use an example of a mob revolution, look to the French Revolution. That was mob rule gone wild. Neither the mobs nor the rest of us want that kind of revolution.

tinyfaery's avatar

No one wants to admit that they do not really know the facts of history and no one wants to admit that they are prejudiced and apply ideas and rules arbitrarily.

ibstubro's avatar

Let me begin by saying that I have been harassed by the St. Louis area police force. I was a middle-aged white male pulled over for crossing more than one lane of traffic on an 8 lane highway, during the middle of the day in a late model car. I entered, and as there was no close traffic in the first 3 lanes, I moved to the 3rd lane. The officer accosted me, saying that the small town I hailed from was a bastion of drug activity and offered a hand print in the dirt on my trunk as proof that I was in town dealing drugs. On, and on, and on. Had I been black and driving a beater in the evening, I suppose I could have ended up dead.

That said, I believe the goal of the American Revolution was to divorce ourselves from Britain so we could establish self governance. That is not an option in Ferguson so violence is not a productive solution. Other areas in the US had demonstrations without the violence, and that was appropriate.

I’m still in the process of reading the grand jury proceedings. So far, they have not convinced me that non-peaceful demonstration was warranted. YES, St. Louis is a heavily segregated city. YES, racial tension there is the highest I’ve ever experienced.. NO, violence is not going to improve that.

Now, I’m back to the grand jury.

Silence04's avatar

@Jaxk
while the boston tea party event was mostly non-violent, mob violence was very much apart of the uprising. Many mobs burnt down homes, warehouses and ships prior to the boston tea party. The Sons of Liberty groups rioted as well.

ibstubro's avatar

We drove through/by Ferguson today.

“What,” I thought, “is being accomplished by the violence?”
My only answer was “Attention to the issues of racial disparity in Ferguson Missouri, in a negative way.”
Peaceful_ demonstrations in many other communities were much more powerful, IMO.

“Who lost the most from the violence?”
...Walgreen’s? – No, insured.
...The Black employees of Walgreens? Certainly, as they no longer have jobs.
...The citizens of the immediate community?
... ...Yes! Loss of jobs, loss of tax revenue, loss of confidence in businesses who might do business in the area. Loss of services should the burned out businesses decide not to rebuild.

In my opinion the protestors should try to form public alliances with the police to protect vulnerable areas in the future.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ibstubro I am no fan of violent protest. That being said, this reasoning sounds pretty persuasive to me.

funkdaddy's avatar

I can’t agree with that at all. It lays out exactly two options, which is a great way to force someone’s hand, but not genuine. My only options presented are…

- People burning down businesses and damaging property isn’t the way to handle the problems or force change, therefor I value commerce over lives. Actually it’s even worse. I value commerce over black lives specifically. Man I suck.

- Burn the whole thing down, I understand your rage. All of those small businesses are a small price to pay to… ??? What exactly? Get the media involved? Is that the end goal?

Isn’t the truth probably somewhere in the middle? There probably wasn’t an organized plan to pull the media in by damaging those businesses at all. There just weren’t any good options, so people reacted with rage. Some genuine, some not.

Saying rage isn’t the solution doesn’t make someone part of the problem.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro From what I have heard some of the worst destruction has been done by people who don’t live in the area.

jca's avatar

I heard the liquor stores in the area were among the worst looted. It seems to me like an excuse to smash and grab some free stuff.

ibstubro's avatar

It sounds like bullshit to me, @dappled_leaves. ”...white America howls with outrage if you interfere with the lifeblood of commerce” does not require destroying your own community. Why is ‘the amazing photo’ posted on the blog of demonstrators practicing nonviolent resistence rather than burning down Walgreens?

If the broadly racist statement “White Americans Care More About Property Damage Than They Do About Dead People.” can me applauded, then don’t cry and whine when you hear a white person say, “Black Americans Care More About Violence and Looting Than They Do About Dead People.”

Both statements are equally racist, but for the Reverend Al Sharpton can pronounce one to view wildly cheering crowds. Which does nothing to improve race relations.

The events in Ferguson are like the American Revolution in that in both the Americans and Blacks are waging war against their oppressors. They are different in that Blacks are doomed to fail unless they’re seeking a reservation. Otherwise, the only way to change the system is by using the system against itself, not by weakening yourself, your community.

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