Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Baltimore, Violence, and the Wages of "Revolution"

Front page story in today's Baltimore Sun: 
A mom, a disabled son, and a home that blazed amid Baltimore's riots
It begins:
Black soot covers the two-story house like a dark shadow. The roof has collapsed, and a bright red sign proclaims the home has been condemned.
Until a few weeks ago, when the riots roiled Baltimore, this house at Hilton Street and Piedmont Avenue was home for Laporsha Lawson and her severely disabled son, Khai'Lee Sampson. 
The liquor store adjacent to Lawson's home started burning about 1 a.m. on April 28. Lawson awoke, raced up the stairs to grab Khai'Lee and rushed him to her parents' home about a block away, moments before flames engulfed the house. 
"They took everything from my child," said Lawson, 28. 
The wheelchair customized for Khai'Lee's small body, the back brace that helps him sit upright, the machine that pumps oxygen into his lungs when he stops breathing at night -- all were destroyed. So were the supplies for his feeding tube, his clothes, even his new swing.
Ah, but no, say the armchair revolutionaries, they didn't take everything from your child; they struck a blow for justice! Every brick they threw, every window they smashed, every fire they set, was a necessary step on the path towards righteousness! You and your disabled son don't have a place to live now? Tut-tut, that's but a minor obstacle in the important battle of sticking it to The Man!

That, in essence, is the attitude of every asshole and overtestosteroned blowhard out there who was calling for violence after Freddie Gray's death and is still calling for violence all the time at blogs and news sites all over the blabbosphere. They are saying, though they're too gutless to admit it, it's okay that Laporsha Lawson's house burned down. The Revolution demands it. The Revolution won't succeed without it.

Of course they're sitting quietly in their own houses that haven't burned down, behind computers that didn't get looted, with a cup of coffee that won't get thrown in their face, and, bien sûr, with no disabled children to take care of.

If you haven't seen these ramblings in the blabbosphere, count yourself lucky. And no, I won't link to them because I don't want to give them any more publicity than they already have. But it's a meme and an attitude that's gaining more strength among would-be change agents on the left (as it has always been among gun-cuddlers on the right -- funny how they're peas in a pod yet can't see it). If you do want to read about it, you can acquaint yourself with the beliefs of the so-called Black Bloc, which Chris Hedges has ripped to shreds

More than once.

What they never acknowledge is that violence has a life of its own. It's a force that, once unleashed, you can't control. They with their intellectual theorizing and morality play juxtaposing and absolutely no goddamn experience of their own actually doing what they exhort others to do.

Derrick Jensen, who's spoken and written a lot about the tactics of revolutionary change, puts it well:
“They are unwilling to think critically about whether one is acting appropriately in the moment. I have no problem with someone violating boundaries [when] that violation is the smart, appropriate thing to do. I have a huge problem with people violating boundaries for the sake of violating boundaries. It is a lot easier to pick up a rock and throw it through the nearest window than it is to organize, or at least figure out which window you should throw a rock through if you are going to throw a rock. A lot of it is laziness.”
You can say that again. 

In the meantime, the Laporsha Lawsons of the world pay the price.