To the editor:
Like many of you, I watched the protests in Boston last Sunday evening from the comfort of my living room. What we saw in Beantown (i.e. demonstrations devolving into violence) has been seen in other U.S. cities over the past few days: from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to New York, to name a just few. These protests are in response to the horrific killing of George Floyd last Thursday.
I am never in favor of violence. It is never acceptable. It may, at times, be a necessary evil, but the operative word in this adage is “evil.” My philosophy of civil disobedience aligns more with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than Malcolm X, although I do respect both men immensely and understand how “justice denied,” to use King’s term, can lead to rage, which, in turn, can spill over into violence. (I strongly recommend the work of professor James Cone on this subject.)
I have to ask myself (a white, well-educated, heterosexual male who has never been the victim of discrimination), “What would I do if I was being denied my basic human rights continually and no one was listening? Would violence become an option?” My honest answer is, “Possibly.”
That said, I feel as if most of the violence and looting that the media is showing us is being perpetuated by people affiliated with organizations such as Antifa, who infiltrate these organized actions seeking hostility for the sake of hostility. Others suggest that it is instigated by right-wing extremists who benefit from such protests turning violent. I have no doubt that both are at work across the United States.
That said, I do not think that the violence and looting is representative of, nor was it perpetuated by, 99% of the people engaged in exercising their First Amendment right to assemble peacefully to protest institutional racism. Furthermore, there are other types of “violence” that are inflicted upon minorities and the poor that go beyond broken windows and burning police vehicles: i.e. corporate greed that does not provide people with a livable wage, access to quality education in low-income neighborhoods, tax-loopholes for the wealthy, and bailouts to billion dollar businesses. When will these become deplored by the victimized masses?
At a time when we need real leadership and someone who can bring us together as a divided nation, we have a President who spews hateful rhetoric regularly via Twitter, which may be the worst kind of violence. The system is broken, my friends, and we need leaders on both sides of the aisle to help rectify it.
Dr. John Tamilio III