How To Incite Violence Redux

December 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Several Weeks ago I posted an essay entitled “How To Incite Violence”.  It was a response to the decision of Benjamin Netanyahu to demolish the homes of the Palestinians who murdered people at a mosque.  Some of the reaction to the murders of two New York police officers reminds me of that essay.

Solidarity Is Not Served By a Declaration of War

Pat lynch, president of a NY police union, erupted after the murders with a disgusting accusation that NY Mayor de Blasio was complicit with the  murderer because the Mayor has defended the right of New Yorkers to protest the police killing of unarmed black men and, as the husband  in a mixed marriage, has described how he felt obligated to warn his son to regard policemen with extreme caution and some fear.

Lynch, speaking soon after the murders, used a televised interview to spew the following accusation:  “[There is] blood on many hands tonight” [including] “those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest” [and starting with] “the office of the mayor.”

It is hard to imagine a more irresponsible and ignorant way for a union leader to behave.  While leaders in the black community,  surviving family members of the young men who were killed, the Attorney General and the President of the United States, have denounced violence, but vowed to protect the rights of the protesters, Lynch chose to demagogue the issue by blaming the Mayor and the protesters for the violence of a mentally deranged assassin.

Any fool can see that the most dangerous outcome of the events of the past few weeks is a complete rupture of trust and cooperation between the black communities of America and the police forces upon whom they depend for protection.  That result leads to a perception of the police as an enemy occupying paramilitary force.  The most likely reaction to that perception is the development of guerrilla tactics by the occupied against the occupiers.

That result is not necessary.  No one believes that all, or even most policemen are murderous bigots.  But, when the elected leader of the police declares war on those who are seeking relief from what they see as police abuse by some policemen, as well as on the public figures who acknowledge the reasonableness of their quest, it promotes the idea that, in fact, all the police are the enemy.

Guerrilla wars are brutal, bloody and hard to end or win.  Ask the French about Algiers.  Ask the veterans of the Vietnam war.  Ask the British about the IRA.  We don’t want a guerrilla war against the police in the ghettos of America.  That’s why Pat Lynch is an idiot.

The Real Problem

There is similarity between the reaction of Pat Lynch to the protesters and the reaction of Netanyahu to Palestinian murderers.  Both willfully ignore the real sources of incitement of hostility toward those they represent.  In both cases, the hostility is born of months and years of daily debasement and harassment, occasionally punctuated with episodes of lethal violence.  In Gaza and the West Bank, it consists of annoying check points, travel restrictions, unjustified armed confrontations, and debilitating interference with normal commerce.  In the minority communities of America, it consists of “stop and frisk” policies, unjustified automobile stops by armed police, so called “driving while black” arrests and detention, needless casual violence during these episodes involving having one’s head slammed into the hood of a car and being ordered, at gun point, to prostrate oneself on the ground and being strangled to death if that order is resisted.

Reactions to these practices become, over time, generalized cultural smouldering anger, transmitted from one generation to the next.  They incite hostility, anger and distrust toward those responsible for them.  When this morphs into  organized protests, it is stupid to conclude that the protests incited the hostility, anger and distrust.

This is the kind of absurdity that characterized the claims that “outside agitators” were responsible for the civil rights protests in the South in the 60’s.  Pat Lynch has joined the pantheon of crackers who whined to news interviewers that “These outsiders are just stirring up our nigras and causing trouble.”

A Recommendation

One reason for this rant is an excellent op/ed piece in today’s Haaretz newspaper.  This professional writer expresses these ideas better than I can.

Here is a link:  Haaretz



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