It feels like America is on the verge of a civil war.
That is a truly frightening prospect, something that ten or even five years ago seemed unimaginable.
But consider the circumstances.
It isn't just that the mass media has ginned up both sides over the past four years, although that is certainly a part of it. Throughout his term, the media has portrayed President Trump as the second coming of Hitler and the country that elected him as some sort of racist monster. The campaign of hatred is endless; tracking each incident is as hopeless as tracking particles of sand in a tornado.
Just days ago, Kurt Eichenwald, journalist for the New York Times, tweeted that he wanted to "find an antimasker and beat them to death." Responding to a Joe Biden tweet saying it's time to "unite, heal, and rebuild," prominent actor and comedian David Cross tweeted in reply: "Fuck that. I want blood."
Around the same time this was happening, the recipient of the 2019 National Teacher of the Year award, Rodney Robinson, lionized the neighbor of Senator Rand Paul that battered him, leaving the senator with six broken ribs. Robinson called the perpetrator "a true Kentucky hero" and urged Senator Mitch McConnell's neighbors to "step up" and do the same.
While the left gins up its base by condoning, encouraging, and even praising violence, the rank hypocrisy of the mainstream in condoning these statements -- while at the same time ostracizing and vilifying any conservative that says anything remotely similar -- is increasingly leading the right to think there is no hope in traditional American institutions for justice.
To say nothing of the recent election, consider that while left-wing figures routinely make threats, encourage and even perpetrate violence with impunity, Lucas Gerhard, a 21-year-old conservative, faces charges for making terrorist threats -- a 20-year felony -- for posting a photo of his lawfully owned rifle and joking among friends that it "oughta make the snowflakes melt."
For this statement, Lucas was arrested on August 28, 2019, and spent the next 83 days in jail, denied bond. A Type I diabetic, Lucas nearly died in jail before being released on $250,000 bail under house arrest, where he has remained to this day, and prohibited from using the Internet, even to attend school.
Even if the charge is defeated, Lucas has lost at least a year and a half of his life, and his hopes of becoming a law enforcement officer are forever lost.
Meanwhile, as journalist Andy Ngo has meticulously documented, almost none of the rioters in Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere will be prosecuted for their actual violent acts of political terrorism.
The right correctly perceives that there are two systems of justice in America: one for themselves, in which one misstatement can destroy their careers and their ability to feed their families, and another for the left, who can lie, threaten, bully, assault, and batter anybody and face no consequences.
This is all leading towards a climate of political violence, and the powder keg may be lit in Washington on January 6.
At a time like this, we need a voice of peace, a great voice capable of guiding the movement like Martin Luther King did in the civil rights era.
Nonviolence was the principle Dr. King endorsed above all else.
To cite just a few of his most famous quotes:
"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
"Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love."
"The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence."
But just as odious as the buffoonish effort of today's left to portray King's occasional sympathy for the motivations of rioters as a tactical endorsement is the mainstream whitewashing of what Dr. King actually accomplished.
Years ago, I stumbled across an obscure article on, of all places, Dailykos.com, a website of, by, and for commie punks.
What follows is a very long quote from his article--almost the whole thing. For readability's sake I wish I could shorten it, but there is no way to make the thrust of the article more succinct without cutting essential context. It must be quoted almost in completeness, because the lesson is that important.
But read on, because the lesson is critical, and it isn't being taught anywhere else, certainly not in schools and universities.
It's being erased, and the lesson is more important than ever, and applies now to the MAGA movement of today.
I remember that many years ago, when I was a smartass home from first year of college, I was standing in the kitchen arguing with my father. My head was full of newly discovered political ideologies and black nationalism, and I had just read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, probably for the second time. [...]
I was having this argument with my father about Martin Luther King and how his message was too conservative compared to Malcolm X's message. My father got really angry at me. It wasn't that he disliked Malcolm X, but his point was that Malcolm X hadn't accomplished anything as Dr. King had.
I was kind of sarcastic and asked something like, so what did Martin Luther King accomplish other than giving his "I have a dream speech."
Before I tell you what my father told me, I want to digress. Because at this point in our amnesiac national existence, my question pretty much reflects the national civic religion view of what Dr. King accomplished. He gave this great speech. Or some people say, "he marched." I was so angry at Mrs. Clinton during the primaries when she said that Dr. King marched, but it was LBJ who delivered the Civil Rights Act.
At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn't that he "marched" or gave a great speech.
My father told me with a sort of cold fury, "Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south."
Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don't know what my father was talking about.
But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.
He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.
I'm guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing The Help, may not understand what this was all about. But living in the south (and in parts of the midwest and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.
It wasn't that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn't sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.
You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement used to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth's.
It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.
This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people.
White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of "assault," which could be anything from rape to not taking off one's hat, to "reckless eyeballing."
This is going to sound awful and perhaps a stain on my late father's memory, but when I was little, before the civil rights movement, my father taught me many, many humiliating practices in order to prevent the random, terroristic, berserk behavior of white people. The one I remember most is that when walking down the street in New York City side by side, hand in hand with my hero-father, if a white woman approached on the same sidewalk, I was to take off my hat and walk behind my father, because he had been taught in the south that black males for some reason were supposed to walk single file in the presence of any white lady.
This was just one of many humiliating practices we were taught to prevent white people from going berserk.
I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparents' vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank. They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness. My strong, valiant, self-educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men. Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict. Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.
This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.
If you didn't get taught such things, let alone experience them, I caution you against invoking the memory of Dr. King as though he belongs exclusively to you and not primarily to African Americans.
The question is, how did Dr. King do this—and of course, he didn't do it alone.
(Of all the other civil rights leaders who helped Dr. King end this reign of terror, I think the most under appreciated is James Farmer, who founded the Congress of Racial Equality and was a leader of nonviolent resistance, and taught the practices of nonviolent resistance.)
So what did they do?
They told us: Whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-a-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down.
Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed.
If we do it all together, we'll be okay.
They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn't that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating—from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms and take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.
And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn't that bad.
Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened?
These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail.
That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another. This is what the writer, James Baldwin, captured like no other writer of the era.
Please let this sink in. It wasn't marches or speeches. It was taking a severe beating, surviving and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free.
So yes, Dr. King had many other goals, many other more transcendent, non-racial, policy goals, goals that apply to white people too, like ending poverty, reducing the war-like aspects of our foreign policy, promoting the New Deal goal of universal employment, and so on. But his main accomplishment was ending 200 years of racial terrorism, by getting black people to confront their fears. So please don't tell me that Martin Luther King's dream has not been achieved, unless you knew what racial terrorism was like back then and can make a convincing case you still feel it today. If you did not go through that transition, you're not qualified to say that the dream was not accomplished.
That is what Dr. King did—not march, not give good speeches. He crisscrossed the south organizing people, helping them not be afraid, and encouraging them, like Gandhi did in India, to take the beating that they had been trying to avoid all their lives.
Once the beating was over, we were free.
It wasn't the Civil Rights Act, or the Voting Rights Act or the Fair Housing Act that freed us. It was taking the beating and thereafter not being afraid. So, sorry Mrs. Clinton, as much as I admire you, you were wrong on this one. Our people freed ourselves and those Acts, as important as they were, were only white people officially recognizing what we had done.
The lesson of this article is uniquely relevant to understanding black history, but from the perspective of today's MAGA movement, which is most certainly not predominantly black, it is also a lesson on tactics.
Any of this remind you of more recent events? It should.
Today, then, as conservatives regroup from battering elections in 2018 and 2020 and prepare for the reign of terror we know is coming in a Biden/Harris administration (and to a remarkable extent is already here), I ask: where is our Dr. King?
Where is our voice of peace?
Years ago, it was Ron Paul. But the elder Dr. Paul was never the charismatic orator we needed, and at his age he is in no shape to lead a movement.
Donald Trump? Please don't be silly.
The rally in Washington, DC this Wednesday could easily turn into a bloodbath. Violent attacks from Antifa are a certainty. Provocateurs are a certainty. And no matter whether 90, 95, 99, or 99.9% of demonstrators are unarmed and peaceful, the small, even infinitesimal minority of conservatives that come armed will be used to smear all the rest.
The only man who can pre-emptively stop this is President Trump, by declaring that those welcome are only the disciplined, the peaceful, the smart and the safe people who are there only to protest the theft of their votes and of their president's second term.
But no. Instead, Trump tweeted: "Should be wild!"
We need a new leader. I don't know where we can find one, but we had better start searching now.