Surprised by violent protest in Baltimore? Where have you been?

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“I am not recommending violence, but it is ludicrous for anyone familiar with American history to condemn violence as a justifiable means to achieve justice when the powers that rule are unwilling to listen to reason.”

The uncomfortable fact that no one wants to deal with is that in America, no civil rights or social change was successfully won without some form of violence and violent protest. Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, the only thing that finally wrests any ounce of concession from the powerful is violence.

We are a violent nation, born in violence, solving our problems with violence, and have been involved in violence with other nations for the vast majority of years we have existed.

An editorial by Lonnae O’Neal in today’s Washington Post makes the point far better than I can.

 Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, a Spelman College professor, just wrote on Facebook that few jurisdictions have done “ANYTHING to signal that ‘law and order’ applied to police officers, too. Now, some folks are just TIRED.”

And they have long been tired. Seventy years ago, Harper points out, Langston Hughes’s character Simple threw bricks through store windows during the 1943 Harlem riots — caused by a white policeman shooting a black soldier. When Simple was challenged about using violence, he explained: “That is the way the Allies got [justice] — breaking up Germany, breaking up Hiroshima, and everything in sight.”

Harper also pointed out that Arthur Schlesinger Jr., in his book “Violence: America in the Sixties,” writes: “Violence, for better or worse, does settle some questions, and for the better. Violence secured American independence, freed the slaves, and stopped Hitler.”

Wrote Harper: “I am not recommending violence, but it is ludicrous for anyone familiar with American history to condemn violence as a justifiable means to achieve justice when the powers that rule are unwilling to listen to reason.”

The professor noted that Simple didn’t loot. “PLEASE recognize the difference between opportunistic looters and genuinely frustrated protesters and rioters,” Harper wrote.

Question: Who thinks looting is bad?

Raise your hand if you know what happened to the Wall Street types who broke into the American economy, exploited every financial loophole, melted down mortgages, made off with people’s retirement funds, leaving taxpayers to bail them out in 2008.

Read the rest of this extremely powerful editorial in the Washington Post here.

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