On the plea for peace

Even as she fears the possibility, Andrea Mazzarino detests the prospect of a civil war in Amerikkka.[1] She is, of course, entirely correct to do so.

But she recognizes the hateful rhetoric and deeds of the right[2] that I have also commented on.[3] And she takes note[4] of a non-trivial possibility that Donald Trump might refuse to relinquish power and that he appears to be doing everything possible to avoid doing so even if he loses the election.[5]

That we even have to imagine a military solution to the usual peaceful transition of power [between presidents] is both absurd and 2020’s version of reality. That’s why what its enemies call “political correctness” – respect for standards of decorum, kindness, and the peaceful mechanisms of democracy – is vital. If you don’t like what the other side’s nominees say or do, then vote them down at the ballot box. Organize other voters. Write letters and attend town hall meetings. Support evidence-based journalism. But don’t debase the mechanisms that have, for centuries, allowed us to better our union.[6]

There are a couple problems here. First is that a partial cause of this division is a feckless elite that in fact depends upon that division to preserve its own power and privilege over the rest of us and that can only be removed through force of arms.[7] Until we do this, and—here’s the even harder part—manage to do so in a way that does not merely replicate the problem by replacing one set of thugs with another, we are doomed.

Second is a reality that we are already in a horrendously violent situation. Of most recent note, and as Mazzarino notes anecdotally,[8] police are disproportionately killing Blacks.[9] Of longer term note, the structural violence of social inequality kills through inequities in, among other things, housing, health care, food, and opportunity.[10]

Mazzarino is far from the first to plea at least for non-violence.[11] But non-violent social movements achieve incremental progress at a pace far slower[12] than lives and, indeed, the very planet (with the climate crisis) are being lost. The question is no longer about the avoidance of killing, but rather at best, how many will survive, and at worst, whether any will survive at all.

  1. [1]Andrea Mazzarino, “War Zone America?” TomDispatch, September 22, 2020, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176752/tomgram%3A_andrea_mazzarino%2C_%28un%29civil_war/
  2. [2]Andrea Mazzarino, “War Zone America?” TomDispatch, September 22, 2020, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176752/tomgram%3A_andrea_mazzarino%2C_%28un%29civil_war/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Take those Amerikkkan flag pins off your lapels,” Not Housebroken, September 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/19/take-those-amerikkkan-flag-pins-off-your-lapels/
  4. [4]Andrea Mazzarino, “War Zone America?” TomDispatch, September 22, 2020, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176752/tomgram%3A_andrea_mazzarino%2C_%28un%29civil_war/
  5. [5]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html; Democracy Now!, “What If Trump Refuses to Accept a Biden Victory? A Look at How Electoral Chaos Could Divide Nation,” August 3, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/8/3/nils_gilman_2020_election_scenarios; Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and John Wagner, “Trump encounters broad pushback to his suggestion to delay the Nov. 3 election,” Washington Post, July 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-floats-idea-of-delaying-the-november-election-as-he-ramps-up-attacks-on-voting-by-mail/2020/07/30/15fe7ac6-d264-11ea-9038-af089b63ac21_story.html; Ed Kilgore, “How Trump Is Trying to Ensure an Early Election Night Lead,” New York, August 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/08/trump-voters-could-vote-in-person-and-give-him-early-lead.html; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Kevin Liptak and Betsy Klein, “Trump floats delaying election despite lack of authority to do so,” CNN, July 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/30/politics/trump-delay-election-no-authority/index.html; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Peter Nicholas, “Trump Could Still Break Democracy’s Biggest Norm,” Atlantic, June 16, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/when-does-trump-leave-white-house/613060/; Felicia Sonmez, “Trump declines to say whether he will accept November election results,” Washington Post, July 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-declines-to-say-whether-he-will-accept-november-election-results/2020/07/19/40009804-c9c7-11ea-91f1-28aca4d833a0_story.html; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  6. [6]Andrea Mazzarino, “War Zone America?” TomDispatch, September 22, 2020, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176752/tomgram%3A_andrea_mazzarino%2C_%28un%29civil_war/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “We ‘need to know how it works,’” Not Housebroken, March 19, 2012, https://disunitedstates.org/2012/03/19/we-need-to-know-how-it-works/; David Benfell, “We need to do everything different,” Not Housebroken, July 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/07/30/we-need-to-do-everything-different/; David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, August 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/; David Benfell, “Off with their heads,” Not Housebroken, August 19, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/17/off-with-their-heads/; David Benfell, “Voting for complicity,” Not Housebroken, September 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/20/voting-for-complicity/
  8. [8]Andrea Mazzarino, “War Zone America?” TomDispatch, September 22, 2020, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176752/tomgram%3A_andrea_mazzarino%2C_%28un%29civil_war/
  9. [9]Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police-promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/31/time-toss-bad-apples-excuse/; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/08/police-officer-shootings-gun-violence-racial-bias-crime-data/595528/; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020, https://www.thenation.com/article/society/white-america-cops/; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/how-do-we-change-america
  10. [10]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).
  11. [11]Andrea Mazzarino, “War Zone America?” TomDispatch, September 22, 2020, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176752/tomgram%3A_andrea_mazzarino%2C_%28un%29civil_war/
  12. [12]Bill Moyer with JoAnn McAllister, Mary Lou Finley, and Steven Soifer, Doing Democracy (Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada: New Society, 2010).

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