Editorial Note: This excellent interview of Professor Omar Wasow concerning his newly published paper gives light on the efficacy of nonviolence vs violence as a tactic by protestors to get what changes they want to support their cause. The interview of Wasow by Rolling Stone’s “Useful Idiots” Katy Halper and Matt Taibbi is very timely given the recent worldwide protests of the wrongful killing of George Floyd and other Black and Brown Americans. Professor Omar Wasow suggests that his political science data shows that overall, protestors choosing nonviolence is far more effective in creating change than choosing violence as a tactic. Nevertheless he admits that often times if there is initially some violence it may help bring in the notice of the media and thus the public. But to keep the focus on the issues of the protestors rather than on their violence, they need to choose the higher road, much as Martin Luther King did in the 1960’s which resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act which soon resulted after. However many of those protests that followed King like the Watts Riots and Malcolm X in the late 1960’s, resulted in the the focus to be on the violence rather than the cause of the maltreatment of Black and Brown Americans and other members of the underclass. This then resulted in the public choosing a law and order candidate in the next general election (Richard Nixon rather than Walter Mondale). According to Wasow, thereafter the violence of the late sixties ended up helping to seed the creation of a more militarized police rather than solve the real problems of Black and Brown Americans, especially the majority of whom who remained part of the working poor.
Omar Wasow: Efficacy of Peaceful vs Violent Protests–interview by “Useful Idiots” Halper and Taibbi
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