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.
Categories: Omar Wasow interview re effectiveness of Peaceful vs Violent Protests, Uncategorized, Useful Idiots interview by Katy Halper and Matt Taibbi, Useful Idiots interview of Omar Wasow
Let us remember that the non violent movement led by Dr King had something inside it which enabled it to be non violent in the face of the cruelty and violence delivered against it. And that was recognized spiritual self organization, in the form of black Christianity. The whole thing was organized through the churches. They had a transcendent spiritual solidarity. Without that the discipline to remain non violent is not available. So the question I see is how to re-establish that now.
Keeping in mind also that protest movements are deliberately infiltrated by agent provocateurs whose job is to create the violence. This is desired by the police departments and government agencies who see their role as to continue the oppressively violent status quo. Then the capitalist TV is so hungry to report only the violence. This creates a devilish trap. So a great power is needed in the face of all this to keep the progressive moment free of such contamination.
Another point. Why is he picking on Malcolm X? Is he a white liberal who is afraid of a strong black man? To the best of my knowledge Malcom X was pretty balanced in his approach. I believe the commentator is confusing militancy with violence.