Gospel witness and violence: Responding to White Supremacy


I find it befuddling that so many people are critical of the left (or the right, for that matter) who believe violence is a necessary tool. Organized groups like the Klan and neo-nazi's have used violence and terror for a long time. The left, while often painted as cupcake-baking peace activists, have produced many individuals who are as willing to throw a brick as they have been to engage in civil disobedience in response to the violence of others. As a pacifist and practitioner of non-violent response to authoritarianism and injustice, I am not sure what place we have as Christian pacifists telling others not to use violence.

I don't see a real difference when pacifists reject in moral terms the peripheral violence of components of the right or left wings of the activist class when most peace-church-Christians have no problems voting for individuals that regularly support and direct militarism, engage in unjust economic and social policy making, and work as hard as they can to continuously marginalize the voices of those most negatively impacted by such policy.

Why are so most Christians intent in allowing the nation state to monopolize violence? Not only that, you support a political actuality that gives the nation state such a monopoly the whole time you insist that violence is wrong. Subsequently we get election choices like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who will regularly drop bombs on marginalized victims of the state sanctioned power and control apparatus. They continue the procession of racist policy and economic terror you believe Jesus opposes.

How you gonna tell others not to fight when you explicitly vote for individuals who take an oath to be commander in chief of an arm and use of military power against the innocent every election cycle? Some folks are acting like white supremacy just suddenly showed up again, and now that is in in the white house rather than being eliminated as a political force, you all are concerned about violence? Brothers and sisters have been dying regularly, and your moralizing has resulted in little more than escalating the rhetoric.

Why no white folks out picketing the police headquarters or shutting down Washington. Weekend non-warriors are what I'm hearing. My wife Jenn responds that violence never solves anything. I believe this to be true. But non-violence never solves any problems ether. Violence and non-violence both produce change, or should be intending to. Violence is not a moral issue, but one of ethics. Violence and non-violence are ethical practices that inform a moral vision. For Christians, non-violence is an ethic of faithfulness to a God who has commanded a specific means of witness. When one acts violently, they cease to be faithful Christians, but they do not necessarily become immoral.

If you want change, you need to change your life, and not be critical of those who think it is time to pull this shit down and do something different. If you don’t like violence, and I reject violence as an option for any community I join, then you must produce some activity that does something other than yell and scream. You need to articulate and embody necessary change, not vote in order to continue on in life in a manner that favors your ability to continue on comfortably. One must provide evidence of being anti-racist, and marching does not provide nearly enough evidence. Like those who engage in violence, or those who receive the blows of hatred without fighting back, voluntary suffering must be displayed. We are commanded not to fight. We are commanded to carry our cross. We are not commanded to judge the ethic of those who choose other means to find justice as morally suspect. For, if you practice non-violence without pursuing active and radical change, it is you who are immoral according to the biblical text and the life of Christ.

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