Tag Archives: nonviolence

The Right to Peaceably Assemble

I grew up in the Sixties, era of assassinations. Even before the people’s choice of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was undone in 2011 by a madman’s bullet, I always respected the courage our politicians show when they make themselves available to their constituency.

Newly elected interim congressman Ron Barber is starting his service with a courageous stand for the constitutional right of the people peacefully to assemble. The citizens who came out to meet their representative were are saying ‘no’ to the culture of fear and pre-emptive violence that drives and divides us. This simple act of meeting freely in public is a powerful nonviolent testimony of faith in the American people and the democratic process. From the AZ Central…

TUCSON — Newly sworn-in congressman Rep. Ron Barber, who was injured in a mass shooting last year along with then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, held his first “Congress on Your Corner” event with southern Arizona constituents on Saturday.

Giffords conducted 21 of the informal meet-and-greet events during her more than four years in office, including one on the day of the shooting — Jan. 8, 2011. The rampage left six dead and 13 wounded, including Giffords and Barber, her then-district director.

Giffords relinquished the seat in January to concentrate on her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head. Barber, a Democrat, won a special election to replace her earlier this month. He was sworn in Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

About 300 people showed up at Saturday’s event outside a Tucson grocery store as temperatures topped 100 degrees, Barber spokesman Mark Kimble said. Visitors ranged from other survivors of the mass shooting and well-wishers to people who had concerns about their federal student loans or veteran’s benefits, he said.

The democratic process was violated by the murderous attack that took the lives of six innocent people and wounded thirteen. Ron Barber is showing physical and moral courage by refusing to let the gun rule our politics.

Nonviolence With the Pros

NPR’s Dave Davies interviews author Bruce Weber about the life of an umpire. What jumps out from all the other fascinating facts (whole transcript here) is the umpire’s technique for conflict resolution…

Mr. WEBER: Well, the thing about umpires and arguments is that an umpire goes against his instincts as a human being. Most people, they get in an argument, and they try to win it, but an umpire’s job is not to win the argument, it’s to end the argument.

If the guy just wants to come out and yell and scream, you fold your arms, and you let him yell and scream a little bit, and then you say okay, okay, you’ve had your say. That’s enough. If he keeps going – you know, you sort of have to read your opponent.

If he starts kicking dirt on you, well you know, get off the dirt and onto the grass where there isn’t any dirt to kick. If he wants to go nose to nose with you and start yelling and screaming, don’t let him do it if he’s chewing tobacco.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEBER: Don’t let him get his don’t let him get the bill of his cap underneath the bill of yours because as he bobs his head, he’ll be knocking you in the forehead with it. I mean, these are – and in the end, don’t do things like bait him. Don’t try to get the last word in. Don’t insult him. You know, don’t do anything that is going to perpetuate the argument.

I’m impressed with the combination of nonviolence and subtle physical self-defense moves. Ever had to talk someone down? I have. The best fight is the one that doesn’t happen.

The Tough Practicality of Dr. Martin Luther King

The heat, the humidity, the hate, the stupidity… It’s hard to think straight. To my Republican friends, I apologize. The Larouchites defy categorization, and Larouche likes to run in Democratic primaries. He did pretty well at times in the South.

Of course, in the South they have a saying. ‘Just ’cause the cat has kittens in the oven don’t make them biscuits.’ The Democratic Party doesn’t want anything to do with him, but they can’t legally keep him from claiming any label he wants.

Larouche accuses President Obama of failing to adopt the single-payer plan he is advocating–

There is no rational argument that can be made against LaRouche’s proposals. They provide health care and funding sources—whereas the Obama plan provides neither. What Obama’s does, instead, is to provide a British-Nazi-style apparatus to kill people, as part of a British imperial drive to utterly destroy the only threat to their world domination, the republic of the United States. And that must be stopped.

I don’t know how long Larouche has had any interest in health care, but he has a history of attacking politicians from both the left and the right flank. I don’t stay up at night worrying that the Redcoats are coming, but some do. The British, of course, have a single-payer system that insures all their citizens.

Insuring all our citizens is not an agreed goal. I talked to a lot of people at the Town Hall meetings, and often the same ones who were carrying signs about the evils of rationing explained to me that some Americans were just going to have to die of preventable diseases.

Reasons offered–
We don’t have enough doctors.
We don’t have enough money.
They made bad choices and chose not to buy insurance–tough luck.
Women have too many babies they can’t afford. (This from a man who said he was a pro-lifer)
The Constitution doesn’t mention health insurance.
They can go to the Emergency Room.
Most of them are illegal aliens anyway.

I am not an economist or a Constitutional scholar. All I can offer is my own witness to the waste, stupidity, heartlessness and mis-allocation of resources that I see every day in our current ‘system’. I think that some of the anger being turned against efforts to fix this mess comes from a sense of the insecurity most of us face with our job-linked insurance. We need reform and we need it now.

I recognized the Larouche disciples because I had encountered them in New Hampshire, in 1977, when I was part of the Clamshell Alliance organization against nuclear power. The Clam was an education in all that can go wrong and right with a political organization. I remember hearing rumors that provocateurs had infiltrated, and finding the thought laughable. We were quite capable of fouling things up on our own without outside help. But years later Freedom of Information Act records showed that there were indeed spies and provocateurs.

Which leads me to the tough practicality of Martin Luther King. Nonviolence and civility are morally powerful tools for persuading opponents and winning allies. They are also powerful safeguards against infiltrators who try to undermine your cause by provoking violence in word or deed.

When I went to the Town Hall, I did not name-call, my sign was pro-reform, not anti anyone. I talked to people and tried to use persuasion. I clapped for Rep. Langevin, to let him know he had supporters, but I didn’t boo anyone.

To my Republican friends, I would ask you to strongly disown the Nazi and ‘death panel’ rhetoric, and all who use them. If the Larouchites show up with their sign tell them that they do not represent your views. Stop accepting their magazines with the vile picture on the back cover. To my Democratic friends, I would remind you that non-violence and civility are the tools of the strong. There were a good number of people in West Warwick who were not from there. There will be no shortage of provocation. Counter lies with truth- the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.

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