I want to run something by you. This is a response to a letter in today’s local daily which I do not dare submit as a letter there, but which has a question I am asking in earnest. The writer gives several quotes supporting the contention that the public needs to be at least as well armed as the government in case the government turns to oppression. It ends with “Any questions?”
Here’s my question.
I think our government is a tyranny right now. In 2000 the Supreme Court, split along ideological lines, decided a federal election before a needed recount could be completed and in which the state in question had gone to questionable practices (the state official in charge of the election process was state campaign manager for one of the candidates and the voter rolls had been culled almost entirely involving persons who would likely have voted against that official’s preferred candidate). I think that was a coup d’etat.
This new government (that of W) lied to the American people about supposed intelligence and took us into a pointless war that cost us $700 billion so far (and will have cost trillions when all is said and done) plus the lives of 4500 American service men and women and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead.
After 9-11 the government took to itself powers that violate the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth amendments to the Constitution. This includes invasive searches without warrant, denying American citizens and others due process of law, restricting protests to so-called Freedom Zones far from where the POTUS or his VOTUS were speaking, the Patriot Act (abridgment of many civil rights), the use of torture (forbidden by Washington, Lincoln and by our military traditions), and the imprisonment of more people than in any other nation in the world. W’s successor seems to have given up none of these powers despite being of the opposite party and supposedly a liberal.
I believe that our government is now a tyranny and that the electoral process has been so tarnished that we cannot expect matters to be fixed at the polls.
Does this mean I should take up arms against the government right now?
My answer is no. I am committed to nonviolence. I do not believe that violent rebellion will achieve anything other than a national bloodbath and I do not believe that a victory by rebels would likely bring anything except even worse and more explicit tyranny. I believe in the power of the people in this country to stand against oppressive government by nonviolent means. That will take longer but the end result will be far better.
There have been several examples in recent times. Most of the Warsaw Pact nations had nonviolent protest movements and the fall of the Communist regimes was without violence in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, the Baltic states, and the USSR itself. Of these only Russia has returned to dictatorship and the rest are functioning democracies. The Marcos regime in the Philippines was ousted by the nonviolent People Power movement after decades of communist insurgency had failed. A nonviolent is demonstrably better than armed revolt.