Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Would Ghandi-style Resistance Work In America?

I just saw Ghandi again, for like, the sixth time. Every time I watch it, the movie has an even bigger impression on me. I watch the movie, not as an historical depiction, but as a primer on overthrowing oppression.

I’ve had discussions with my friend, Jim Young, on whether or not Ghandi’s approach would work in the U.S. He suggests that the English thought of themselves as a civilized society, in fact the reason for their empire was to civilize the world. Of course, Ghandi’s tactics exposed the British Empire for what it was–just a group of thugs exploiting people for their own benefit. And it was those in control of the British Empire who were exposed as uncivilized, e.g, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, that killed some 1000 or so peaceful, unarmed protestors.

So do Americans consider themselves civilized? You would think that those who believe in the “exceptionalism” of America would include “civilized” as part of that umbrella. Does the oppression of the Indian people by the British Empire compare to the oppression that the ruling establishment foists upon the American people and abroad? My wife says, “no,” that at no time in the U.S. has law enforcement killed 1000 people in a demonstration. And that is true, at least in the U.S. But what about the continual shootings of American citizens by militarized cops almost always with impunity? And the declaration of power to assassinate American citizens? And the claim to power to indefinitely detain American citizens without due process of law? The number of innocent deaths from law enforcement since 911 exceeds 1000. By comparison, law enforcement only shot 85 total bullets in 2011 in Germany. That figure is sometimes exceeded in the killing of one person by law enforcement in the US. Of course, internationally it is even worse as the apologists for American Empire refer to collateral damage in the wholesale killing in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen (just in the recent past).

Ghandi understood that those resisting to oppressors needed a present, alert and active news media in order to succeed in exposing the tyranny for what it was. Today, we have countless new sources of information through the internet. So exposure should not be a problem.

But are Americans willing to look themselves in the mirror to see what has become of this burgeoning police state where we have more citizens in prison per capita than anywhere else in the world–by far? And we have a military budget that is virtually equal to the rest of the world combined. How long can Americans sit back and allow the piecemeal destruction of innocent lives by our “protectors”? How long can Americans sit back and allow the destruction of innocent lives, those who choose to live off the grid; those who choose to self medicate; those who choose to supply vitamins or raw milk in the market place; or grow vegetables on their front lawn; or become an entrepreneur without paying tribute to the government, or those who choose to deal in an alternative currency? How long will Americans tolerate the tyranny imposed on those who choose to live a life of freedom? How many Americans understand what freedom is?

And if a sufficient number of people do come to this realization, would Ghandi-style active non-violent resistance be effective here? Or do Americans, collectively, only answer to violence?

I am only asking these questions. I don’t have an answer. Because I don’t have an answer to why Americans in mass aren’t already demanding an end to tyranny. Haven’t they the ability to think abstractly or do they choose not to? Does the tyranny have to happen to them or their loved ones? Is it that only a small segment of America experiences this tyranny whereas under the British Empire, the Indians were reminded of it every day? Would it matter if every American knew that a 35 year- old mother is undergoing a life sentence without parole, because she told somebody over the phone that she would “Let me see what I can do” when being asked to supply some drugs. Never said, “yes”? Never supplied the drugs?

I was brought up Roman Catholic although I am not one now. But one concept from Jesus has always stuck with me.”Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” I hear Jesus calling to the millions of Christians in America. Are they listening? Are they afraid? Do they care? Do those who believe in an “exceptional” America care? Do we think we are civilized? Does a truly civilized person stick their head in the sand when confronted with news of American tyranny? Are we civilized, are we cowards, or are we thugs?

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