Isaac Asimov once said that “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent” – and he’s right. From a young age, people are generally taught that violence is never the answer. While this is a solid foundation to base one’s own unique, developing ideologies and worldviews, it doesn’t necessarily encapsulate total reality, either. It’d be naïve to claim that there are no scenarios in which violence can be a justifiable means of defense or rebellion, but it certainly shouldn’t be the primary tactic for resolution.
2020 was an incredibly difficult year for virtually everyone around the globe due to COVID-19, and even so, this hardly put a dent in the American public’s desire to openly express their thoughts and opinions regarding subjects of racial inequality, political partisanship, and aspects of the welfare state. With an unshakeable goal to correct these issues came protests, and along with the protests came an ever-growing acceptance of violence to accompany them. It seemed that as the year progressed, news feeds and social media platforms everywhere were continually plagued with homicides, theft, and chaos as a result of the endless number of protests surrounding civil unrest. Fortunately, due to the deceptive nature of mainstream media, this doesn’t tell the whole story.
In the United States of America, most protests are nonviolent. In fact, approximately 93% of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests last year were recognized as peaceful, certifying these demonstrations as admirable in the eyes of many. While the number of violent displays remained low at this time, the impact of them shed a whole new light on the state of unruly protesting in America. When figures tell us that 90% of small, minority-owned businesses were destroyed in select areas of Minneapolis by rioters, the narrative begins to shift. When a $30 million affordable housing project designed to alleviate Black poverty was burned to a crisp by these same BLM “protestors”, I cannot help but feel that these acts are nothing less than self-destructive.
Although violent protests have proven to be scarce, the impact of them will never go unfelt. Polling from Politico tells us that 1 in 5 politically-driven Americans are actually willing to endorse violence if the opposite party were to win a presidency; a frightening figure to hear, indeed. With this, Americans are beginning to prove that violence could become a more acceptable medium of combatting ‘the system’ and pushing to implement their own beliefs. This is a grave and utterly disturbing philosophy to hold, and it only causes more harm than good.
A Sign of What’s to Come
The recent invasion of the U.S. Capitol may serve as one of the most obvious and alarming occurrences to signal an increasing willingness to utilize violence as a means of achieving political goals in America.
On January 6, 2021, a large mob of Republicans raided Congress in an attempt to overturn Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Using social media to gather hundreds of supporters, the protestors collectively breached and advanced through the Capitol where police were assaulted, politicians were harassed, and property was damaged or destroyed entirely. Not only did these actions disrupt the invaluable legal proceedings that the United States of America has been founded upon, but they also worked to tarnish the integrity and dignity of the People’s House. Five deaths have been confirmed since the incident took place, and from what occurred that day, there could have easily been more to count. The last time this building was breached was over 200 years ago, showing just how barbaric and unjustifiable this attempted coup truly was.
When Will it Stop?
At this point in time, we’ve seen several recent instances of violent displays–from both sides of the political spectrum–to accomplish their respective, politically-motivated goals. Over the past year, Democrats have continually taken their outrage to the streets to redeem the mistreatment and deaths of Black individuals such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, only to destroy the communities they promised to serve. Republicans have fallen victim to their own misinformation surrounding election results, participating in unimaginable feats that damage the wellbeing of their very own country. Here’s the truth: the feelings of each side are completely valid; their violent behavior, however, is not.
Let these violent protests stand as desperate pleas for help above anything else. Think about the blood needlessly spilled on the sidewalks and street corners; the countless tears shed for the loved ones lost in the process; the livelihoods ruined and dismantled in the wake of “justice”; the despair and agony spawned from rampant displacement; and the hope that America, as a collective, is losing in itself each day. Frustration does not need to step aside for artificial attempts at cooperation, but it must also refrain from fueling an individual’s desires for revenge and harm.
It’s rather simple to see the differences in context and motives between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to these displays of violence, but we have to understand that it’s a dangerous game to play. To have reasoning and passion behind a cause is important, and although they may act as differentiators between the two parties in many scenarios, the outcome of rioting and other forms of violence ultimately draw the same results; results that never tend to favor anyone involved.
Stand United or Fall Together
If Americans continue to participate in violent protesting, for whatever reason, both the severity and rates of these public displays will increase drastically. The United States of America is quite literally destroying itself from within. The massive amount of political polarization may very well play a key factor in this issue as the only possible way to make amends is to work together despite stark differences in the parties’ ideologies.
It’s unrealistic to expect an entire country to cooperate and work together at all times, but the effort needs to be there. The day that Americans start to set aside their differences and look toward more peaceful ways of solving conflict and outcries is when they, as a whole, will begin to thrive once again. There simply is no more room for violence.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and do not reflect the views of Conversationally Speaking Magazine.
Steven is a centrist thinker that heavily values independence, critical reasoning, and open dialogue more than anything. He is currently studying Rhetoric, Media, and Professional Communication at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. His work generally focuses on social change and the effects that media have on North American society.
Categories: Society & Culture
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