UC Davis: Cops Pepper Spray Passive Resisters; On Heroism, Ahimsa, and Lessons Learned

This now-infamous video from UC Davis says more about where we stand right now in terms of the chasm between the powerful and the powerless. At first, it looks like the cop could be watering his lawn; then the impact of what he’s doing begins to catch up to him, right there on camera. It’s truly an amazing moment.

These protesters are heroes in the same way that Gandhi’s army of passive warriors proved to be stronger than the entire British empire. They allowed themselves to be clubbed to death by soldiers on horseback. Today, the weaponry may be different but pepper spray remains a weapon (if you’ve ever been exposed to it, you can attest to that) and those students were victims, not violators. Victims of others’ obvious, entrenched greed.

And how do they react to this assault? They sit. They don’t move, they don’t crawl away as they’d have the perfect right to do. They’ve been blinded, after all. I wouldn’t blame them for a second. But they stay where they are. That, friends, is ahimsa, non-action.

And now you see it still works marvelously well. Violence is a weak cousin by comparison. There are only two responses to this type of non-violent protest: violence (which always—always—reveals oppressors and oppression for what it all really is: the idea some people have that their needs weigh more than those of the rest of the world), or negotiation. Either way, non-violence wins.

Of course, powerful and moneyed people hate this fact. This, I think, is one of the reasons the Tea Party exists. People like Dick Armey (bwah) realized they had a ready-made “people’s militia” in the TP’ers, who’d even obligingly dress up in full military colors of two-hundred plus years ago. The problem is, however, the TP is militarist at its core. Violence is so deeply entrenched in its rhetoric, with its “2nd-Amendment solutions” and “I came unarmed—this time” nonsense that the rest of the nation, and to be sure the rest of the world, saw it for what it is—animal bloodthirst.

The TP is a hungry dog led about by a cruel master. I suggest the master is our problem, not the dog. It’s time to starve the master for a change.

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About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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