Saturday, August 19, 2017
TKC SATURDAY MUST READ!!! KANSAS CITY CRIME EXPERT DR. ERNEST EVANS EXAMINES THE HISTORY AMERICAN POLITICAL VIOLENCE AMID PREZ TRUMP CHARLOTTESVILLE REACTION CRISIS!!!
Right now Dr. Ernest Evans offers an important historical look at the current American culture war turned violent with some important examples, references, data and BRILLIANT perspective.
Dr. Ernest Evans: Violence By Domestic Groups in the US
The tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017 have once again brought to the forefront the issue of violence by extremist groups in US history. In the 1960s black radical Stokely Carmichael used to say: "Violence is as American as cherry pie" (Apple pie would have been a better example, but his point stands!!) There has been a great deal of politically motivated violence in US history. And extremist groups on both the left and the right have often been willing to use violence to achieve their goals.
It is important to recognize that most of the politically motivated violence in US history has been "pro status quo" violence--violence designed to uphold the status quo rather than violence to further social change. And in the more than two centuries of the American Republic there have been a number of targets of such "pro status quo" violence.
A heavily disproportionate amount of this "pro status quo" violence has been directed at black Americans trying to achieve racial equality. The Reconstruction Era (1865-1877) was one of the most violent periods of American history as efforts to make the newly-freed slaves first class citizens met with massive resistance by the white majority. In terrible massacres like the 1873 Colfax Massacre in Louisiana (in which 153 people died) the black population of the South was terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists organizations into accepting second class citizens--they were not to become full citizens until the 1960s. And, it is now largely forgotten, but in the period of the civil rights movement from 1955 to the death of Dr. King in 1968 some several hundred people were murdered by the Klan and similar organizations in an effort to preserve racial segregation.
Another target of such "pro status quo" violence has been new immigrants. In the years since its founding the US has seen waves of immigration from parts of the world not represented among the original population--and these new immigrants have often not been welcomed by the native population. The large Irish immigration of the 1840s and 1850s (sparked by the Potato Famine of 1845-1853) led to a lot of violence against Irish-Americans. When immigrants from China and Japan began to arrive in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they were often subjected to violent attacks in the places where they settled. In Los Angeles in 1943 there were several days of rioting targeting Mexican immigrants--the infamous "Zoot Suit" riots. In 1965 the US changed its immigration laws to end the national quotas that had severely restricted immigration to the US from Third World countries--the resulting large wave of immigration from Third World countries has sparked a lot of violence against these new immigrants.
There has also been a lot of violence against movements working for economic change. The US has had a very bloody history of labor relations--with strikes often being violently put down and with labor organizers being murdered. And groups pushing for radical change like the Industrial Workers of the World and the Communist Party have often been targeted for violence.
In one respect the history of violence in America has been quite different from most other nations, and that is the issue of violence against people of different religions. Such violence has been rare in the US--although not entirely absent. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon faith, was murdered by a mob that considered his church to be a perversion of Christianity. Leo Frank, the Jewish owner of a factory in Atlanta, Georgia, was falsely accused and convicted of raping and murdering a young girl in 1913--and then was lynched by a mob in 1915 when the governor of Georgia courageously commuted his death sentence. And in the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11 there have been a number of acts of violence against American Muslims and Sikhs. (Sikhs are not Muslim but are often mistakenly identified as such.)
In the past several decades we have begun to see a new form of violence by the extreme right; namely violence by anti-government militants. Such violence began to take place as, starting with the Vietnam War and Watergate the American people's trust in the good faith of their government declined sharply. By the early 1990s, with the Ruby Ridge incident of 1992 and the Waco incident of 1993, many Americans began to conclude that their government was illegitimate and had declared war on its own people. The Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 is only the most spectacular action by these anti-government militants--as several articles in 2015 by Judy Thomas of the Kansas City Star show, in the past several years several dozen people have been murdered by anti-government militants.
Now, while violence by the extreme left has been a lot less common in US history than violence by the extreme right, there have been a number of cases of violence by left-wing extremists. In the 1870s in the coal fields of Pennsylvania a group called the Molly McGuires carried out a number of acts of violence against mining companies and their employees. In 1910 a radical labor leader bombed the offices of the Los Angeles Times--21 people died in this explosion. In 1920 an anarchist exploded a bomb on Wall Street--38 people were killed. In 1901 an anarchist successfully assassinated President McKinley--and in 1933 an anarchist unsuccessfully tried to assassinate President-Elect Roosevelt. (He did, however, kill Mayor Cermak of Chicago.)
In the years of the Vietnam War there were a number of violent groups on the extreme left such as the Students for a Democratic Society and the Black Panthers. While these groups got a lot of publicity and did carry out a number of acts of violence, they were never able to get the mass base of support that enables revolutionary movements to grow and flourish.
In conclusion, in the Administration of President Trump violence by extremists on both ends of the spectrum has become a most serious issue. The election of Trump showed that there are a lot of Americans who are upset with the changes in our society in the past several decades--and the first few months of his Administration have led to a counter-mobilization of Americans afraid that Trump will undo the gains they have made in recent years. The deep anger that has been expressed in the several days since the tragedy in Charlottesville shows that America right now is deeply polarized--and that polarization could lead to a great deal of violence.