Kingian Nonviolence Or Rittenhouse Self-Defense Violence Is The Question
As America begins a new year by celebrating the legacy of the world’s most famous proponent and practitioner of nonviolent social and economic change, Martin Luther King Jr., to be or not to be that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of unearned redemptive suffering or take and resort to Rittenhouse self-defense violence against a sea of troubles and injustice. Kingian nonviolence or Rittenhouse self-defense violence is now the question in the minds of all nonviolent American small d democrat citizens protesting for social or economic change.
When a jury of 11 American Whites and 1 American person of color, with a biased judge who would not allow nonviolent protestors shot or killed by the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse, to be referred to as victims but said that they could be referred to as “arsonists” or “looters” even though neither victim had been convicted of committing any crime, declared Rittenhouse innocent on all charges for maiming 1 person and killing 2 unarmed others who were exercising their 1st Amendment right to protest the wrongful police shooting of an American Black, has raised a legitimate question of whether Kingian nonviolence or Rittenhouse self-defense violence is the right strategic chose for those protesting for justifiable change in America.
In theory since Rittenhouse, an underage minor at the time of the shooting was illegally carrying an illegal weapon, traveled from the state where he lived to Wisconsin to defend a business he had no connection to, and claimed fear for his life self-defense after killing 2 unarmed protestors he provoked by showing up armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, means American white people who object to what protestors are protesting about are now free to show up to the protest, shoot the protestors and claim self-defense. A natural reaction would be for nonviolent protestors to arm themselves in an attempt to protect themselves.
At first glance, this would be a logical reaction but not a strategic reaction. In reality, it’s neither logical nor strategic. It’s letting well-intentioned emotions lead one down the road of an illogical Rittenhouse self-defense violence philosophy of using violent methods to create or maintain nonviolence. Proof that the Rittenhouse self-defense violence of brandishing a gun to maintain nonviolence is illogical can be found in every prison in America, where all prison guards are prohibited from carrying guns around the inmates they guard because the only way to guarantee no gun violence is to maintain a gun-free zone.
Having a gun in one’s home or car for protection against violence is an acceptable and opposite matter, from showing up armed with an assault rifle at a nonviolent protest provoking the safety and nonviolence of protestors. The first mistake Kyle Rittenhouse made was thinking he could prevent violence by bringing violence, his AR-15 assault rifle, to a nonviolent protest. His assault rifle became the source of the violence that he claimed to be there to prevent.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Kingian nonviolence principles teach us that a nonviolent destination can never justify any violent road taken to get to the nonviolent destination. Current nonviolent protestors considering the idea of arming themselves with guns at future protests, even if for self-protection, must resist sinking to Rittenhouse self-defense violence tactics in their protest quest for change, because as Dr. King said “ violence multiplies violence “. Violence multiplying or escalating was clearly demonstrated in 1 instance of the 3 instances of Rittenhouse shooting violence.
Ironically the only Rittenhouse shooting violence survivor was himself a violator of Kingian nonviolence protest rules, RULE NUMBER ONE to be precise, which is to never bring a weapon of violence to a nonviolent protest!!! Gaige Grosskreutz, the Black Lives Matter protestor who survived Rittenhouse self-defense violence, violated Kingian nonviolence protest rules by bringing a concealed gun with him to the protest. Since Grosskreutz says he has a concealed carry permit to carry a gun he was within his legal right to do so, but by bringing a gun he escalated the violence already present at the protest. Escalated violence that ended up being inflicted on Grosskreutz and caused the loss of 90% of his right arm bicep in the process.
Grosskreutz testified under the oath during the Rittenhouse trial that it was he who first violently pointed his gun at Rittenhouse, never intending to shoot Rittenhouse only to restrain Rittenhouse from shooting others, but Rittenhouse matched Grosskreutz’s violence by pointing his gun back at Grosskreutz and then multiplied and escalated the violence by shooting Grosskreutz shredding his right bicep. Aside from the nonviolent philosophical rationale that a nonviolent protestor should never bring a violent weapon to a protest, Grosskreutz showed the impracticality of a nonviolent protestor bringing a gun to a protest.
Protest demonstrations by design are confrontational and tension-filled, in the flash of a moment of an unthinking emotional response to provocation from a gun touting protest opponent, if a protestor is carrying a concealed weapon they are very likely to brandish it to shoot or to prevent from being shot, either way as was the case with Grosskreutz and Rittenhouse the violence will escalate, most times with life-threatening consequences.
The Grosskreutz Rittenhouse self-defense violence also illustrated the strategic reason why nonviolent protestors should never bring violence or violent weapons to a nonviolent protest. Whenever a protestor engages in violence while protesting their violence, regardless of whether it is self-defense violence or looting violence, becomes the focus of attention and not the protest cause. Protestor violence also legitimizes any violence that rogue law enforcement officials or protest opponents commit.
The sole reason why Kyle Rittenhouse walks free today as a murderer who killed 2 unarmed people, is because when nonviolent protestor Gaige Grosskreutz committed self-defense violence by bringing a violent weapon to a nonviolent protest, it gave Rittenhouse the false claim and a biased judge and jury the false rationalization that Rittenhouse had to kill 2 unarmed people to save his own life. In other words, because a nonviolent protestor brought a violent weapon to a nonviolent protest over police misconduct, instead of a trial to decide the fate of the police officer who wrongfully shot a citizen, there was a trial that produced a not guilty verdict for an armed protest opponent who shot and killed 2 unarmed protestors, denying the 2 killed protestors justice and totally diverting attention away from the original protest cause of a wrongful police shooting.
Because there has been no restoration of the Voting Rights Act from Washington D.C., no police reform from Washington D.C., and Republican-controlled state legislatures throughout America are enacting laws that allow them to disqualify legally cast votes in their state to achieve a different outcome than the one citizens voted for, means numerous and massive protest demonstrations are a must in 2022. As important as it is for numerous and massive protests to occur in 2022, it’s equally important that all protest demonstrations be NONVIOLENT in both word and deed.
Any violence that does occur in word, deed, or both at nonviolent protest must be committed by either rogue law enforcement officials, on-looking protest opponents, or criminals that show up to take advantage and become looters. When protestors protest according to Kingian nonviolence by refusing to commit violence through word or deed while protesting, when they refuse to resort to Rittenhouse self-defense violence by bringing a violent weapon to a nonviolent protest to protect themselves, they discover what the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement protestors discovered, that the most powerful weapon to force change in America and the world is not violence of any type its Kingian Nonviolence!!!
Kingian nonviolent protest gave America and American Blacks the freedom promised but not delivered by America’s violent civil war or the 14th Amendment to the American Constitution. Brown versus Board of Education was a crucial blow to legal American racism but it was not the death blow. The death blow was the direct action of Kingian nonviolent protest and Kingian nonviolent economic boycott attacks that broke the back of the most powerful nation in human history. A death blow delivered having never fired a single shot or destruction to a single inch of property by protestors during the numerous protest demonstrations held throughout the United States that followed Kingian nonviolent principles and practices.
Any person who brings a weapon of violence to a nonviolent protest is not a nonviolent protestor they are a violent protestor injecting violence into an atmosphere of nonviolence. As Dr. King said in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize lecture “ violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”
Any well-meaning nonviolent protestors who now say they will bring weapons of violence to a nonviolent protest to protect themselves from future Rittenhouse violence, are protestors forgetting the nonviolent lessons of the Civil Rights Movement. Nonviolent protestors must not let the actions of people like Kyle Rittenhouse, who show up in opposition with a violent weapon, tempt them into making the same violent mistake of bringing a violent weapon to a nonviolent protest. During the Civil Rights Movement, the Kyle Rittenhouse’s that would show up at Kingian nonviolent protest demonstrations armed with weapons of violence were a-dime-a-dozen, but Kingian nonviolent protestors never showed up to protest with weapons of violence even though the Kyle Rittenhouse’s of the 1960s were killing their share of nonviolent protestors.
Also, a true Kingian nonviolent protestor does not bring or profess during the protest rhetoric of violent words that inject spiritual violence into the minds of fellow protestors. The commitment to protest according to Kingian nonviolent protest principles in the face of thousands of violent Kyle Rittenhouses delivered the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. As Dr. King said and the Civil Rights Movement proved, “ nonviolence is a powerful and a unique weapon of force in human history, because it cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals. We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself.”
At this crucial time in America when the sanctity of American democracy’s foundation pillar of one-person-one-vote-counted is under attack, America’s justice system is inflicting injustice on people of color, and politicians, as well as everyday citizens, are increasingly turning to violent words and violent deeds to resolve their differences or to achieve the change they seek. Kingian nonviolence can restore the Voting Rights Act today, Kingian nonviolent protest can right the wrongs of America’s criminal justice system today, and Kingian nonviolent protest can deliver economic and healthcare reform today.
But only If Americans who are seeking change or reform follow the wisdom and history lesson of the Civil Rights Movement’s nonviolent protestors who achieved their reform and change victories, by defiantly rejecting Rittenhouse self-defense violence and vigorously embracing Kingian nonviolence!!!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events. Drop by his website for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.
Originally published at https://isaacnewtonfarris.com on January 4, 2022.