Letter to the Editor: In response to Amar Batra’s Jan. 7 article about violent protests


Dear Editor,

Yesterday morning, a friend of mine ran up to me to explain that they’d just found the most absurdly liberal article ever written, right in our very own Daily Campus.

A sentence into it, it is already quite apparent that several things need to be cleared up.

Firstly, liberals and progressives oppose violent resistance. The rioters of UC Berkeley were not that. Rather, they were radicals. While liberals believe that public opinion is enough to create social change, radicals understand that it isn’t that simple. Peaceful protest has always been ineffective because it creates no incentive for those in power to enact any sort of change. However, when people organize around their ideas and take action to pressure politicians into having their way, then things get done. Nonviolence is just a tool in the radical’s arsenal, not an ideal in itself.

Next, let’s address your rather milquetoast response to the very real threat of fascism.

Amar, do you know what fascism is? You were perceptive enough to point out the fact that “alt-right” is just a politically correct term for “neo-Nazi,” but you haven’t yet made the leap to understanding that fascism must be stomped out promptly, by any means necessary, wherever it rears its head.

If you’d grown up in my family, if you had heard stories of relatives who simply disappeared after the war, of desperate attempts to flee the fighting, would you be so willing to “talk it out”? If ageing partisans, who long ago had escaped the camps to hide in the snowy forests of Lithuania, chatted with you at your synagogue every Saturday morning, would you still think that “violent protests” hold no merit? If your grandfather was stationed in Stalingrad, would you say that resistance to fascism “should never turn violent, no matter how bad things get?” As a queer Jew, I will not wait until they arrive at my door to take me to the cattle cars. Violent protest against violent ideologies is entirely justified. To say otherwise demonstrates severe myopia, lack of an understanding of history and privilege.

Additionally, in your article, you write several interesting things. “Trump supporters have already made clear that they view liberals and progressives as thugs.” So what? Trump doesn’t need to be convinced of anything. As Leon Trotsky said, “If you cannot convince a fascist, acquaint his head with the pavement.” We are past the point where anyone is trying to prove anything to anyone. Now, what matters is making Trump’s plans inviable, resisting however we can. You also quote Dr. Martin Luther King, who once remarked that “a riot is the language of the unheard,” to defend your pacifist ideals. Interesting choice. “When the go low, we go high” is not a tactic that works when you and your enemy have nothing to prove to each other.

Finally, I’d like to note that I’m not an adventurist – I don’t care for violence for its own sake. For example, acts like breaking Starbucks windows (as was done on January 20th) can have an adverse effect by excusing the militarization of the police at a faster rate than the left is ready to combat. It is legitimate to critique such actions.

That said, I believe that it is important to maintain a culture of solidarity. By dismissing the protesters at Berkeley as violent thugs and by categorically rejecting violence as a tactic, you harm those actively resisting Trump. Let’s face it, the left needs all the help it can get. Why write an article about the left not handling a fascist as delicately as you’d like them to when you could have written one about the dangers of fascism itself? I leave you with a suggestion: Even if you aren’t going to mask up and beat up Nazis (which is perfectly fine), do your part by supporting the people who do.

-Richard Hamberg

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