It’s by somebody named Mark Ridley-Thomas, who claims to be a “Supervisor for the Second District in Los Angeles County,” a place in which I spent as little time as possible when I lived in Socal because violence. So it doesn’t seem as though Mr. Ridley-Thomas has much of a practical hold on his thesis.
Without a doubt, I support President Obama’s common sense recommendations to reduce gun violence. But tied to that approach, there needs to be something bigger. Something that transcends new laws and executive orders. We must commit ourselves to establishing a peaceful culture dedicated to the principles of nonviolence.
That proposition, nonviolence, is at odds with the policy pathways carved out by both the political left and the right. It is at odds with the proliferation of murderous depictions in movies and video games. It flies in the face of the Wild West narrative of our history, runs counter to the business interests of arms manufacturers and fundamentally contradicts everything for which the gun lobby stands.
Yes, it’s also at odds with all terrestrial history. Just as pure communism would have worked fine if we were all ants, nonviolence would work fine if we were all…um…actually I can’t think of a single creature on earth that never resorts to violence. Grass, maybe. Even roses have weapons.
Mr. Ridley-Thomas cites Ghandi, King and Cesar Chavez as glowing examples of successful nonviolent action. He ignores, of course, the obvious fact that these examples are exceptions to the rule and that they worked because of special circumstances. Their opponents were a) far too powerful to fight in a more conventional manner, and b) unlikely to simply slaughter them. It has often been noted that if Ghandi had faced the Germans instead of the Brits, he’d have done something else.
Nevertheless, Ridley-Thomas is in an excellent position to give us all a teachable moment. If he’s in the government of LA County, he can simply show us how it’s done.
So I say go for it, R-T. You convert LA County into a ‘peaceful culture dedicated to the principles of nonviolence.’ The rest of us will observe with interest.
But remember, you must do it in a completely nonviolent manner, which means the tools of government will not be available to you. Say what you will about the management of the NRA, whom you spend so much column space demonizing: As far as I know, they never killed or coerced anybody. Which is certainly more than can be said for your hero Obama, and probably more than can be said for you.