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Terrorism Vs. Civil Disobedience - A Scorecard

Updated on January 19, 2015
In honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, let's see how the proponents of Civil Disobedience, such as the starting quarterback of the Civil Disobedience team pictured here, stack up against the advocates of terrorism.
In honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, let's see how the proponents of Civil Disobedience, such as the starting quarterback of the Civil Disobedience team pictured here, stack up against the advocates of terrorism. | Source

No Pulpit-pounding sermons, just a clear-headed examination of the historical scoreboard

This article started out as a passionate condemnation of violence and terrorism and an equally ardent defense of free speech, inspired by the attack on the offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo that took place on January 7th of this very young year. It contained a lot of pretty terms like "filled with righteous indignation," "bottomless cesspools of violence and retribution," "brutal, soulless beasts," and other expressions of disgust and dismay that would have made any Bible-pounding pulpit preacher proud.

But then I remembered that I am just a mailman, not a prophet or a preacher, and when I stand up on my soapbox to preach or rant most of the time people just turn up the volume on the TV or go into the other room. At least this is what my darling wife does. So I ripped out that page from the clunky manual typewriter in my head with the sticking "f" key that makes it very difficult to write profanities, and started again, thinking I would approach the topic of Terrorism vs. Civil Disobedience in a calmer, more analytical manner, giving each side a fair hearing without any predisposed bias, then drawing a conclusion about who is right and who is wrong based simply on the points on the scoreboard. "Scoreboard baby!" the passionate fans calling into sports talk shows declare on Monday morning after thumping their hated rival on the gridiron. We will use the same principle here, comparing and contrasting Terrorism and Civil Disobedience as techniques for removing unpopular governments or bringing about social justice, then decide which side is winning with a look at the historical scoreboard.


Civil Disobedience vs. Terrorism is the one contest where running up the score is not considered unsportsmanlike.
Civil Disobedience vs. Terrorism is the one contest where running up the score is not considered unsportsmanlike. | Source

Background

The waning days of football season are upon us. The NFL's conference championships are kicking off even as I write this, which means that many people in the United States are busy ignoring everything that doesn't involve big boys playing with an oval shaped pigskin. Therefore, in case you missed it, I will provide you with a brief play by play summary of the tragedy that occurred in Paris, France this last January 7th.

On January 7th two masked Muslim gunmen infiltrated the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and killed 11 people. The terrorists' specific grievance against the publication was its insistence on depicting Islam's Prophet Mohammed in cartoons, but the attacks were apparently unsuccessful in bringing about a more reverential attitude toward the Prophet. On January 14th, a week after the murderous assault, Charlie Hebdo thumbed its nose in the terrorist's faces by adorning its magazine cover with another caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. The magazine's print run went from its typical 60,000 copies to an unprecedented 7 million and climbing, demonstrating that terrorist techniques may not be successful at suppressing a perceived source of injustice.

I struggled for a while over whether or not to include one of these famous Charlie Hebdo magazine covers with this article. What stopped me was the thought that images of a religiously offensive nature may be against this site's guidelines. But I was also held back by the grisly mental image of Hub Page's San Francisco offices being firebombed by narrow minded people who can't take a joke. Therefore, if you want to see the controversial cover you will just have to Google it. This should take you all of three seconds because the images are everywhere. For you fans of terrorism out there, you may be disappointed to learn that your home team has once again failed to bring home a victory.

Leo Tolstoy of "War and Peace" fame is considered by many to be the Grandaddy of the modern civil disobedience movement.
Leo Tolstoy of "War and Peace" fame is considered by many to be the Grandaddy of the modern civil disobedience movement. | Source

What is Civil Disobedience?

Everybody knows what terrorism is - just switch over to a news channel at halftime instead of watching the Lingerie Bowl and you will undoubtedly hear some disturbing report of another suicide bomb going off in a city in the Middle East, another jihadist cell being broken up in Europe, or another beheading of an "infidel" being posted on the Internet. Terrorism really requires no explanation, it means what it says, which is simply scaring the be-Jesus out of people into accepting your demands.

Civil disobedience is a bit more complicated. A lot of people haven't heard about it because it's not as sexy or as flashy as terrorism and doesn't tend to make headlines or get soundbites or sell advertising time because it does not feature decapitated heads, mangled limbs, or masses of burning bodies. Therefore, a definition of Civil Disobedience is probably necessary, and this is "...the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands or commands of a government, or of an occupying international power." Civil disobedience essentially means doing nothing, but doing nothing can be a powerful weapon in the right hands. Not in my hands, because when I recently put Civil Disobedience into practice against my wife's tyrannical practices by refusing to paint the back fence, all it got me was a tongue lashing and a paintbrush in my disobedient hands.

Civil disobedience is not always non-violent, but Civil Disobedience's peaceful sub-category of Nonviolent Resistance has been very successful, especially where stacked up against terrorism, as will be seen.

Although American philosopher Henry David Thoreau is often credited with launching the practice of Civil Disobedience throughout the world as he sat placidly on the quiet banks of Walden Pond, watching the ripples on the water and refusing to pay taxes, successful modern Civil Disobedience movements can trace their genealogy back to Leo Tolstoy of War and Peace fame, whose grouchy, glowering stare you see above. In addition to his classic novels, the Biblical example of Christ's command to turn the other cheek inspired Tolstoy to write essays on Civil Disobedience that were read around the world, most notably by a young Indian lawyer named Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi. Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You had a profound effect upon Gandhi's Satyagraha or "truth" movement, which was employed to successfully expel the British from India.

Gandhi's success inspired American Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King to use Gandhian techniques to win Civil Rights for black people in the United States. Dr. King proclaimed that the Ghandian philosophy was "the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom." He even went so far to say that Gandhi was the "Greatest Christian of the modern world," even though Gandhi was not a Christian at all, but a Hindu. In a hypothetical conversation between the two Gandhi might have replied to Dr. King with one of his own notable quotes: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

At any rate, it is interesting how the bloodlines of Civil Disobedience can be traced back across three continents, to intellects and leaders that arose from three entirely different peoples of entirely different cultures and social statuses, which demonstrates quite clearly that Nonviolent resistance is a method of overthrowing oppression that is applicable to everyone, everywhere.

 Martin Luther King called Gandhi the greatest Christian of the modern world, even though Gandhi was a Hindu.  Gandhi said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.  Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Martin Luther King called Gandhi the greatest Christian of the modern world, even though Gandhi was a Hindu. Gandhi said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." | Source

Nonviolent Resistance lights up the Scoreboard

So what tangible results have been achieved by the Civil Disobedience tactic posited by Tolstoy, put into action by his disciple Gandhi, and then imported onto the American continent by Martin Luther King? We only need to glance up to the diamond-vision to see the outcome. The scoreboard says that Nonviolent resistance played a critical role in 50 of 67 successful struggles against authoritarianism between the years 1966 to 1999. Among these were:

  • the Iranian Revolution of 1979 which deposed the Shah.
  • The Solidarity movement in Poland which led to the downfall of the Communist government.
  • The People Power Revolution in the Philippines that overthrew the corrupt regime of Ferdinand Marcos.
  • The 1987-1990 "Singing Revolution" in the Batic countries Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that brought independence from the Soviet Union to these lands.
  • The 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.
  • The 1989-90 Monday demonstrations in East Germany. T
  • The 2004-2005 Orange Revolution in Ukraine.
  • 2011 "Arab Spring" revolutions across the Middle East that successfully removed many dictators.

Nonviolent resistance has a very impressive history of success in removing occupying powers, deposing corrupt or authoritarian dictators, or bringing about social justice for people who lack a political voice, such as African-American people in the United States and the "Untouchables" caste in India, for whom Gandhi struggled successfully. So now let's look up to the scoreboard to see how Terrorism is doing in historical terms.

In the glory days of MLK these people were carrying signs and they weren't hitting anybody with them.  All the same they ultimately won the day, demonstrating that peace does work, if given a chance.
In the glory days of MLK these people were carrying signs and they weren't hitting anybody with them. All the same they ultimately won the day, demonstrating that peace does work, if given a chance. | Source

Why Civil Disobedience works and Terrorism doesn't

I apologize to my pro-terrorist readers who found the above list a bit empty, but my research shows that as far as forms of protest are concerned you really are not in the same league as the Civil Disobedience powerhouse, and you really ought to think about getting off of the field before you hurt yourself.

Just why is it that terrorists get so little love and the fellas on the Civil Disobedience team wind up dating all the hot cheerleaders? Could it be that because when you kill or injure or maim people's friends, relatives, and family members yes they do get a little frightened and scurry for cover for a little while, but when they are hiding in the shadows they begin to regroup and they begin to think, and the bubbling cauldron of righteous fury in their souls begins to bubble over. Then, instead of continuing to shirk and cower they start to think and regroup and that is when they come out of hiding even stronger than before, and with a pissed-off attitude to boot. And then what happens is that people who might have been sympathetic to your cause before now look upon you and your kind as deranged killers, and whatever love you might have had before vanishes in a bloody rain of vengeance that only stirs up more attacks and then more vengeance in a never ending cycle.

Nonviolent resistance, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. It stirs up righteous indignation against the oppressors, not the oppressed, which is of course how it's supposed to work. For example, on March 7th, 1965, Civil Rights activists organized by Martin Luther King began their protest March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. State troopers and a sheriff's posse were mobilized to stop them with tear gas and billy clubs. Across the United States a program on the Nazi atrocities was interrupted to broadcast this clash to the American public. In the "Bloody Sunday" confrontation that ensued many of the marchers were beaten unconscious on national television and activist James Reeb, a minister from Boston, was murdered. America was outraged and on March 15th of that year President Lyndon Johnson called a joint session of Congress to introduce voting rights legislation. In spite of violent, intimidating terrorist tactics the billy-clubbing murderers lost and the peaceful marchers gained the legal protections that they were looking for.

Frustrated little boys everywhere like to play with guns and bombs, and hence terrorism persists.
Frustrated little boys everywhere like to play with guns and bombs, and hence terrorism persists.

So why is Terrorism still popular? - It's not just for Muslims, folks.

Let's face it, boys like to play with guns. Terrorism provides an outlet for unemployed young men in countries with substandard economies to release their restless energies using a religious, or a radically dogmatic political pretext (essentially the same thing) to provide a justification for so-called "holy" war against infidels, "class traitors," "subhumans," or whatever you want to call the bad guys.

In fairness to our Muslim friends, who are overwhelmingly a peaceful people, terrorism is not limited to adherents of the Islamic faith, but occurs anywhere desperate economic conditions attract desperate people looking to release their frustration in acts of violence against unarmed, innocent people. Jim Jone's 1978 murder of 913 of his cult followers in Guyana could be considered an act of terrorism, as could the 1994 massacre in Rwanda of between 500,000 to 1,000,000 members of the Tutsi tribe by radical members of the rival Hutus who embraced the violent "Hutu power" ideology. It should be noted, in the interest of updating the scoreboard, that the Tutsis ultimately won and gained control of Rwanda, in spite of the massacre of hundreds of thousands of their compatriots.

Examples of Non-Muslim terrorism such as these can even be found in the Middle East. In Palestine in the 1940s, Jewish Zionist terrorists belonging to the Irgun and Lehi organizations carried out bombings against Palestinian Arabs in which women and children were randomly and senselessly massacred. Terrorists even abound in the United States, a prime example being Timothy McVeigh's 1995 bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people were murdered, many of them children. Frustrated boys everywhere like to play with guns and bombs, and for this reason terrorism germinates across the globe wherever the seeds of dogmatic, uncompromising ideologies find fertile breeding ground.


I won't post a pic of the Prophet Mohammed, but maybe I can get away with this one of Talk Show Host Jesus, just to show folks that it is not impossible to laugh at yourself or your ideals.
I won't post a pic of the Prophet Mohammed, but maybe I can get away with this one of Talk Show Host Jesus, just to show folks that it is not impossible to laugh at yourself or your ideals. | Source

Conclusion - Time to change the Playbook

Although I have one of the thickest hides around when it comes to people making fun of me, my heritage or my religion, I'm willing to concede that there are people who also had a right to be offended by Charlie Hebdo's depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. But don't you think there is a better way to protest this insult other than shooting the cartoonists and their friends? What about staging a protest in the streets? Protests are embarrassing and tend to get to people protested against to want to change policy rather than deal with the negative publicity. How about staging a sit-in in front of the Charlie Hebdo offices? Sit-ins are expensive, and just might make the publisher kill the cartoons to get his people back to work. Sit-ins get even messier when the police are called in to move the protesters, because then the rolls are reversed; the protesters look like innocent victims and the publisher is suddenly the bad guy. Peaceful protests get you all of this and also let you avoid the costs of guns and bullets, which tend to be expensive.

Outside of simple offensive political cartoons a lot of other gripes of Muslims across the globe are perfectly legitimate. We in the west have done some bad things by invading Middle Eastern countries, bombing Middle Eastern cities to rubble and supporting countries that have driven people out of their homes. But violence is not the answer; violence does not get you points on the scoreboard, it doesn't get you a triumphant Gatorade bath, and it doesn't get you hoisted on your teammates shoulders. It's time to take another close look at the scoreboard and rethink the entire playbook.

Freedom of Speech?

Do you think Charlie Hebdo's decision to depict the Prophet Mohammed on their magazine cover is protected by the doctrine of freedom of speech?

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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Nicely done, Mel. A little bit of humour and a big dose of common sense and tolerance. I like the innovative way you've presented this issue. Very well done!

      Ann

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you annart for your very nice comment. Even though you are in SW England, I hope you are enjoying this Martin Luther King Jr. day all the same. He was a champion for freedom and Nonviolent resistance that everyone everywhere can admire. I appreciate your visit.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It was nice of you to wait until my Hawks advanced to the Super Bowl before you published this. That way I could give it the time it deserves.

      I had some rather profound things to say about terrorism, but in the end, all I can really muster up is the truth....terrorism sucks!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I know about Martin Luther King but was not aware that he had a day! He certainly deserves admiration everywhere.

      I agree with Bill that terrorism sucks.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Not only does it suck, Bill, it doesn't work. It is just an outlet for boys with too much testosterone. I guess I will be rooting for your seahawks in the Super Bowl because I like Pete Carroll and Tom Brady is too much of a pretty boy for my taste. Thanks for dropping in!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Excellent coverage of our most important current issue. Perhaps we should stop using concepts like "combating terrorism". I just love peaceful civil disobedience and practice it whenever I can. The timeliness of this is perfect. I wondered why I did not get mail today ;-)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      A very complete analysis of the origins of non-violent protests and how it stacks up against terrorism in terms of getting one's demands met. Non-violence wins hand down, but it is hard. It goes against human nature. Terrorism on the other hand is so much fun (for the terrorists). They get to blow things up. They get to feel like supermen. At least until they die or get captured. I noticed your hub right after I finished doing my hub on the life and sayings of MLK, and your conclusions fit right in with my own conclusions about non-violence.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      A very complete analysis of the origins of non-violent protests and how it stacks up against terrorism in terms of getting one's demands met. Non-violence wins hand down, but it is hard. It goes against human nature. Terrorism on the other hand is so much fun (for the terrorists). They get to blow things up. They get to feel like supermen. At least until they die or get captured. I noticed your hub right after I finished doing my hub on the life and sayings of MLK, and your conclusions fit right in with my own conclusions about non-violence.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Eric Dierker you didn't get your mail today because I was practicing my own form of civil disobedience by goofing around on hub pages instead of working. Actually my wife has me digging a hole. Gotta go she's calling. Happy MLK day!

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Catherine, whether one is religious or not I think Martin Luther King has to be acknowledged as a prophet of peace on a divine mission. Doing research for this made me acutely aware of what vile plots were hatched against him by white supremacists and J Edgar Hoover, and what surprises me is that he lived as long as he did to remove the scales from our eyes and bring about the beginnings of justice for his people and everyone. Thanks for reading!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Your makes me think. a diferencE between King and terrorists. King had a specific goal. Change specific laws. In one of the quotes I found, he says, he doesn't need to change hearts; he just needs to have laws the restrict bad behavior. 9/11, Boston marathon, even Charlie Hebdo. What was the goal? There was no goal except to blow things up. As you say, their tactics are counter-productive.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Counterproductive and self-defeating Catherine. They have no goal, they are just looking for an excuse to cause mayhem.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Mel

      the two phenomena are infinitely far apart. One is a mere technicality, the other is a total inhuman monstrosity.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      I cannot argue with that. Thanks for reading.

    • Dip Mtra profile image

      Dip Mtra 2 years ago from World Citizen

      Mel, I wrote a few articles on this, Messiahs of Peace, I have a Dream etc. My articles have always supported nonviolent protests as a better tool for resistance against oppression or ridicule. Thanks for taking this up further in better language and presentation.

      Dipankar

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub Mel. You are so good at writing about controversial subjects..it is an art believe me, especially so you don't offend one side. I agree totally with your viewpoint and this is the second hub I have read recently that connects Tolstoy, Gandhi and King. I actually read "The Kingdom of God is Within Us" and it had a profound effect on me. Well done. Voted up across the board.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Dipankar I don't think my language or presentation was better, just a little different. Thank you for reading!

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Jodah. I love Tolstoy and I enjoyed his massive novels but I have only read passages out of Kingdom of God. Tolstoy was a rather unique man; a count by full rights with his own estate and serfs, but he would often work in the fields with them. I appreciate your visit!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Tolstoy also made sure the poor could afford to read his works by distributing mant copies for free. Before that mainly only the elite could afford to read.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Very eccentric but big hearted man Jodah, but his influence went well beyond the literary sphere as gis thoughts inspired social movements everywhere.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You certainly have a different approach here and a controversial topic indeed. I like the idea of the great men used in this hub.

    • russinserra profile image

      Russ Inserra 2 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      Great and needed topic.

      I do cringe when I see you calling terrorism "sexy." I understand what you mean, but violence is the opposite of good sex(Y).

      I also disagree with your definition of civil disobedience as "doing nothing." Again, I understand what you are getting at, but think there are better word choices.

      Another good example of nonviolent revolution is South Africa's overthrow of minority white rule. The role of foreign governments in this revolution is interesting.

      Are there women leaders of nonviolence? That might be an interesting follow up article.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you DDE, they were giants among men indeed. Hopefully others of this caliber will come along to lead us where we want to go.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      russinserra I was just trying to use some poetic license. Hub Pages is way too literal as it is so I try to use a clever turn of phrase by time to time. By "doing nothing" I was mostly referring to passive resistance, such as when Civil Rights protesters sat at a white lunch counter and refused to move, or when people will chain themselves to a redwood tree for days to keep it from being logged. I thought about using South Africa as an example but I believe the ANC did resort to guerrilla warfare tactics, though not in a terrorist way. Sorry I could not include every example of civil disobedience, you make a good point on the women's movement and I will look forward to reading your hub on it. I was mainly trying to focus on MLK and the people who paved the way for him, since it was his day. Thanks for reading!

    • russinserra profile image

      Russ Inserra 2 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      Mel, don't get me wrong, Think this was a great article. My comments were observations.

      An article that uses the word "scorecard" in the title suggests an article that should be taken literally. My observation is that there many articles where poetic license is very appropriate and helpful and others where it is not. This just seems to be one of those that does not lend itself to a writer's license to enhance the text.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Well what can I say russinserra? I put my own spin on things and if I can't have a little fun doing there are things I could be doing that will get me more than the couple pennies I will make here.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Good article and I agree in nonviolent approach to deal with the problems. King in the 1960s had the right idea. It is the only way to look for change to really take place.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you ladyguitarpicker. King said that only love, not hate could carry the day. He showed us how to change the system without bringing about never ending conflict such as has occurred in Israel and in Northern Ireland. Thanks for dropping in.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an excellent hub with a great analysis, Mel. You've raised so many points that I agree with. I always enjoy reading your articles about political and social issues. In my opinion, they present a fair assessment with great supporting arguments.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you AliciaC for your very nice words. Coming from a writer of your quality and analytical ability they mean a lot. I appreciate your visit.

    • amazmerizing profile image

      amazmerizing 2 years ago from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA

      Good insights here! This is a very deep topic and one pondered over for many years. Im sure we will ponder for many more! Namaste!

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Mel, another excellent article! Your insight and balance are admirable. I always like reading your work because it's deep, intelligent and manages to soften harder points with humor without weakening them. This is the type of piece I'd expect to read in a magazine. I hope you'll consider publishing more. You deserve the recognition and pay. Voted up and everything else and shared.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Iris Draak you are making me blush. I am glad you noticed that I like to use a lot of sandpaper when I'm writing to round off the rough edges. I appreciate your very nice words. Thanks for reading.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you for your visit amazmerizing. Would be revolutionaries should actually not have to do a lot of pondering, the results should be perfectly clear and I think they are, which leads me to believe that the terrorists don't really want change, they just want chaos.

    • MarieLB profile image

      Marie L B 2 years ago from Yamba

      What a great article! Your case for Civil Disobedience is beautiful in content and style.

      I have to admit that if I were a Terrorist I'd be complaining that you started off by saying you'll be precise and fair, but you gave the other side 98% of the marbles, and how are we supposed to go for a win?

      I am not a Terrorist and I am so glad you showed them up for the weak hoons they are. Great Hub. Very Enjoyable reading.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you MarieLB. I am delighted you enjoyed it. Truth is I was trying my best to give those brutes a fair shake but I just couldn't find any evidence that weighed in their favor. I appreciate your visit.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This was so well said. Violence begets violence, then next thing you know, there is a full-blown warn on your hands. Then who wins? Nobody. There are casualties on both sides, and what does that really cost?

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Deb. The other good thing about Civil Disobedience I probably should have emphasized more is that it doesn't create this endless cycle of revenge. i appreciate you dropping in!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      I have long thought civil disobedient and non-violent resistance are very effective tools for change. One of things I believe both Gandhi and King showed was that by not reacting violenting you shine a spotlight on your oppressor who more often than not has an overreaction. It is that more aggressive reaction to non-violence that shocks those who would much rather go about their day than consider your issue.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      That is absolutely right, Mel, and eloquently stated. It immediately casts shame on the oppressor that is next to impossible to vindicate. Thanks for reading!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 17 months ago

      Non-violent protests and violent actions often happen at the same time. The side that gives in has an interest in crediting the non-violent movement for making them yield. In the best cases there are overdue social or political changes. In the worst cases, such as the Iranian Revolution and the "Arab Spring", there are situations far worse than the status quo ante.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 17 months ago from San Diego California

      Robert, I agree with your statement about violent and non-violent uprisings occuring side by side, and I am not saying violent revolutions never succeed. There are many examples of where they have. But we have to differentiate between violence directed at agents of an occupying power, such as military and police forces, and acts of terrorism which are mostly directed against civilians. The former case is viewed as legitimate resistance in the public perception, whereas terrorism is seen as random, mindless killing, and gains widespread condemnation rather than sympathy. I probably should have elaborated on this idea in the article, thanks for pointing it out.

    • SherrieWeynand profile image

      Sherrie Weynand 8 weeks ago from San Francisco, CA

      Excellent article, Mel! While I'm a little late to the ballgame here, I have to say that terrorism of any kind, from any group of people or individual, is abhorrent. Non-violent civil disobedience has always been (as you have pointed out quite well) a quantifiable way of making major changes.

      Now, that said, in the 2 years since you've written this article, we've been faced with several new instances of civil disobedience where it has again taken a violent turn. My issue now is this - when these cases turn violent, (I'll use the Phillip Castillo shooting just as an example), the thought crosses one's mind that they might have a point. Let me explain before anyone gets upset. Many times these instances have been presented and people protested (not the rioting, but legitimate protests), and people stood up and told them they were protesting the wrong way, (see Colin Kaepernick for a prime example), even in the Castillo incidents, many remained as peaceful protestors. They were still in the wrong according to many. Those protests eventually turned violent and the participants again were told they were protesting in the wrong manner. We've reached a point in time where regardless of how one protests, it's "not the right way." I've heard it countless times on various platforms, "these things aren't what we protest," "that's disrespectful to protest that way," "this isn't the time nor place to protest something." If our forefathers, our grandfathers, our great-grandfathers had all thought that way, they never would have crossed the bridge, they would have never sat at the lunch counter, that brave little girl wouldn't have walked through those school doors, and Rosa Parks would have never sat on that bus. Civil disobedience turns violent when people are no longer heard, when people are brushed aside as lesser citizens. While I absolutely do not condone violence, I have to stop to think that I understand why some do.

      Sorry for the rant LOL, I'm glad I ran across this hub, political, civil rights, and environmental are my hot buttons. ;)

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 8 weeks ago from San Diego California

      Sherrie,

      Delighted to receive your rant here. It could be that civil disobedience turns violent when peaceful protest doesn't get any attention, or it could be that civil disobedience turns violence when the leadership cannot properly discipline its membership. The American Civil Rights movement was blessed with extraordinary leadership. Martin Luther King was also inspirational enough to bring out the multitudes, another key component to making civil disobedience work. I just saw a Facebook photo of protests in Venezuela. The streets were wall to wall with people marching against the government. There aren't enough jails to hold so many people, so what is the government supposed to do but cave to the demands? I don't know what will be the ultimate outcome in Venezuela, but in order for civil disobedience to work I think masses of people have to mobilize behind strong and determined leaders.

      Thanks for your great comment.

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