Don’t lose faith in the law. Who is Obi-Wan and who is Darth Vader? How do we know when we cross from good to evil? In this very sad case, two promising young lawyers are accused of violent acts.
It is easy to lose faith in the law, and the ability of the people to get the Government to alter its policies to accommodate justice.
But there really is no going back. We either live in a Republic and patiently work for justice or we undermine the Republic.
We have a system of politics and law and voting and organizing. It is a slow system that frequently fails to change the culture. It is painfully frustrating.
But we cannot have a system of violence and threat of violence and intimidation. But you say, “yes we do. The enforcers of the law act with violence and intimidation. Indeed, sometimes they crush the life out of people by callously choking them on videotape.”
I know. I’ve known since I was 17 and saw police on horseback in Boston clubbing African Americans in a protest against the KKK in front of my eyes. Now, finally, most white Americans know what I know: that at times, some of those in law enforcement act in horrible contrast to the law. That is why I went into law. It is why I started this firm.
But the solution to violence by some is not violence or revolution. It is voting and lawsuits, peaceful protests and speeches. James Madison, Martin Luther King, the women of Seneca Falls— smart folks. Study them. Listen to them.
Compare our tradition of peaceful protest and legal challenge to the final fifty years of the Roman Republic, the show trials of the French Revolution, or of Stalin or the brutal work of Mao or Pol Pot. Learn your history. The certainty that smart, righteous, arrogant people have when they act violently against others results in the tearing down of civic society. It ends in a very sad and scary place that destroys families by the millions.
If you give up on our system and embrace violence to property and people, you are turning your back on the Republic. And once we go there, we face the lack of legal protection and the power of the mob. And the inevitable counter reaction by violent forces to restore order.
Keep your faith in our ability to make ourselves a better place. Do it by voting; by peaceful protest; by political organizing; and, yes, by lawsuit. Do not adopt the methods of those you hate. Or you will turn and you will turn our country into a place where we stop listening to each other and start dehumanizing.
Keep your faith in America and with your fellow citizens. Benjamin Franklin told us in 1776 that we had a Republic as long as we chose to keep it. Make it better. Demand more from it. But keep it.
Read the CNN article: “How two promising lawyers found themselves facing life in prison for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails during protests in NYC“, by Erica Orden, June 18, 2020