Cesar Chavez Speaking on Behalf of the United Farm Workers Union, 1973
It seems I’m back to being the village crank again. The local newspaper is publishing my op-eds. I’m speaking truth to justice. Words I’m writing for other people to say are getting said. I’m taking no prisoners. I’m holding the unaccountable accountable. I am on a tear.
Last week it was a conversation with a Tea Party partisan about the role of violence in achieving political change. It started when my friend Vivian Paige posted a thoughtful entry at her blog about the way some of the politically and socially defeated have resorted to violence to make themselves heard. Vivian expressed concern about how one small step into violence begets another, and so on. She encouraged her readers to be cautious of approaching that “step too far.”
I put a link to Vivian’s blog entry on my Facebook page. My Tea Party pal almost immediately jumped in with a comment about how violence is justified when true danger is presented, and reminded me that we’d all be British citizens if we didn’t use violence. I reminded my pal that the concept of justifiable danger doesn’t apply to mere disagreement with a president whose race and policies you are uncomfortable with.
You can imagine how this went on. This particular Tea Party follower and I would probably disagree on the color of the sky. But I believe we’ll never find common ground if we don’t get to the bottom of our respective differences. So we both go at it for a day or so and then move on to other things.
Yesterday’s burst of crankiness had to do with a friend’s comment about how four U.S. Navy SEALs are being mistreated for a series of crimes they admit to having committed. (As in the case of Martha Stewart, more of the SEALS’ charges have to do with trying to hide the original act than with the original act itself.) I don’t know if it’s happening elsewhere. But at least around here there is a small band of hearty supporters who believe the SEALS are being unfairly hung out to dry.
We don’t need to go into the details of today’s exchange. The supporters believe the SEALS are justified in applying excess force for revenge’s sake, even when the task at hand doesn’t justify it. (They also apparently believe that dereliction of duty and lying about it to their commanding officers are also justified.)
I suggested that the facts of the case, including the confessions of the four SEALS, indicate that these guys are bad apples who shouldn’t be allowed to wear the mantle of the Special Forces. They not only committed and confessed to unjustified crimes, but in doing so dishonor all the other Special Forces personnel who acquit themselves honorably.
Again, you can imagine the firestorm this ignited. One woman opined that in times of war soldiers have no reason to be hindered by “petty little rules.” (Obviously this woman has never been in the military.) Others wanted to blame it on the president, like the commenter whose parting shot was, “A strong, loyal President would prevent this type of action.”
My favorite line, though, was from the guy I’ve never heard of or met before who believes I—and I’ll use his exact spelling and grammar here—“spend more time behind a desk eating food and drinking coffie than in any field of battleJust .like most of the left side of this country..”
I don't even drink coffie, much less "behind a desk."
What does this have to do with photography? Nothing. But it gives me an excuse to show an old picture, above, from the 70s when protests were connected to reality and those who committed undue acts of violence in the heat of their passion were held accountable.