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Emmett Barcalow: Mass violence is immoral, ineffective


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

I’m an old middle class white man, but I am appalled and enraged at the epidemic of police murders of unarmed black men. I understand why rage and frustration over the murders, over the failure of the good police officers to police the bad police officers, and the failure of the criminal justice system to punish the murderers has driven many protestors to violence.

I understand how the conscious and unconscious racism that has infected our society for centuries enrages those who are its victims.

However, like Martin Luther King Jr., I believe that however justified the rage and frustration is, mass violence is both immoral and ineffective. Mass violence harms the innocent as well as (or rather than) the guilty. It alienates many who might be persuaded to become allies. It provides oppressors with justification for further repression.

But King argued that passivity and silence in response to injustice are no more morally acceptable than violence. The only morally acceptable response to this epidemic of police violence targeting people of color is loudly to demand that we reform policing and the policing of police.

Is Massachusetts doing enough to reduce the chances that police in our state will kill unarmed black people?

Emmett Barcalow

Amherst