Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And the Violence Continues: A Shooting at the Holocaust Museum Today

I blogged earlier today about one case--a recent one--in which a center-left coalition came to power in one country and then blew things, by refusing to show moral conviction in one of the most significant human rights struggles of the day in their nation. I noted that the failure of liberal political leaders who promised progressive change when they came to power, but who capitulated as noisy, threatening minorities on the right reacted to that promise, undermined their coalition and brought about the downfall of their government.

And this opened the door for the return of the right to power . . . . I noted that the "pragmatic" policy of appeasement of the political and religious right adopted by the center-left government when it came to power fed a strong resurgence of the right around hot-button issues, particularly civil unions for gay couples.

I pointed out that liberals' lack of moral fortitude and determination to check the power and bullying games of the right decisively, once and for all, when they gained power, opened the door for public demonstrations by fascist groups with quasi-religious ideologies, who paraded around with sticks they banged on the ground, "itching for the return of the kind of social order in which they could bust a fag’s skull (or a Jew’s, or an African’s, or a Muslim’s, or, most of all one suspects, a woman’s) with relative impunity."

Two days ago, I wrote,

Scott Roeder has just informed us that other acts of violence similar to the one he recently committed are being planned around the nation. And of course they are being planned—if not systematically and in an organized way, then in the dark corners of the collective psyche shared by heterosexually identified white men and all who collude with them, men furious at the sense that they (and their God, the one they uniquely represent, the one on whose behalf they do violence to everyone beneath them) are losing control.

Acts of violence by such men are designed not only to tell their traditional targets that said targets are in for a good old-fashioned beating. They are also designed to warn the nation that if it adverts to the suffering of such targets, or decries the violence of the men who own and rule us, or expects too much change too fast, consequences will follow.

And now this, which happened as I was blogging earlier today, apparently. It gives me no pleasure at all--not a whit--to find myself right when I predict the outbreak of violence.

All I can do when another event of this sort takes place is to keep blogging, to keep calling for action by those who have the power to make really long-lasting, substantive changes in our society, to make those changes resolutely, despite--and in strong defiance of--those who threaten violence to prevent such changes. And to do so even when those fomenting violence claim to act in God's name and have the support of communities of faith . . . .

When something like this atrocious shooting at the Holocaust Museum takes place, our tendency is to look solely at far-right fringe groups for an explanation of what seems to be baffling, inexplicable violence. But those groups are only part of the story.

The amorphous, morally flaccid "center," with its "pragmatic" calculations designed to assure that it always ends up on the winning side rather than the right one, is equally part of the problem. Placating bullies never stops them. Those who use violence to undermine progressive change will continue to try to employ bullying tactics regardless of whether we appease them or whether we move forward resolutely, despite their threats.

The threats, the bullying tactics are not a response to progressive change. They are a warning of more violence if the change promised by progressive leaders is actually enacted.

The only way to eradicate that violence once and for all from our society is to stand up to it, to stop letting it mesmerize us, to stop giving it watchdog status and bully pulpits. And to move forward the progressive changes the violence is designed to thwart--and, in this way, to build a society in which such bullying violence becomes a relic of the past, because it is no longer effective and those engaging in it have become dinosaurs.