10 May 2005 - Tuesday

John Brown and political violence

Caleb McDaniel says he is eagerly waiting for his copy of David Reynolds' John Brown, Abolitionist : The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights. Why? Because the book, according to early reviews, seems to be not only a lionization of John Brown, but also a condemnation of nonviolent abolitionists as ineffective and perhaps cowardly. I like McDaniel's response:

It certainly is true that nonviolence sometimes is a sign of cowardice, but so is violence. It's always startling to me that despite the fact that most people accept detailed taxonomies of different kinds of violence, which range along a spectrum from justified and heroic violence to illicit abuse, very few of us have similarly well developed taxonomies of different kinds of pacifism, which can also range from the heroic to the thoughtless. I have suggested that a simple dichotomization of radicalism that places "fight" on the one hand and "flight" on the other does violence to history.

| Posted by Wilson at 15:37 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk