5 May 2015

Baltimore resistance, a human right

The Blog


Armed resistance is not morally equivalent to armed oppression, but a "human right" celebrated for leading great strides in social and political liberation.


This the view expressed emphatically by human rights activist Ajamu Baraka, author of Killing Trayvons, writing in Counterpunch's last issue of April 2015. He was commenting on the recent turbulent events in Baltimore, where mutinous protests erupted against US police violence. Baraka describes the US government as a "racist, settler-colonialist" regime that continually justifies violence around the world but cowers and denounces it if this regime's victims try to fight back.
The subtext of Baraka's short op-ed is that the incumbency of US President Barack Obama, the US's first Black President, will not be enough to excuse the continued "anti-Black racism" that still commands the institutions of the US government.

On the US government's pleas for protesters to refrain from violence, Baraka argued that violence is "fundamental to the U. S. colonial project" and that it has no moral right to condemn the violent resistance of oppressed peoples. These oppressed peoples, Baraka argues, encompass the Palestinians in Gaza, and the Yemeni people. Both of these groups took up arms against domination by their oppressors and were condemned by the US as terrorists

Baraka insists that he does not support violence, however. The violence is ultimately the fault of an oppressive regime cultivating it in all facets of life. Baraka argues that "violence is structured into the everyday institutional practices of all oppressive societies". When the oppressed resort to violence of their own, their mutiny cannot be condemned as spontaneous violence because it is simply a reaction to the perpetual application of violence by a regime.

The argument from Baraka is that inequality enforced by an unjust state should be recognized a form of violence, and resisting it is a mutiny against the practice of such violence itself. Therefore, in some sense, spontaneous instances of armed resistance to this murdering regime cannot be condemned as the systematic application of violence for a political aim (terrorism, in essence) but as resistance against such terrorism that is being applied by a regime against a race.

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