Eighth, Scilla’s take on the U.S. Military is complete nonsense. Just to make sure we’re clear, the U.S. Military is an extension of the U.S. Government which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of multinational corporations. The U.S. Government, the U.S. Military, and the corporate masters they serve are all aggressors. They will use any means necessary—nonviolent or violent—to achieve their ends.
Scilla told the story about Lt. Col. Chris Hughes’ encounter with Iraqi civilians backwards. Scilla represented the story with Lt. Col. Chris Hughes being an enlightened commander by having his soldiers kneel when they were faced with a local Najaf population of fierce resistance. Just because his soldiers knelt doesn’t mean Lt. Col. Chris Hughes and his soldiers weren’t aggressors. They were still in Najaf on a mission from the U.S. Government, right? Then they were still aggressors. In that moment, they were just kneeling aggressors.
Nonviolent or violent, there’s no polite way for aggressors to steal another country’s resources. The local Najaf population didn’t want Americans there at all. They didn’t like being occupied. Who would? Lt. Col. Chris Hughes knelt because he had to. He was forced to. He didn’t have any tactical advantage to do otherwise, and he and his soldiers were faced with a strong resistance that was willing to defend their turf to the death if need be. The stakes were very high, as Lt. Col. Chris Hughes and his soldiers were just down the street from one of the holiest Shia mosques in all of Iraq.
The local Najaf resisters selected how they were going to resist, and on that day, it worked. If anything, this example shows how the people of Najaf (not Lt. Col. Chris Hughes) used intense nonviolent resistance to protect their homes. If this approach was all it took for Americans to leave Iraq, then the Iraqi resistance would have stayed with it. But after a couple years and the horrifying realization that Americans weren’t leaving (at least not until they privatized Iraq’s many supplies, services, and industries at the behest of their corporate overlords), many Iraqis decided to take a more direct approach in their resistance efforts. Have you seen The Hurt Locker?
Lastly, Scilla closes her speech with quite an assertion in stating that the 20th Century was the bloodiest century in history. Perhaps. But before making such a claim, Scilla would do well to qualify it and share the metrics she’s using to arrive at such a bold declaration. What does she mean when she says “bloodiest”? Most deaths involving resistance movements? Most deaths in war? Most deaths overall? Most deaths by violence? Most deaths by violence per capita? Most deaths by what Scilla defines as violence per capita? Some say the An Lushan Rebellion in 8th Century was proportionally speaking the bloodiest atrocity in history seeing as it massacred a sixth of the world’s population. Others may point to the Mongol Conquests in 13th Century where over 40 million were killed in various wars. Before taking Scilla’s words as gospel, I may need to ask her some awkward questions.
In Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America, Ward Churchill said, “The desire for a nonviolent and cooperative world is the healthiest of all psychological manifestations. This is the overarching principle of liberation and revolution. Undoubtedly, it seems the highest order of contradiction that, in order to achieve nonviolence, we must first break with it in overcoming its root causes. Therein lies our only hope.”
For Scilla’s outlook on violence, there is only one conclusion. The correct conclusion for Scilla is whatever works for Scilla. Despite the fatal flaws in her “case” for nonviolence, I have absolutely no problem with her approach. Scilla is a devout believer in her religion of nonviolence. That’s great. But to her and all other believers of all other dogmatic religions I say, “Don’t tell me what I have to believe. You’re not me, and I’m not you. I may see things differently, and that’s okay.” And frankly, the less homogeneous our efforts to resist, the better the chances they will succeed. William Cowper said, “Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought diversity to be the very thing that makes this world so beautiful.