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Obama’s parallel between the Palestinians and Black America was an attempt to credit nonviolence as the prime mover in the civil rights movement. The president conveniently forgets the “burn, baby, burn”, by any means possible mayhem that helped loosen the White establishment’s hold on power. Christopher Caldwell observes:

Mr Obama’s criticism of terrorism is two-pronged. On the one hand he sees terrorism as morally wrong, and here he was most eloquent: “It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus,” he said. On the other hand, he sees terrorism as ineffective, and here he is far less persuasive. “For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation,” Mr Obama said. “But it was not violence that won full and equal rights.”

You can say it was not violence alone that won black people their rights. But an American should not need reminding that the US civil war – fought over nothing but slavery and its constitutional implications – was spectacularly bloody, complete with starvation camps, torched cities and actual terrorism, too. Even the last century’s civil rights movement required not just the marches of Martin Luther King, but federal troops.

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One Comment

  1. For the very first time I actually agree with Obama. By Caldwells logic peace is obtained by the stronger force putting their heal to the neck (starvation camps, burning cities and occupying the invaded land) of the weaker force for a hundred years. Ugh! Lets see the stronger force here would be Israel, so they should invade Palestine, burn their cities and occupy their land for another 50 years. I don’t think that is the current Obama Middle-east Peace Plan (maybe the Israelis peace paln though).

    Obama is actually right here (did I say that?) it is not violence that wins in the end. The US civil war was a tragedy where American killed Americans. Slavery was a tragedy as well and no where else in the world was it ended by such a bloody means. Britain had slaves as well as the US, slavery ended by the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. It was a sane non-violent way of ending slavery in Britain. Non-violence wins every time, we change hearts and then we change minds. Violence only deepens the divide, so I applaud President Obama for taking the path of Martin Luther King and ask why the hell are we still in Iraq and Afghanistan then?


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