The recent invasion of Charlottesville, Virginia, by Neo-Nazis, KKK members, and other white supremacists, and the various response tactics by counter-protesters, have been the subject of intense examination in the days following. This conversation is difficult and necessary. Especially for those who espouse non-violence as the only moral response to hatred and injustice, serious questions have been raised and must at least be examined, if not answered.
My first thought was of the similarities between the current debate over tactics and the tensions of the Civil Rights era, exemplified by the competing views of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Both were sons of Baptist ministers, but their life paths took very different directions. King was relatively sheltered from the worst abuses of racial segregation. He had opportunity for education and became a minister himself. Malcolm’s father moved the family from Nebraska to Michigan because of threats from the KKK, but their new home was burned and his father brutally murdered by whites. During a stint in jail Malcolm was converted to Islam and became a leader in the Black Muslim faith, then later turned to traditional Sunni Islam.