This is an excerpt from the chapter titled "Civil War":
What I have tried to capture in excerpts from the previous articles is that there are groups both on the far-right and others which have no true allegiance, that are trying to ignite America’s next civil war. Both these groups have figured out that the target most ripe for this type of national upheaval is race relations. Dylann Roof thought that the killing of black church members in several churches might start such a war. Kevin Piner, one of the three Wilmington, N.C. officers fired for using racial slurs, was accidentally being recorded when he “predicted Black Lives Matter protests would soon lead to civil war. ‘I’m ready,’ Piner told another officer, adding that he planned to buy an assault rifle.” (Elfrink, ‘We are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them’: Three cops fired after racist talk of killing black residents, 2020)
One of the statistics cited was that “White vigilantes and far-right actors have shown up to oppose Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. at least 497 times this year.” The data documents a staggering amount of violence directed at protesters by the far-right, including 64 cases of simple assault, 38 incidents of vigilantes driving cars into demonstrators, and nine times shots were fired at protesters. All told, six protesters were hit by vigilante bullets in this summer’s violence. Three died from their wounds.”
It was also noted above that President Trump and his administration continue to blame “radical left-wing groups like Antifa for stoking violence. To date, out of more than 70 people arrested on federal charges, not a single case has been tied to Antifa.” But what if what the president has been misrepresenting to be true actually came true? What if Black Lives Matter and other “radical left” protesters matched the far right’s (III Percenters, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and white nationalists) lead and increasingly showed up with weapons? The answer, civil war. Dr. King predicted a similar outcome if the Church, in particular the white Church, in America, did not support his efforts to keep civil rights protests non-violent.
“My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities ‘unwise and untimely.’…
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative…
You may well ask: ‘Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?’ You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth…
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured…
You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of ‘somebodiness’ that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible ‘devil.’
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the ‘do nothingism’ of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as ‘rabble rousers’ and ‘outside agitators’ those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies-a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent-and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?” (King, 1963)
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