August 12, 2008

Should Natives kill to save trees?

In the Conventions Pollute the Air thread, we've been debating violence vs. nonviolence. Commenter KF got the ball rolling when he said Natives should kill to defend trees:[I]f you are being raped (like the great forests in the world)...would you want me to:

1) call the police
2) meditate and send loving thoughts to your rapist
3) hit the rapist with a crowbar

Myself, I would choose #3.
Read the comments if you want to familiarize yourself with the debate. Otherwise, let's plunge in with my latest response:

Ends justify the means?

Re what I should've asked about supporting the Iraqis against imperialism: Go ahead and answer the question I actually asked. Do the ends ever justify the means? Do they justify the means in the case of Bush's invasion of Iraq?

You ask if it's legitimate for the Iraqis to fight back? Well, at first it was understandable and predictable. When the US was acting as an occupying force, was taking sides in the internecine warfare, and didn't have the approval of a legitimate Iraqi government, the reprisals even may have been "legitimate."

But things have changed. Now there is a legitimate Iraqi government asking for the troops to stay (for another 16 months, at least). And the US is (more) clearly keeping the peace rather than taking sides. If it was ever "legitimate" to kill Americans in self-defense, that rationale has disappeared or is disappearing quickly.

And again, we're not talking about defending yourself or your land. We're talking about defending trees that don't belong to you, as you've admitted. Since there's no self-defense in this case, there's no legitimate excuse for violence. Not until you've explored all other options, anyway.

Gandhi, King, and the pope

Re my quoting the pope: Pope John Paul II didn't countenance the slave trade, collaborate with the Nazis, or molest children. The fact that his predecessors did bad things doesn't implicate him personally. Therefore, your comment is irrelevant.

I've already told you what the rational solution to your problem is. Here, read it again: nonviolent protests, boycotts, and other concerted actions. These techniques worked for Gandhi and King, so they should work for tree-huggers. If they don't, then we can consider hitting the "rapists" with crowbars.

Re "you have no idea what it means to love something with so much passion": Spare me the amateur psychoanalysis. You love your self-justifications for committing violence. I love peace. I suspect I'd defend seeking peaceful solutions as passionately as you'd defend beating and killing people for the sake of someone's trees.

Re my debunking of the frat-kid e-mail: Are you a tree, bright boy? Unless you are, you have no excuse for committing violence against people who "rape forests." Again, self-defense means defending yourself, not defending someone else's property. The sooner you learn that, the better.

Bin Laden, Bush, and you

Everyone who commits violence first thinks they have a legitimate reason to do so. Hitler, Bin Laden, and Bush did and you do too. In terms of stupidly rationalizing your thuggery, you're just like them.

Nonviolent protests--including words, letters, and blog postings--have had an effect in countless causes. They've succeeded many times when violence wasn't necessary and probably would've been counterproductive. For instance, they've convinced people to start taking global warming seriously. They've coaxed courts to legalize gay marriage in some states. They've eliminated Indian mascots at hundreds of schools.

Clearly you need an education in nonviolent methods of protest. Give me a situation where you think violence is necessary--a situation not involving legitimate self-defense--and I'll explain why it isn't.

For more on the subject, see Winning Through Nonviolence.


dmarks said...

"I love peace. I suspect I'd defend seeking peaceful solutions as passionately as you'd defend beating and killing people for the sake of someone's trees."

I wonder if every person who advocates mayhem and violence against people over "saving trees" lives a lifestyle free of paper and wood. If not, they are hypocrites: assaulting people for the crime of doing what they do themselves.

Just like the PETA activists who have leather shoes.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Um, er, uh, dMarks, what are your shoes made of?
Iraq was a stable nation under the thumb of an admitted military dictator. The warlords within that nation were prevented from controlling the factions there between Shiites and Kurds and so forth. Libyans threatened the life of Pres. Bush I; his son, upon becoming Pres. Bush II, made it his design to punish Arabs for such an attempt. Then 9/11 occurred, and all bets were off. Though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, too bad for them. The US of A invaded and we still are there. There are more people in Iraq then there are trees, but we are killing them anyway. Will Bush II's legacy be that he was trying to save the trees?
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

One could argue that some trees (and the corresponding wood and paper products) are better than others. As many environmentalists would agree, cutting old-growth forests is bad. Cutting second-growth forests, especially if they're part of a sustainable economic model, is acceptable.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Yes, Rob, you hit it. BUT -- what happened to the supremely vast forests that covered the eastern coasts of the USA before 1492? Oops...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

For the most part, white men cut them down. So what's your point? Should Indians have defended these forests with their lives?