Craig Rosebraugh delivered a lecture to an overflow crowd at the Laughing Horse Bookstore tonight. Folks were packed in as tight as sardines, and spilled out onto the sidewalk, but listened in rapt silence as Craig shared his thoughts and research from the work he has recently done on his Master's thesis. A sense of occasion unmistakably permeated the room, and Craig did not disappoint. I missed the first part of his three part lecture because I couldn't get in, but I managed to squeak in for parts two and three. Way in the back, I took notes as furiously as I could, but was unable to keep up with his quick pace, so I don't have much to share at this time. Fortunately the audio from the full lecture was captured and will be uploaded to the internet sometime in the next day or two. As soon as it is, a link will be posted here to portland indymedia, so check back for it. |
Craig is a good public speaker. There was not a single "um" in the entire evening that I heard. You could tell he's been writing on these subjects a lot because of the many nice, tight phrases that he used. I had my eyes opened to some history I didn't know, and some concepts I'd considered, but not heard out loud (at least not so eloquently). He made no call for "violent revolution" and I don't know if that disappointed the cop in the room. (There was at least one, of course.) He shared the facts he'd found, and some insights he'd arrived at, but made no specific prescription for action. Nonetheless, the radical perspective he brought was refreshing in these peacenik-ridden times, when a call goes out for 100 peacekeepers but not one cop-watcher. (See Ward Churchill's "Pacifism as Pathology" for more on this topic.)
One thing he mentioned that made me think was the idea that non-violence will only work against an opponent who has "a healthy working conscience, decency and compassion" and can thus realize the error of their ways. Not all opponents will have this, and Craig named Hitler as an example of someone in the irredeemable category. The political violence that was used by the Allied Powers to stop his evil has never been questioned. Is Bush in that category? Is Capitalism? These are questions to consider.
From that same time period, Craig also cited the Jews who, on their way to the gas chambers, attacked their guards in an attempt to save their own lives. This was a situation where people turned to violent tactics because their own lives were threatened and they felt they had no other option. Are we at a point where the imminent destruction of the environment is leaving us with no other options but violence? Again, this is a question to consider. Craig offered no answer to either of these questions, and neither does this reporter, but I believe they are important to consider. The violence/non-violence discussion that keeps cropping up often spirals into speculative "what-ifs" without considering these, and other, important historical examples.
(BTW, Craig also quoted MLK and Gandhi speaking about the importance of self-defense, and the possible practicality of violence in the process of social change; it's interesting how the peaceniks ignore certains parts of the histories of these two icons when they don't come into focus with their fear-induced myopia.)
I, and other people, were left with a lot to think about. Craig brought the violence debate into new territory and raised some very challenging concepts. He didn't pretend to know the answers, but he certainly wasn't afraid of the questions, and that was great to see.
The three images accompanying this article are the notes Craig posted for people to reference as he spoke. They're kinda big, I know, but I wanted people to be able to read them.
[ Original event annoucement (worth a re-read) ]