Without Justice There is No Peace, and We Must Remember That

You can tell a lot about a crowd by the things they do and don’t chant at a given rally. In 2016, following Hillary Clinton’s loss, the streets of Denver Colorado chanted “not my president” or “her body her choice.” Not bad, right? But when I and a group of friends began a chorus of “black lives matter” at the same rally, it didn’t catch on. We would get looks, maybe two or three supporters, then a swell of pro-choice or pro-Hillary chanting. They would shout their frustrations for Hillary Clinton but racism was apparently a bridge too far. I knew then what crowd I was in. 

My personal favorite chant goes like this. “No justice, no peace,” over and over. It’s a chant like this that the world needs to hear. But it’s just the sort of thing I’m sure would get drowned out in a crowd of well-meaning folks.

 NO JUSTICE NO PEACE, AND I MEAN THAT.

You can tell a lot about a crowd by the things they do and don’t chant at a given rally. In 2016, following Hillary Clinton’s loss, the streets of Denver Colorado chanted “not my president” or “her body her choice.” Not bad, right? But when I and a group of friends began a chorus of “black lives matter” at the same rally, it didn’t catch on. We would get looks, maybe two or three supporters, then a swell of pro-choice or pro-Hillary chanting. They would shout their frustrations for Hillary Clinton but racism was apparently a bridge too far. I knew then what crowd I was in. 

My personal favorite chant goes like this. “No justice, no peace,” over and over. It’s a chant like this that the world needs to hear. But it’s just the sort of thing I’m sure would get drowned out in a crowd of well-meaning folks.

For most people, Donald Trump is more of a psychological problem than a physical one. He’s a tangible threat, but that’s not what bothers people. Just think, what are his policy positions that bother you? The wall, with all it’s pomp and vitriol, as a psychological reminder of an inhumane America? How about the quiet but dogged and systematic removal of environmental protections? Do you hate the caging of children on the border as a stain on American idealism more than how “legal” immigration has been decimated? Are you mad that things feel bad, that the chaos of the world is spilling over into your living room every day, or are you mad about the facts on the ground? I know there are many people that feel upset about both, but I surmise many Americans are not unsettled by the injustice but by a sudden disturbance in what was once a peaceful life.

How can we know when calls for justice aren’t genuine? Part of it is the chants at protests. But another part is what makes it on television and which candidates are appealing to voters. As of now, Joe Biden is in the lead, followed by Elizabeth Warren, then Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden has promised “nothing would fundamentally change” proving to be a perfect example of my point. There is a disturbingly large amount of people content with “anyone but Trump” because they don’t care about change but simply about going back to Obama era brunch and bliss. Elizabeth Warren also reflects this ethos. Warren gives people the hope that there could be change, but she is promising to do it within Washington using the best plans and compromises. She isn’t the “yelling” old man the media has often portrayed Sanders as and she’s not demanding people become re-engaged in the political process. She’s planning on going to Washington to fight for us not with us.

Sanders, however, is the media-described “Trump of the left.” And while it’s flat wrong to compare them in demagoguery, they do share populism. Sanders is calling for a fight, promising to be in our faces asking us for something. He’s asking people to get mad, but for liberal voters who have strung themselves from one high-rage CNN headline to the next, that’s the last thing they want. People are exhausted, they want a break.

The left often totes that Obama was the least scandal-ridden president in history, and they’re right, but that does not say anything about the amount of justice achieved. Never mind that he continued mass surveillance, proliferated natural gas exploitation, was the deporter-in-chief to many, or rained hellfire on the Middle East every day of his administration. Everything was okay because nobody had to hear about it. This quiet “peace” is the goal of the modern democratic party, as Martin Luther King declared it would be long ago in his letter from a Birmingham county jail. “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice;”

The world yearns to go back to its negative peace.

The problem with this path to peace is that it will never come. Peace does not come through denial but by facing your demons and winning. America will not have peace because it does not deserve peace. Even if voters elect a peace-promising candidate, the news will still be a frenzy, the streets will be a frenzy, and the world will be a frenzy. The time is not coming where your kids can go back to school worry-free of shootings or the coming ecological collapse. That time is many years from now, and the only way it’ll come any faster is if you get to work now. Trump was elected in 2016 because all is not well on the Western front, and we can’t pretend it is. We won’t get justice, and when Trump wins in 2020, we won’t get peace either. So next time you hear me chanting, don’t ignore it, decide to join me. “No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace.”

For most people, Donald Trump is more of a psychological problem than a physical one. He’s a tangible threat, but that’s not what bothers people. Just think, what are his policy positions that bother you? The wall, with all it’s pomp and vitriol, as a psychological reminder of an inhumane America? How about the quiet but dogged and systematic removal of environmental protections? Do you hate the caging of children on the border as a stain on American idealism more than how “legal” immigration has been decimated? Are you mad that things feel bad, that the chaos of the world is spilling over into your living room every day, or are you mad about the facts on the ground? I know there are many people that feel upset about both, but I surmise many Americans are not unsettled by the injustice but by a sudden disturbance in what was once a peaceful life.

How can we know when calls for justice aren’t genuine? Part of it is the chants at protests. But another part is what makes it on television and which candidates are appealing to voters. As of now, Joe Biden is in the lead, followed by Elizabeth Warren, then Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden has promised “nothing would fundamentally change” proving to be a perfect example of my point.

There is a disturbingly large amount of people content with “anyone but Trump” because they don’t care about change but simply about going back to Obama-era brunch and bliss. Elizabeth Warren also reflects this ethos. Warren gives people the hope that there could be change, but she is promising to do it within Washington using the best plans and compromises. She isn’t the “yelling” old man the media has often portrayed Sanders as and she’s not demanding people become re-engaged in the political process. She’s planning on going to Washington to fight for us not with us.

Sanders, however, is the media-described “Trump of the left.” And while it’s flat wrong to compare them in demagoguery, they do share populism. Sanders is calling for a fight, promising to be in our faces asking us for something. He’s asking people to get mad, but for liberal voters who have strung themselves from one high-rage CNN headline to the next, that’s the last thing they want. People are exhausted, they want a break.

The left often totes that Obama was the least scandal-ridden president in history, and they’re right, but that does not say anything about the amount of justice achieved. Never mind that he continued mass surveillance, proliferated natural gas exploitation, was the deporter-in-chief to many, or rained hellfire on the Middle East every day of his administration. Everything was okay because nobody had to hear about it.

This quiet “peace” is the goal of the modern democratic party, as Martin Luther King declared it would be long ago in his letter from a Birmingham county jail. “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice;”

The world yearns to go back to its negative peace.

The problem with this path to peace is that it will never come. Peace does not come through denial but by facing your demons and winning. America will not have peace because it does not deserve peace. Even if voters elect a peace-promising candidate, the news will still be a frenzy, the streets will be a frenzy, and the world will be a frenzy. The time is not coming where your kids can go back to school worry-free of shootings or the coming ecological collapse.

That time is many years from now, and the only way it’ll come any faster is if you get to work now. Trump was elected in 2016 because all is not well on the Western front, and we can’t pretend it is. We won’t get justice, and when Trump wins in 2020, we won’t get peace either. So next time you hear me chanting, don’t ignore it, decide to join me. “No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace.”

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