Journalists loved Antifa. Now they’ve turned on them.

Summary: Antifa has been in the news. After Charlottesville came waves of propaganda from news media to justify or outright hide the violence from the Left. After the August 27 Berkeley riot, journalists turned on Antifa. Was this a turning point in America’s descent to Weimerica-type street violence?

AntiFascist march
Antifa at anniversary of the Cronulla race riots, Dec 2015. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen.

Journalists “whitewashing” Antifa.

For a year the news media have shown us Antifa only through a soft lens, with their bizarre justifications accepted without question.

(1)  “Anti-Fascists Will Fight Trump’s Fascism in the Streets” By Natasha Lennard in The Nation, 19 January 2017 — “In stark contrast with many liberals, antifa activists refuse any dialogue with Trumpism.”

(2)  “Yes, Anti-Fascists Are Violent and Necessary” by Michael Harriot at The Root, 16 August 2017.

(3)  “Unmasking the leftist Antifa movement” by Sara Ganim and Chris Welch at CNN, 22 August 2017. It is a news story, not an op-ed.

“Antifa activists, who operate without any centralized leadership, told CNN that their goal is peace and inclusivity. They often denounce capitalism and government. …And their methods are often violent. Antifa leaders admit they’re willing to physically attack anyone who employs violence against them or who condones racism — as long as force is used in the name of eradicating hatred.”

(4)  Mark Bary (Professor of history at Dartmouth) plays the classic role of moderate apologist and propagandist for Antifa. Useful idiot or dissembling true believer? Journalists gave him interviews with softball questions about Antifa’s violence and totalitarian beliefs.

Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook
Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook

(a)  “Antifa Violence is Ethical? This Author Explains Why” by Benjy Sarlin at NBC News, 26 August 2017. A news story, not an op-ed. Sarlin asks softball questions and does not point out that Bray advocates the same behavior as the fascists he opposes.

Professor Mark Bray, a historian at Dartmouth, has tried to fill the gap in his new book, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, that chronicles its rise. While Bray doesn’t participate in the group’s protests, he nonetheless considers himself an ally. …Bray talked to NBC News about the antifa movement — and the role violence plays within it — on Thursday. …

Sarlin: You wrote in your book: “At the heart of the anti-fascist outlook is a rejection of the classical liberal phrase incorrectly ascribed to Voltaire that says I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” What do you mean by that?

Bray: Anti-fascists are illiberal. They don’t see fascism or white supremacy as a view with which they disagree as a difference of opinion. They view organizing against them as a political struggle where the goal is not to establish a regime of rights that allow neo-Nazis and victims to coexist and exchange discourse, but rather the goal is to end their politics. …

Sarlin: To zero in a bit, though: Your book references actions targeting actual neo-Nazi groups, who were very visible in Charlottesville, but also general clashes with police and property damage as means of protest, like at the Berkeley rally which was about a controversial speaker. Doesn’t that extend the lens?

Bray: Antifa are revolutionaries and they are almost always anti-police. That’s partly why they organize how they do: If they were pro-police they’d be more inclined to say, ‘Hey, police, why don’t you take care of this.’ But as anti-capitalist with a sort of police-abolitionist lens, they view the police as problems, as defenders of the capitalist order, and also all too often as sympathizers with the far right. So they view both sides as being opponents, but once again opposition to police is fairly clear cut and comes from a political tradition stretching back 200 years — so it’s not arbitrary, even if you disagree with it.

You also mentioned property destruction. Yeah, property destruction is certainly part of the repertoire of what some of these groups will do to achieve their goals. Some say it’s violence, some say it’s not because it’s not against human beings, that’s a matter of opinion.

Sarlin: You write that violence represents a “small though vital sliver of anti-fascist activity” and you mention that it’s not the only thing they’re up to. But what makes it so vital?

Bary: Even if a group does not intend for that to be the way to go about it, if you’re organizing against violent fascists, being able to defend yourselves can unfortunately come in handy. …

Sarlin: Do you consider Trump one of those emergency moments where potentially more violent tactics are necessary?

Bray: The anti-fascist argument is that any amount of white supremacist or neo-Nazi organizing is worthy of emergency consideration — by no means can we allow this to take one step farther. Trump in office obviously from their perspective exacerbates this situation and empowers them and helps them to grow, but even if Hillary Clinton were in office, anti-fascists would still want to block the advance of …any of these kind of small little Nazi groups. …

Sarlin: So basically, you don’t want to take a clear position on that specific distinction (between self defense and preemptive attack).

Bray:  In the abstract. I’m going to leave it at that if you don’t mind.

(b)  “An Intimate History of Antifa” by Daniel Penny at The New Yorker, 22 August 2017. This is a display of obliviousness by Professor Bray (see below), amazing if in fact sincere. Reverse “Antifa” and “Fascists” and it reads the same. “According to Bray, though, antifa activists believe that Fascists forfeit their rights to speak and assemble when they deny those same rights to others through violence and intimidation.”

(c)  “The Public Face of Antifa” by Michelle Goldberg at Slate, 22 August 2017 — “Daryle Jenkins has stepped up to explain the shadowy group’s violent tactics to a wary world. It’s not easy.” Only deep in the article comes the first mention of violence, with a soft-focus: “It’s certainly true that antifa refuses to eschew violence.” Even so, it’s a revealing interview.

(d)  “They have no allegiance to liberal democracy”: an expert on antifa explains the group” by  Sean Illing at Vox, 25 August 2017 — “Why a loose network of militant activists is confronting fascists.”

(5)  Todd Gitlin’s op-ed in the NYT: “Who’s Afraid of Antifa?”  A coy defense of street violence. Just as the Right does, violence is described as the other side’s fault (or the police’s fault).

“…antifa fights back, and although not murderous, is not squeamish about its means. Considering normal political action hopeless, some antifa activists claim inspiration from the left-wing paramilitaries of Weimar Germany and from the Black Panther Party. … So does the potential for armed clashes, especially in open-carry states. If the police do not act astutely, armed showdowns could develop.”

Result: political violence works for the Left

Antifa riots. So officials limit right-wing events (e.g., Boston’s permit was only for 100 people) — or urge their outright suppression. As in this Orwellian speech

“In the aftermath of a right-wing rally Sunday that ended with anarchists chasing attendees from a downtown park, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin urged UC Berkeley on Monday to cancel conservatives’ plans for a Free Speech Week next month to avoid making the city the center of more violent unrest. ‘I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,’ said Arreguin … The mayor wants UC Berkeley to halt plans by a conservative campus group, the Berkeley Patriot, to host right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos during its scheduled Free Speech Week from Sept. 24-27.”

Other perspectives on Antifa.

(a)  Turn to the BBC for real news.

Antifa: Left-wing militants on the rise” by Brenna Cammeron, 14 August 2017. A balanced, more or less, look at Antifa.

“A rare voice from liberals against the violence: “The Rise of the Violent Left” by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic, September 2017 — “Antifa’s activists say they’re battling burgeoning authoritarianism on the American right. Are they fueling it instead?” Conclusion of the article…

“Antifa believes it is pursuing the opposite of authoritarianism. Many of its activists oppose the very notion of a centralized state. But in the name of protecting the vulnerable, antifascists have granted themselves the authority to decide which Americans may publicly assemble and which may not. That authority rests on no democratic foundation. Unlike the politicians they revile, the men and women of antifa cannot be voted out of office. Generally, they don’t even disclose their names. …

“Revulsion, fear, and rage are understandable. But one thing is clear. The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets of Portland may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies.”

(b)  Update: Even Berkeley’s mayor has turned against Antifa.

CBS News 5 KPIX: “A large number of masked Antifa activists were seen jumping the barriers at a largely peaceful demonstration in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Civic Center Park on Sunday. Some began attacking Trump supporters at the rally. …KPIX 5 news crews observed that most of the conservative demonstrators in the park were Trump supporters who repeatedly denounced Nazis and racists.” …{Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley’ mayor, spoke about} the black-clad activists who showed up in force and took over both the protests and the park.”

“I think we should classify them as a gang. They come dressed in uniforms. They have weapons, almost like a militia and I think we need to think about that in terms of our law enforcement approach. … I think we are going to have to think ‘big picture’ about what is the strategy for how we are going to deal with these violent elements on the left as well. …We also need to hold accountable and encourage people not to associate with these extremists because it empowers them and gives them cover.”

CBS also noted two other statements by the major that in effect supported Antifa’s violence. “And while it didn’t look good, the mayor also praised Berkeley police for holding back and ceding the park to the anarchists when the group jumped the barriers. …the mayor also called on UC Berkeley to call off next month’s Free Speech Week featuring Milo Yiannopoulos.”

Berkeley on August 27: a possible milestone.

(1)  San Francisco Chronicle: “Police at Berkeley protest say they backed off as a safety decision“. Opening…

“The decision by police to step aside and allow black-clad demonstrators to take over Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Sunday was based on the safety of officers and protesters, a spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police Department said.

“For hours, some 400 law enforcement officers from Berkeley, Oakland, UC Berkeley and Alameda County had control of the scene at the park, stopping anyone who entered at a single checkpoint, where they confiscated anything on a list of banned objects, including skateboards, eggs and any items that could be used as weapons. But shortly after the scheduled 1 p.m. start time of an anti-Marxism rally, hundreds of black-masked agitators arrived at the scene. Rather than trying to take on the horde, the clearly overwhelmed police force allowed hundreds of people to pass barriers and enter the park unchecked.”

(2)  The results were ugly, as Antifa beat up the right-wing protesters. The “peaceful” leftists cheered Antifa’s violence. For the first time, journalists accurately report events.Even Shane Bauer, a journalist at Mother Jones, reports the news.

(3)  “Black-clad antifa members attack peaceful right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley” by Kyle Swenson at WaPo.

“Their faces hidden behind black bandannas and hoodies, about 100 anarchists and antifa— “anti-fascist” — members barreled into a protest Sunday afternoon in Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. Jumping over plastic and concrete barriers, the group melted into a larger crowd of around 2,000 that had marched peacefully throughout the sunny afternoon for a “Rally Against Hate” gathering.

“Shortly after, violence began to flare. A pepper-spray-wielding Trump supporter was smacked to the ground with homemade shields. Another was attacked by five black-clad antifa members, each windmilling kicks and punches into a man desperately trying to protect himself. A conservative group leader retreated for safety behind a line of riot police as marchers chucked water bottles, shot off pepper spray and screamed, ‘Fascist go home!'”

(4)  AP: “Black-clad anarchists swarm anti-hate rally in California.

“Six people suffered injuries, including two who were hospitalized, and one officer was injured while making an arrest and several others were hit with paint. There were 13 arrests on various charges including, assault with a deadly weapon. …

“They pepper-sprayed {Joey Gibson, leader of the right-wing organization Patriot Prayer} and chased him as he backed away with his hands held in the air. …Separately, groups of hooded, black-clad protesters attacked at least four other men in or near the park, kicking and punching them until the assaults were stopped by police. The assaults were witnessed by an Associated Press reporter.”

(5)  Clip is from live chopper feed by KCRA news in Berkeley. “No cops seen; this is Antifa.”

(6)  Frank Somerville, anchor at Bay Area KTVU, reported what he saw at the scene. It’s well worth reading.

“I experienced hate first hand today.
It came from these people dressed in all black at a protest in Berkeley.
Ironically they were all chanting about NO hate. …”

(7)  The LAT Editorial Board speaks up: “Violent demonstrators in Berkeley are thugs, not activists“, 29 August 2017.

(8)  “The case against antifa” by German Lopez at Vox, 29 August 2017 — The anti-fascist movement often deploys violence in its protests, and that could seriously backfire.”

News

Conclusions

Antifa has benefited from favorable treatment by journalists, a fantastic advantage in their struggle with the far right. But that might have ended. If so, that might encourage the police to do their job — which is the essential step to ending the rise of political violence in America.

For More Information

Update!  Politico posts news of US security services long and rising concern about violence between US political extremists: “FBI, Homeland Security warn of more ‘antifa’ attacks” by Josh Meyer, 1 Sept — “Confidential documents call the anarchists that seek to counter white supremacists ‘domestic terrorists.’ ” It is a detailed and balanced story (more so than the headline implies).

For more about this problem see Fear the rise of political violence in America. We can still stop it.

If you found this post of use, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also see these posts about political violenceabout racismabout fascism, about reforming America – steps to a new politics, and especially these…

  1. Fear the rise of political violence in America. We can still stop it.
  2. Terrorism won yesterday in Berkeley and Portland. See these important stories.
  3. How the Left sees its political violence: as innocents victimized.
  4. The Right began the current cycle of political violence in America.
  5. See the facts about the Charlottesville riot. You decide what they mean.
  6. Important: A simple solution to the political violence afflicting America — Maintaining public order is a primary job of the police. Allowing political violence on the streets puts America on the fast track to hell.
Dick Schumann: Political Violence in the Weimar Republic 1918-1933: Battles for the Streets and Fears of Civil War
Available at Amazon.

A reminder from the past.

Let’s not follow the path taken by the Weimar Republic, with its street battles between thuggish armies of Communists and Nazis. It did not end well for them, and won’t end well for us. To see this sad but useful history I recommend Political Violence in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933: Fight for the Streets and Fear of Civil War by Dirk Schumann (Professor of History at Georg-August University, Göttingen), 2009. From the publisher…

“This book provides a comprehensive analysis of political violence in Weimar Germany with particular emphasis on the political culture from which it emerged. It refutes both the claim that the Bolshevik revolution was the prime cause of violence, and the argument that the First World War’s all-encompassing ‘brutalization’ doomed post-1918 German political life from the very beginning. The study thus contributes to a view of the Weimar Republic as a state in severe crisis but with alternatives to the Nazi takeover.”

23 thoughts on “Journalists loved Antifa. Now they’ve turned on them.

  1. Is all that’s going on here really surprising when the corporate-owned media gives us only information with either a far-left or far-right viewpoint? It seems as though there is a “divide and conquer” strategy in play here.

    1. pgrommit,

      You go to the heart of the matter, asking the most difficult of questions: “Why”? I don’t know the answer. You might very well be right.

      My guess — emphasis on guess — is that the news is market result of an interplay of forces. Corporate control is big, as is the personal attitudes and politics of journalists. But the wants of the audience is also important (our attention is the product they sell). And let’s not forget the power of their corporate customers (aka advertisers) or sponsors (for plutocrat-supported media) — piss them off and the doors soon close.

    2. The populist Republicans were the first to denounce Antifa. Now the establishment Democrats have turned on Antifa. But where are the establishment Republicans, both outside and inside the Trump administration? Still defending Antifa, that’s where.

      NANCY PELOSI DENOUNCES LEFTIST ANTIFA, CALLS FOR PROSECUTION” by Liam Clancey at WND — “Has GOP members wondering where statements are from top Republicans.”

      Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats denounced the far-left Antifa after its members attacked a conservative protest in Berkeley, California, even as some top Republicans justified their violence. “Our democracy has no room for inciting violence or endangering the public, no matter the ideology of those who commit such acts,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The violent actions of people calling themselves antifa in Berkeley this weekend deserve unequivocal condemnation, and the perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted.” …

      Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, a Democrat, also joined in to criticize Antifa, calling for authorities to label them a “gang.” “I think we should classify them as a gang,” Arreguin said. “They come dressed in uniforms. They have weapons, almost like a militia and I think we need to think about that in terms of our law enforcement approach.” …

      Now that Antifa has been thoroughly denounced by both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the far-left mayor of Berkeley himself, conservative commentators are beginning to question why many top Republicans won’t weigh in. WND reported previously on the Republicans who were silent or justified antifa violence, including Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan.

      “Paul Ryan’s silence on the unhinged, violent alt-left group known as ‘Antifa’ is in my view, and in most American’s view, a tacit endorsement of the group and their tactics,” Paul Nehlen, a pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress who is challenging Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st district told WND. “Paul Ryan went out of his way to call out violence from the right, and he has also gone out of his way to ignore violence on the left,” Nehlen added. …Ryan previously condemned President Trump’s “both sides” comment on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparking criticism from some conservatives. “We all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis. We cannot allow the slightest ambiguity on such a fundamental question,” Ryan said.

      Trump’s National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn praised Antifa, calling them “citizens standing up for equality and freedom.”

    3. Glenn,

      (1) GOP leaders have denounced Antifa.

      (2) WND is a source of disinformation. You should believe nothing you read there without confirming it first. Note when they make claims without providing a supporting link. That often flags lies in progress. Take the claim at the end about Gary Cohen. What did really say? The quote is from the transcript of an interview with the Financial Times on 24 August 2017. WND lied to you. I hope you learn something from this. Excerpt:

      FT: Did you consider resigning after Charlottesville?

      GC: I have come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position. As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post as director of the National Economic Council because I feel a duty to fulfil my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks. 

      Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK. I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities. As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting “Jews will not replace us” to cause this Jew to leave his job. I feel deep empathy for all who have been targeted by these hate groups. We must all unite together against them.

      I’ll bet most Americans — almost all Americans — believe peaceful protests against Neo-Nazis are commendable. Marches thru the streets shouting anti-semitic and Nazi slogans are constitutionally protected, but scum none the less. It’s mad to conflate people protesting against Nazis with violent Antifa thugs.

    4. Editor said:

      GOP leaders have denounced Antifa.

      Speaking of those who “make claims without providing a supporting link,” can you provide supporting links to where establishment Republicans — Paul Ryan, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake — have condemned Antifa as unequivocably and as resoundingly as what Pelosi and Arreguin have?

    5. Glenn,

      (1) “Speaking of those who “make claims without providing a supporting link,” ”

      I assume you are kidding us, holding articles to the same standards as comments. The first should be well documented — as is my post. Unlike comments, which almost nobody reads.

      (2) “can you provide supporting links to where establishment Republicans — Paul Ryan, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake”

      So you want links on five people. Don’t you feel shame asking for more documentation when you ignore the research I just did on a claim in the WND article you cited?

    6. Editor said:

      So you want links on five people. Don’t you feel shame asking for more documentation when you ignore the research I just did on a claim in the WND article you cited?

      So in other words you can’t provide supporting links to where establishment Republicans — Paul Ryan, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake — have condemned Antifa as unequivocably and as resoundingly as what Pelosi and Arreguin have?

  2. Editor,

    Your reply to pgrommit is spot-on! I made a similar comment in the comment section on the site of a West Coast Newspaper “report” on Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer which they labeled as “Right-Wing Extremist. For me the jury is still out. I saw a TV interview of him by a Bay Area station and he did well. He showed self discipline and sef control.

    Mr. Gibson and Patriot Prayer do not want anything to do with White Supremacists, White Nationalists or NeoNazis. They are strictly Pro-Constitution, especially Pro 1st Ammendment. The NAZIS and ilk crash Patriot Prayer events like AntiFa.

    AntiFa is Anarcho/Communist. They are made up of groups like Communist Youth League, American Communist Party, Socialist Internationale, Socialist Workers Party, etc.

    I am not a journalist but I have seen those pikers who consider themselves such among the throngs. ACLU and activist “lawyers” are also in the mix.

    Yes Sir, I’ve seen it up close and personal.

    Your article today is heartening.

    Thank you and thanks to the commenters for their astute observations.

    1. Longtrail said:

      Mr. Gibson and Patriot Prayer do not want anything to do with White Supremacists, White Nationalists or NeoNazis.

      Here’s Joey Gibson and associated activists in a press conference:

      BREAKING NEWS: Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson URGENT Press Conference Regarding SF Free Speech Rally

  3. Editor,

    Thanks for that video. This is why I now watch from a long distance.

    What cowards. How gutless. How stupid. I ran into some kids like that a couple of days ago. They have no respect for the Law and no manners. They are “Lord of the Flies” Barbarians!

    AND AGAIN! WHERE WERE THE COPS!?

    Why is it this type of crap is happening in states and jurisdictions controlled by Democrats?

    They are the Vanguard of the Social Marxist Plutocracy.

    Oh, there I go again with that word I learned from you!

  4. Their degrees are worthless and they have huge college debt. Who are they going to take their anger out on? Themselves? Their profs? Their peers who are also in the same sinking boat?
    Beating up people who come pre-dehumanized is more fun.

  5. Whatever the side protesters are on, or whatever the ideology they advocate, as soon as violence and intimidation come into play, not to mention property damage, the cops need to step in and break it up and they need to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    If people know they are going to be stopped, arrested or even hurt they will think twice about trying to cause a riot. Violence is literally the line between protected speech and a crime. Not to mention that as FM says, the more these clashes are allowed to continue the more the perception of weakness in our government and institutions increases, that will only embolden more extremism and violence.

    1. dfocil said:

      …as soon as violence and intimidation come into play, not to mention property damage, the cops need to step in and break it up and they need to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible.

      I agree, but the trouble is when the police do this a lot of peaceful, innocent protesters get swept up in the “stepping in and breaking up.” Case in point, listen to the complaints of the anti-Trump protesters at the Phoenix city council meeting yesterday (beginning here at Minute 05:50:55). Dare I say that some of them had legitimate complaints?

      I don’t know what the solution is. These are wicked problems.

    2. Glenn,

      Yes, that is a problem. But not one I have much sympathy for.

      (1) Event organizers too often make little effort when in planning and publicity to discourage violent protestors.

      (2) At the event they often protest or even resist police efforts to weed out those dressed and armed for violence.

      (3) Large number of people come expressly to watch the violence. When the violence starts they watch instead of leaving. In every video of violence large numbers of people are visible gawking at the violence. If they get swept up in the police dragnet, that not a lesson learned for them. They claim that like men caught in raids on whorehouses, they were just there to watch. Color me unsympathetic.

      When violent protestors know they will be gassed and thrown in jail, they’ll find other ways to enjoy themselves. Then America can again have peaceful protests.

      Note that the organizers of the great Civil Rights marches devoted considerable time and effort to making them peaceful (on their side, at least).

    3. Editor said:

      Yes, that is a problem. But not one I have much sympathy for.

      I agree. I suppose we both borrowed a page out of the book of the Realists, and not the Romantics?

      All social co-operation on a larger scale than the most intimate social group requires a measure of coercion. While no state can maintain its unity purely by coercion neither can it preserve itself without coercion. Where the factor of mutual consent is strongly developed, and where standardized and approximately fair methods of adjudicating and resolving conflicting interests within an organized group have been established, the coercive factor in social life is frequently covert, and becomes apparent only in moments of crisis and in the group’s policy toward recalcitrant individuals. Yet it is never absent….

      [O]nly a romantacist of the purest water could maintain that a national group ever arrives at a “common mind” or becomes conscious of a “general will” without the use of either force or the threat of force.

      — REINHOLD NIEBUHR, Moral Man & Immoral Society

      I will stand by my Realism, but also acknowledge that it was rejected by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who adopted a Pacifistic position. To wit:

      About this time I read Niebuhr’s critique of the pacifist position. Niebuhr had himself once been a member of the pacifist ranks. For several years, he had been national chairman of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. His break with pacifism came in the early thirties, and the first full statement of his criticism of pacifism was in Moral Man and Immoral Society….

      Niebuhr began emphasizing the irresponsibility of relying on nonviolent resistance when there was no ground for believing that it would be successful in preventing the spread of totalitarian tyranny [Nazism and Communism]. It could only be successful, he argued, if the groups against whom the resistance was taking place had some degree of moral conscience, as was the case in Gandhi’s struggle against the British…

      As I continued to read, however, I came to see more and more the shortcomings of his position. For instance, many of his statements revealed that he interpreted pacifism as a sort of passive nonresistance to evil expressing naive trust in the power of love. But this was a serious distortion. My study of Gandhi convinced me that true pacifism is not nonresistance to evil, but nonviolent resistance to evil. Between the two positions, there is a world of difference. Gandhi resisted evil with as much vigor and power as the violent resister, but he resisted with love instead of hate. True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to evil power, as Niebuhr contends. It is rather a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love, in the faith that it is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflicter of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart.

      — REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., “My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence”
      http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol4/1-Sept-1958_MyPilgrimageToNonviolence.pdf

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