Originally posted at http://thebrokenwindow.blogspot.com/
Nonviolence doesn't make sense for anyone except those committed to a particular set of ethics for a defined purpose. What non-violence does is it refuses to make an issue about dignity or human rights into a political power struggle. Issues like these should not, must not, be about who has the political power to achieve their ends. The idea is to appeal to the moral consciousness of the people who ARE in power to help them recognize an injustice. It is a legitimate tool of minority groups in achieving legitimate ends, but it is contingent upon those in power recognizing the injustice and being willing to forfeit their priviledges in order to bring about justice. This requires a common sense of morality, dignity, and rights. Nonviolence is an ineffective means when used to achieve priviledge, favor, or unjust ends. It is likewise ineffective if the consciousness of those in power is seared and moral appeals are unheeded.
Dr. King said it well when quoting Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Nonviolence therefore dignifies both the protester and those whom he is protesting against.