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Homestead is discussed to be one of the most controversial issues in agitational politics involves the use of violence. In American history, for example, many social protest movements have advocated or even employed violence as a means to achieving their particular political objectives. This has also been the case in many other countries throughout the world. The outcome has frequently involved riots, injuries, and even deaths (see, for a comprehensive view, the book entitled AMERICAN VIOLENCE by Richard Hofstadter and Michael Wallace).
Imagine the following discussion among three students after class:
Student 1: “We can never justify or condone violence. I understand and totally sympathize with the striking workers at Homestead and I condemn the violence against them by the Pinkertons. But they and everyone else attacked in America must resist these assaults attacks as vigorously as possible, but they need to do must do so with increased boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, and other collective actions. The nonviolent civil rights movement years later showed the way! As hard as it may be, they must refrain from hating their enemies. If they use guns or other violent means, they only lower themselves to the state of their oppressors. Violence only leads to greater violence!”
Student 2: “Violence is regrettable, but sometimes people have no choice. They must reluctantly arm themselves in case of violent attacks, as in the case of the Pinkertons in Homestead. But they must never initiate the violence, but only use weapons or other physical force in self-defense when their lives or personal safety is in jeopardy. Violence is only justifiable as a last resort. Homestead was the perfect example. It was no time for utopian talk about love and nonviolence!”
Student 3: “The workers at Homestead and everyone else who is oppressed should not be afraid to fight back with the same weapons that their vicious adversaries use. Why should they put themselves at a major disadvantage? They should even initiate the violence if they know that attacks are coming. Let them strike first for a change. This will finally show that they are deadly serious about their goal to eliminate oppression and industrial injustice in this nation. So, my view goes beyond self-defense. If absolutely necessary, victims of deep oppression should be encouraged to use preemptive violence.”
Which specific student (or any combination you desire) do you support? Why? In expressing your response, you need to develop a substantial argument defending your particular position. The essays by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in The Sixties Papers are relevant sources for this prompt. If you use sources or examples from outside these materials, be sure to describe them adequately. State a specific thesis at the outset of your answer.
1: never use violence
2: regrettable but sometimes you should do it
3: never ok
– 6 pages double spaced
– sources are not mandatory but ok to use (cite if used)
– ok to use “I” in paper