In “A History of (Non)Violence” (March 2015), Lisa Sharon Harper provides important insights into how the word “violence” is sometimes misused. She’s right. To call the Montgomery bus boycott “violence” because it created economic hardship for the bus company is a stretch. Her concerns also prompt me to see violence in the growth of Israeli walls that separate Palestinian homes from their crop land.
However, her lumping all police-involved shootings together, then lumping them with vigilante killings, is violence against truth. If we’re to confront the tragedy of police-involved shootings, we must be careful enough to see them individually—and then respond with discriminating precision to them individually. Truth is found not in facile generalizations or undisciplined demonstrations but in careful discernment.
William A. McCartney