Prof says 'violent or destructive' protests are justified
A professor at Loyola Marymount University recently praised “violent or destructive demonstrations” for their ability to gain public attention.
Stefan Bradley, a professor of African American Studies, argued in an essay titled “Civil Debate is Fine, Protest is Even Better” that because civil debate doesn’t “often yield just results,” violent protests are much more effective.
"The so-called marketplace of ideas only works when the opposing party is sympathetic and willing to act."
“To be sure, disruption should not be mistaken for violence, and inflicting physical harm (not counting self-defense) on opponents and property often derails a just cause,” Bradley conceded. “At times, though, it is the violent or destructive demonstrations that draw the attention of the wider public and motivates decision makers to act."
Citing the successful campaign to rename Calhoun College at Yale University, Bradley notes that dangerous protests can be effective when all else fails.
“Taking their cue from a black custodial worker…the young agitators chose disruption by blocking traffic, among other protests,” Bradley noted, praising their efforts as a just way to garner “national attention.”
Black students may be well-served by disruptive protests, he adds, especially since “failures of moral suasion have been especially profound for black students.”
The “so-called marketplace of ideas,” Bradley argues, “only works when the opposing party is sympathetic and willing to act.”
Black students “employ the disruptive tactics of yesteryear, even if it makes the campus community—and American society—feel uncomfortable,” he continues, explaining that they’re justified because “their humanity and safety are no longer up for civil debate.”
While Bradley did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Campus Reform, this isn’t the first time that he’s praised student protests.
His first book, Harlem vs. Columbia University, praises the efforts of student activists during the Columbia University protests of 1968, during which students vowed to stop Columbia from building a gym in Harlem. The fallout from the protests led to injuries and over 700 arrests, according to Columbia.
These protesters, Bradley says, “risked their education (and potentially their lives)” to stop the construction of the gym.
“Amazingly, young people, by way of protests and demands, have been able to influence college curricula as well as the policies of their schools,” Bradley writes.
Bradley also gave expert commentary on the protests that unfolded at the University of Missouri in 2015, when he praised student protesters for being “on the pulse of progress.”
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