Rhetoric that advocates violence, is typically viewed to be unacceptable on the grounds that is inhumane, immoral, and counterproductive. Generally, I too oppose support for violence to achieve an ultimate goal. However, in the case of 1964 America, in which blacks continued to endure the relentless clutches of racism, established by slavery, Malcolm X’s idea to launch a guerrilla struggle against this system, seems reasonable for the time.
Malcolm X’s appeal– by the ballot or the bullet– may seem to be be illogical, and even irresponsible given the possible consequences, yet I would argue that his appeal rouse blacks, and shake America’s politics. More than a hundred years after slavery, the black struggle to insert themselves into mainstream politics had gained little ground. Policies surrounding housing, interracial marriage, and voting rights, were tailored by racist whites to the detriment of blacks, with little opposition from blacks. It is for these reasons that Malcolm X worked to recruit blacks his cause of black nationalism, in which blacks would create a capable political machine. Through this, Malcolm X believed blacks would be able to assert themselves. Malcolm X pronounces, “If a black man can’t move his store into a white community, you tell me why a white man should move his store into a black community. The philosophy of black nationalism involves a re-education program in the black community in regards to economics”.
The environment of 1964, excluded blacks from mainstream politics to the point that it flat out didn’t recognize blacks American citizens. This disturbing truth to me, serves as the cornerstone of Malcolm X’s appeal to blacks, as he It is this issue that motivated Malcolm X to ultimately advocate for a guerrilla insurgency. X argues,“No, I’m not an American. I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised I hypocrisy”. Malcolm X’s argument that blacks were victims, was a tactic to rouse blacks to his cause. By making blacks feel like victims, Malcolm X believed it would make blacks angry yet inspired to rise up and more actively demand their rights, by any means necessary.
Furthermore, Malcolm X isn’t simply advocating for a violent revolution, but also an insurrection through the vote. Malcolm X purposefully describes guerrilla warfare for his audience using a number of examples, from Indochina (Vietnam) to various Latin American nations, to present to his audience that a violent insurrection is a viable option, one with a recently high success rate. Malcolm X affirms, “Nowhere on this earth does the white man win in a guerrilla warfare. It’s not his speed…you’ve got to be mighty naive, or you’ve got to play the black man cheap, if you don’t think some day he’s going to wake up and find that it’s got to be the ballot or the bullet”. Yet, I think that Malcolm X ultimately wanted the black cause to be realized through the vote, as he saw this as the true gateway to black freedom and political power. I’m interested in learning your opinions on this charged speech. Thoughts?