Tag: Violence

Hong Kong Protests Continue Despite Countless Arrests

Peyton Gouzien | @PGouzien

In response to recent protests in Hong Kong, Police have arrested several protesters. This comes after both the local government and the government in Beijing condemned the young protesters who stormed the legislature. Despite countless arrests, protests continue. Officials in the local government worry that the arrests could cause the protests to grow more violent.

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Political Violence: When Is It Acceptable?

Ellie McFarland | @el_farawayland

Often times it feels as if the United States is on the brink of something awful, some sort of civil war, some sort of coup, some sort of revolt or revolution. Since 2016 there have been more than 30 internationally reported political riots with dire consequences as a result of political violence. There have been several hundred “at risk” protests in America alone. This, along with the heightened division among American people makes the possibility of smart discourse seem further away than ever.

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Although Beneficial, Vaccination Should Be Entirely Voluntary

indri Schaelicke | United States

Undoubtedly one of the greatest medical innovations in human history is the invention of the vaccine. The science of vaccination was first seriously pioneered by Edward Jenner in 1796, when he noticed that milkmaids who had caught cowpox before became immune to smallpox later. To test his theory that humans could develop immunity, Jenner took pus from a milkmaid with cowpox and put it into a cut in the arm of an 8-year-old boy. Six weeks later, he inoculated the same boy with smallpox, observing that he did not catch smallpox. Based on his findings, he was able to develop the first vaccines.

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Political Language is Biased Against Nonviolence

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

Without a doubt, language is essential to the perception of an idea. Using two different words for the same idea is a surefire way of molding opinions about it. For example, let’s take a look at these two sentences.

  1. The obese man lounged in his armchair after a long, non-sedentary day at work, gorging on sugary pastries.
  2. The heavyset gentleman unwound in his chair following a long, active day at work, eating crullers.

Now, these two sentences have quite similar denotations, that is, the dictionary definitions. However, the connotations are in no way equal. Surely, the image of the second man is that of one in considerably better shape than the first. Connotation is a very useful rhetorical device, as it gives the user complete ability to mold the emotion that his or her words give off. Emotion, the undisputed king of political success, is a hugely useful tool to manipulate.

Connotation can take a number of forms. Most overtly, it comes by using one word in place of another, in the form of a synonym. Above examples include the use of “heavyset” in place of “obese” or “crullers” instead of “sweet pastries”. In politics, these substitutions are commonplace.

For instance, many officials of the Vietnam era referred to the war as an “armed conflict”. Though it is true that the U.S. never officially declared war, this is trivial. By calling it an armed conflict, they hoped to lessen the emotion behind it. Of the two, “war” carries a much stronger emotional impact, which is why nonviolence advocates called it a war.

Another key example occurs often, even today, down by the border. Proponents of tough border laws are quick to denounce the waves of “illegals” entering the U.S., whereas those who support more open borders are more apt to use the phrase “undocumented immigrants”. Of course, these mean the same thing, but that is no matter. They still are able to create two very different opinions of those who cross the border without following the law.

In addition to separate word choices, though, there is a more subtle yet also more powerful way that many use connotation. This comes through establishing the default form of a word, and giving the antonym of it a negative prefix or suffix.

In the above examples, the word that shows this, of course, is “non-sedentary” from the first sentence. Though the word merely means the same as “active”, inclusion of the word sedentary implies that activity is not the default. The obese man, likely perceived to be unhealthy, is not expected to live an active lifestyle. Thus, the break in being sedentary is different or surprising.

Politicians commonly do this exact same thing, and it is perhaps causes perhaps the most dangerous thing in America: violence.

In the U.S. today, there is not a lot of room to agree in politics. But, most people can come together on one thing: unprovoked violence is not a good thing. Though many have differing definitions of just what constitutes unprovoked violence, in our own, highly subjective ways, we can generally come to a consensus on this key issue.

So, that being said, why is violence perceived as the norm? When talking about a lack of violence, there are plenty of synonyms. Peace, equality, and understanding first come to mind. Yet, the chosen word is generally nonviolence.

Why do we describe nonviolence as something it isn’t, instead of something that it is? By using the term in a passive manner, instead of a proactive one, society implies that violence is in the mainstream, and let’s face it, it is. But, it would be quite interesting to see how that society might change their views if the language behind them changed. Would fewer people support a war, if the deaths were murders, not casualties? And, would they support nonviolence more fervently, if it was only known as inequality or anti-peace? How about the word “freedom”?

Would more people believe in the idea of it, if talks were about freedom growing, not government shrinking? A single, working class mother of four on welfare wants to hear nothing of her benefits shrinking. Why would she? Maybe they are helping her stay afloat through hard times. But, put in place the notion of her freedom increasing. That same working class woman probably does not feel as if she has a great degree of freedom under her crony capitalist oppression. Upon hearing of smaller government through the positive term, not the negative, her perception will change.

Language is a powerful tool. It has the ability to shape the minds of millions through the complex web of emotion. The way things stand today, though, it is shaping them all to view freedom and nonviolence as a second cousin that only comes around every few years. This pushes the very ideas into the dustbin of history and makes normal their opposites. Perhaps, by changing up the way words are used, and proactively describing ideals, the freedom movement will see increased success. Or perhaps, the very idea of freedom will never be more than an afterthought.

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6 Times The United States Government Massacred Americans

By Andrew Lepore | United States

When most people picture a massacre, they picture a lone wolf gunman firing fanatically into a crowd of unarmed people, or a Jihadi terrorist blowing himself up in a crowded building. This is the 21st century’s version of what a mass murder looks like. Though the perpetrators of some of the most egregious massacres in our country’s history far from fit either of those characteristics.

Unbeknownst to most, in fact, some of the most tragic massacres committed against American civilians have been perpetrated by the American government itself. The purpose of this article is to make light of such incidents, to chronicle some of the most brutal initiations of deadly force undertaken by our own government in this country’s history.

The Memorial Day Massacre

On May 30, 1937, approximately 1,500 steelworkers from the Chicago area gathered at the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) headquarters and planned to march to the Republic Steel Mill to peacefully protest, demanding unionization. As the group neared the gates of the mill, they were stopped in their tracks by a line of 250 armed Chicago policemen (who were contracted by the Republic Steel Mill) and prohibited from being allowed to continue.

The unarmed group, which included women and children, would not disperse on command, insisting on their right to continue the protest. Without provocation, one of the police officers fired off a round into the crowd, causing the already jumpy officers to fire a hail of rounds into the crowd. The shooting resulted in the killing of 10 protesters, and the wounding of over 100 more, most shot in the back as they were attempting to flee. Not one officer was indicted for the shooting.

Kent State Massacre

On May 4th 1970, students at Kent State University organized a mass peaceful protest of the bombing of Cambodia by US military forces. About 2,000 individuals showed up to protest the University’s commons. An initial attempt to to disperse the crowd by several Ohio national guardsmen failed, as they were retreating they were met by a “Pigs off campus chant”.

Shortly after, the guardsmen returned with a large force of armed men. With bayonets fixed to their M1 Garand rifles, they proceeded towards the protestors. As the Guardsmen moved forward, the protestors retreated up and over a nearby hill and were pursued. At this point, the students scattered and the bulk of the remaining students regrouped either on the Taylor Hall veranda or the Prentice Hall parking lot, about 60 meters away from the Guardsmen who were calculating their next move.

At this point, the guardsmen turned around and started tracing their steps by making their way back up the Hill as the students on the Taylor hall veranda started slowly moving back in the Guards direction. As the students started moving forward, the first shots were fired when Sergeant Myron Pryor unholstered his .45 pistol and began firing indiscriminately into the crowd.

That move triggered another 22 guards to fire 67 rounds of ammunition into the crowd, killing 4 and wounding another 9. Two of the killed were simply walking from one class to another. The guardsmen defended their actions, stating that they feared for their lives, which is a curious excuse considering the casualty at the closest distance was 69 meters away.

Sandy Creek Massacre

The Sandy Creek Massacre took place November 29th, 1864, in the Eastern Colorado territory. In what is now empty, arid desert, with less than one inhabitant per square mile, was a native relocation settlement of thousands of Cheyenne and Arapaho. In June of 1864, Colorado Territory governor John Evans met with Chiefs of the tribes to negotiate a peace treaty, and both parties left agreeing to a settlement location at Sand Creek near Fort Lyons.

As the warriors and able-bodied men of the tribes refused to leave their previous homeland, The settlement was made up almost entirely of Women, children, and elderly men. The leader of the new encampment, Chief Black Kettle, was advised to fly an American flag with a white flag waving underneath, in order to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

Despite this, on November 29th, in either a total lack of communication or a straight up act of treachery, came under attack by Union troops. The attack was ordered after a night of indulgent drinking by Colonel John Chivington, commanding the Colorado 1st Cavalry.

In the early morning hours, Chivington’s men surrounded the encampment and were soon ordered to engage. Two of Chivington’s captains refused to obey and commanded their companies to hold fire as the rest of the men fired volleys of rounds into the encampment.

After the initial attack, the men proceeded to torture the remaining survivors and mutilate the corpses. In the end, the death count approximated to 150-200 dead natives, two-thirds of whom were women and children. Despite a congressional committee investigation on the attack, neither Chivington nor his men were convicted of a single charge.

“I saw the bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw before; the women cut all to pieces … With knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors … By whom were they mutilated? By the United States troops …

— Congressional Testimony of Mr. John S. Smith, 1865

The Waco Siege

Waco, Texas 1993; members of the Branch Davidians religious group are suspected by the ATF to be converting semi-automatic rifles to fully automatic rifles in their isolated rural compound. After an initial failed ATF raid on the compound, the FBI took over the operation. The FBI surrounded the compound and began siege tactics as the Branch Davidians refused to surrender themselves or their firearms.

On day 51 of this siege, the feds attempted a tactical assault with tanks armed with tear gas to flood the compound and “force the group out”. The gas they used (CS gas {2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile})can be highly incendiary, yet the feds made no preparations to put out a fire had it occurred. The assault resulted in a fire ripping through the compound, killing 26 children, and 45 adult men and women.

The Lattimer Strike

In August 1897 workers for the Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre Coal Company in Lattimer Pennsylvania went on strike demanding better working conditions. Within a month, over 10,000 workers had joined the strike, and hiring strikebreakers to fill all of the empty positions seemed impossible. With the mine owners becoming increasingly frustrated with the loss of revenue, they decided to contract the muscle of the local sheriffs to disperse the strike.

On September 10th, Sheriff James L. Martin organized a posse of a few dozen local officers to confront a group of 300 unarmed strikers in the nearby town of Lattimer who were on their way to protest. When first confronted the sheriff demanded them to turn around or disperse. When the orders were repeatedly ignored, one of the men in the posse reportedly shouted “Shoot the Sons of Bitches” as they opened fire on the crowd killing 19 and wounding many more.

“It was not a battle, they were not aggressive, nor were they defensive. They had no weapons of any kind and were simply shot down like so many worthless objects, each of the licensed life takers trying to outdo the others in the butchery”

-Derived from a Passage transcribed into a monument commemorating the slain workers in Latimer square, Pennsylvania

Wounded Knee Massacre

A series of events in in 1890 led up to one of the most brutal massacres In the American Indian Wars. Throughout 1890, Natives at the Pine Ridge Reservation (in modern-day South Dakota) birthed the “Ghost Dance Movement”. The state was becoming anxious about the movements growing influence, which today might be considered a native American nationalist movement.

They believed that the gods were angry because they strayed too far from their ancient traditions. They believed in Rejected the ways of the White men and practiced ancient rituals, their gods would strike down all non-Indians on American soil. Officials feared that this movement could lead to an all-out rebellion, as its influence did not stop at tribal lines. On December 28th, a decision was made by state officials to send a detachment of the U.S 7th Cavalry to disarm the Lakota tribespeople at Pine Ridge Reservation on the next day.

On the morning of the 29th, the disarmament was underway. It went smoothly for an amount of time, up until a deaf elder member of the tribe, Black Coyote, refused to surrender his rifle citing the large sum he had claimed to have paid for it.  After multiple demands, two Cavalrymen attempted to forcefully confiscate Black Coyotes weapon; at which point one of the Cavalryman’s rifles discharged (nobody knows if this was intentional), triggering a chaotic scuffle which resulted in a segment of the Soldiers trading shots with the few natives yet to be disarmed.

The initial exchange lasted no more than a few minutes, but the killing did not end there. Artillery began indiscriminately bombarding the tipi camp occupied by women and children, and soldiers began fanning out, finishing off and mutilating the wounded. The officers had lost full control of their men. Some survivors attempted to flee across the prairie, again being a majority women and children, only to be shot in the back or ran flat over.

As the dust settled, the death count amounted to approximately 290 dead natives, most being women and children. A mass grave was ordered to be dug by The Colonel in command of the 7th, James W, Forsyth. Several months later Forsyth was exonerated of any wrongdoing, despite his superior General Nelson Miles testifying that Forsyth’s actions resulted in “A deliberate massacre, rather than a tragedy caused by poor decision making”.

“General Nelson A. Miles who visited the scene of carnage, following a three-day blizzard, estimated that around 300 snow-shrouded forms were strewn over the countryside. He also discovered to his horror that helpless children and women with babies in their arms had been chased as far as two miles from the original scene of encounter and cut down without mercy by the troopers. … Judging by the slaughter on the battlefield it was suggested that the soldiers simply went berserk. For who could explain such a merciless disregard for life?” – Hugh McGinnis; First Battalion, Co. K, 7th Cavalry:

For a government supposedly only in existence to protect life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it sure has massacred a lot of unarmed civilians. Horror stories like this serve as a sobering reminder of the dangers of the existence of a state. It is also a reminder of why we have a second amendment in our bill of rights, to protect ourselves from tyrants and the egregious actions we know they are willing to partake in.

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