January 27, 2021

Political Violence is Always Destructive: My August Blog Revisited

Violence begets violence… violence is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to
destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. –Dr. Martin Luther King

A little over six months ago, I wrote a blog calling out political violence in Seattle. This blog, Seattle: A City in Fear Can Be Restored, described the politically motivated violence on Seattle’s streets, its profoundly negative impact on the safety and lives of Seattle’s citizens, and noted the implicit support of the violence by local politicians.

It was based on one of the most obvious lessons of history: that political violence begets political violence and thus can undermine or destabilize democratic societies. The blog was motivated by my concern for the future of Seattle, which is seriously threatened by both street violence and its tolerance by our current city leadership. I was also worried that political violence in Seattle and other cities could damage U.S civil society, weaken our political system, stimulate violence by other groups, and further divide the nation.
May 30, 2020: Seattle

Tragically, this is exactly what happened.


My blog was never about Black Lives Matter or peaceful protesters, who have every right to bring their concerns to the attention of society.  It was about those who destroy and deface businesses, physically intimidate politicians and public servants like Police Chief Carmen Best, who set fires and physically attack onlookers and the press, and who believed physical violence is an appropriate tool to create the revolutionary change they want in society.

I paid a high price for writing that blog.

Within a day, my weather segment on public radio station KNKX was canceled by KNKX management, under pressure by political activists. Without any basis in facts, KNKX management claimed that my blog “delivered rhetoric that is offensive and inaccurate” and particularly noted my comparison of violent individuals to the brownshirts of the 1920s and 1930s. They did not study their history, and even worse, signaled their support for the worst of “cancel culture.”

And at the University of Washington, a group of student activists, who supported the violent agenda of the rioters, started a petition drive to get me ejected from the UW faculty. Diversity of viewpoint, freedom of speech, and the role of tenure for protecting university faculty was not their concern.


The 1930s’s Analog

KNKX management (Joey Cohn and Mat Martinez) claimed to be disturbed by the section of my blog that suggested that violence in Seattle was “reminiscent” of what happened in Nazi Germany during the 1930s. And my observation that the broken glass of the storefronts brought to mind Kristallnacht and other criminal acts.

This was not a casual analogy, but true to historical fact. The use of street violence by the Nazi stormtroopers (SS) was critical to Hitler’s gaining power. This violence and the counter-violence it provoked in communist and left-leaning groups undermined popular support for the Weimar democracy, leading people to wish for  a “strong hand” to restore order. Just as Kristallnacht was designed to send a political message of intimidation, so did the Seattle violence (and the violence in other cities). Political violence by street mobs also played a critical role in Fascist Italy, leading to the rise of Mussolini.

Importantly, many in the Seattle Jewish community contacted me with their support, including local rabbis and Regina Friedland, the Director of the Seattle American Jewish Committee (AJC). Vulnerable minority groups, such as Jews, know well from repeated experience that political violence frequently leads to attacks on their communities. Apparently, KNKX management considers themselves more knowledgeable than the AJC and a community that experienced Nazi violence firsthand.

We are letting political violence happen again

Most disturbing is that KNKX management and UW student activists deliberately distorted what I said, suggesting that I was comparing peaceful BLM protestors to Nazis, which is entirely false. Peaceful protests are a bulwark of our democracy and protected in the U.S. Constitution. In fact, the political violence undermined BLM and resulted in a loss of support for the movement. And political violence can only encourage violence from the opposite side of the political spectrum, which in fact occurred.

The Damage Becomes Real

The damage of the political violence in Seattle and other major cities was, if anything, worse that I had feared, not the least because it was tolerated—and sometimes encouraged-- by the local political establishment.

There was, of course, the tragic deaths in the “autonomous zone” that was allowed on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, including extensive damage to small and large businesses, with many in Seattle and other major cities being shuttered permanently from the destruction and the resulting fear.

Leadership in Seattle and other American cities have tolerated and even encouraged the violence, decriminalizing the destruction and not charging offenders who continue their violent actions without constraint. Many on the Seattle City Council were complicit in allowing the violence to continue, with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes effectively decriminalizing the criminal, violent activity. A city where violence is decriminalized is not viable. You can look at San Francisco to see our future.

A number of Seattle City Council members supported defunding Seattle Police by 50%, attempting to cripple the group responsible for public safety in minority and other communities. One Seattle Council member, Tammy Morales, PUBLICLY came out in support of violence:
"I don't want to hear is for our constituents to be told to be civil, not to be reactionary, to be told looting doesn't solve anything."

Council member Teresa Mosqueda said she “understood” the necessity of the violence:
“Colleagues, I hope we’re all saying we understand why that destruction happened”.

Seattle City Council

Public safety was damaged, with Seattle experiencing the highest murder rate in decades and lengthening of the time to respond to 911 calls. Many Seattle police officers have left for other municipalities. And who, not on the far left, would run for office in Seattle, knowing they would face intimidation and even physical attack on their homes and family?

Today it is obvious that the political violence by Antifa and others have little to do with equity for minorities; rather, supporters of violence are pushing a revolutionary agenda or reflecting simple criminal intent. How else do you explain the attack on the Democratic party headquarters in Portland, the destruction across Seattle last week, and the looting and vandalism in Tacoma this week, all after the accession to the oval office of Joe Biden?

This recent violence included the plundering of the original Starbucks at the Pike Street market
and the damage to small businesses, struggling to survive under COVID restrictions.

Perhaps most damaging of all is the normalization of political violence, which continued for over a half-year in Seattle, Portland, and other large cities. Such violence makes the population feel insecure and encourages opposition groups to take up violence as a tool.

As shown by the map below, provided by the Princeton ACLED U.S. Crisis Monitor, Seattle is second only to Portland for violent riots this year, with our destruction far exceeding larger cities such as Chicago and New York. An intolerable situation. And inexplicable that our political leaders have allowed it to continue.


Did six months of unconstrained destructive political violence encourage some Trump supporters to cross the line to the illegal invasion and desecration of the U.S. Capitol?

This is something suggested by a number of thoughtful analysts such as the NY Times writer Bret Stephens. And it is strongly supported by an examination of the Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of groups protesting/rioting in DC on January 6th , with repeated mentions of the summer violence in American cities as one of the reasons for their actions. Political violence leads to political violence.

And those who opposed Trump President should consider that the violence of the past six months was a lifeline for the erstwhile President and almost resulted in his winning a second term. Fox News and other conservative media outlets played up the violence non-stop for months (with special attention to Seattle’s CHAZ zone and “summer of love” and the continuous Portland war zone) and Trump repeatedly mentioned the violence as a reason why his administration must remain in office. Antifa and others participating in political violence were Trump’s most potent allies. So was the Seattle City Council.


In short, if anything, my August 5 blog under-warned about the implications and dangers of the
political violence tolerated in Seattle and other American cities.

The bottom line: Political violence should never be allowed or tolerated.  Never.

Politicians who make excuses for such violence and facilitate its expression should be voted out of office. The effective decriminalization of political violence should be ended, with offenders facing real consequences.

One of the great lessons of history is that civilization and “civil society” is actually a thin veneer and highly fragile. Political violence is the surest way to weaken the bonds between fellow citizens, to provoke mistrust, fear, and hate, and to undermine the institutions we depend upon for our safety and ability to function.

Thus, those supporting or tolerating political violence have undermined both the safety and future of our city and nation for misguided, short-term political goals. 

They will not be looked upon favorably by posterity.



79 comments:

  1. Seattle also has a yawning chasm of inequality to pair with the violence statistic. Our housing market is beyond the means of the typical citizen, yet everyone needs somewhere to hand their hat, right? For for and more its the streets or their vehicles. Many of these unfortunates work full time but still can't make enough to have a roof over their head.

    The techies in Seattle have a certain flavor of smug arrogance that comes from the privilege of wealth, yet also huddle under a rampant destitution of character indicative of a rampant lack of interpersonal skills and empathy. They have theirs so screw everyone else. They stick to their own kind and could care less about most anyone else. They represent the elite in this region. They complain about the homeless yet don't realize their part in it.

    Its really easy to say "Stop the violence", but that does nothing to solve the underlying problems that thrive and metastasize into general civil unrest. Primarily how Seattle has evolved into a two tiered society that struggles to provide ample opportunity for the underclass to actually have a means of adequate survival and hope for the future. Many people are angry and they have the right to be. The violence on the streets represents the upshot of those attitudes, coupled with too many "Pie in the Sky" solutions by government as well as too many restrictions and regulations. Affordable housing can't even be built in this region if a builder were to follow all the regulations to a "T". Basically only luxury housing can be built for a profit, and the older stock of more affordable housing is falling prey to gentrification. A city and a region can't continue on peacefully for long when so many of its key residents can't afford the basics. The Pandemic throwing so many of the underclass out of work, while the elite thrived safely at home....yah that might be enough to get people out on the streets in anger. What else do they have to lose, really?

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    1. I really appreciate your comments and believe you've made a very valued point. Thank you.

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    2. Pure whataboutism. Dr. Mass's point that violence begets violence remains unchallenged in your post. Instead you justify violence by pointing out that the less fortunate in Seattle are really, really angry. That may be, but arson, vandalism and looting make the situation worse, not better.

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    3. I believe more that the comment was more leaning towards the cause of the violence, not that it was justified. At least that's how I took it. Suppress individuals long enough and they will revolt. If we are able to change how the middle class has been whipped out, give them a fighting chance to live then what is there to revolt against. It's a either you have or you have not in this area and those that do not have, really have no hope to live in the system.

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  2. I appreciate and respect your observations and comments - most particularly what you've written about the right to free speech (speak freely).

    The violence and mayhem in Seattle is unconscionable. What's happening there is now also happening in Tacoma and Bellingham. I don't know anyone who feels that elected officials' response has been appropriate or wise in any of these places.

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  3. Well thought out, well worded, and much needed discussion. Thank you for sticking your neck out again for the sake of our society.

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  4. Lack of leadership. People have forgotten the lessons of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Black singer and activist Josh White was a confidant of FDR's and worked from the inside to get across his message of 'color blind'. Paul Robeson. Why have we forgotten this incredibly articulate black man? A star in the firmament.

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  5. Thanks for speaking up, Dr. Mass.

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  6. Well said, Cliff. As violence is tolerated it become exponentially worse. History bears that out again and again.

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  7. Thanks Cliff for continuing to stand up and say something. I am disappointed in this city's leadership like you. What ever happened to the lessons we learned from Gandhi and Rev. King regarding peaceful protest in the 20th century. Violence is never the solution and undermines the meaning of the protests themselves. I think we all know who is breaking the windows. They are all dressed in black clothing and they call themselves ANTIFA. It's not a secret and the local media won't even call them out by name for some reason. Why is that?

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  8. Absolutely hit the nail on the head with this article. I've been denouncing the violence since it began last year. I find it incredibly hypocritical for our leaders to denounce the insurrection at the capitol earlier this month while at the same time ignoring many months of political violence right in there very own states/cities.

    There's a plethora of examples of the hypocrisy, the government leaders ignoring and even condoning the political violence of the past several months. In some cases they even joined the riots!

    Even today, the violence continues in these same cities and our leaders do the minimum possible to stop or deter the violence.

    Thank you, Cliff, for having the courage to write this blog post.

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  9. I think this is fair. And you are right, many mistakes were made last summer in Seattle and other cities. Now, I think the way forward is to hold those who have committed crimes accountable for their actions, starting with those who rioted in DC on 1/6. We don't need any more politically-motivated violence, whether it comes from the Right or Left.

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  10. I applaud you for writing what many of us in Seattle are feeling. Time to end the violence and clean up this city. I truly don't understand why the citizens continue to put up with the lack of leadership. They talk about environmental issues and green new deal while allowing trash to build up in parks and roadways from the homeless. They give a green light to theft of personal property and expect the citizens to accept it (because the ones who commit crimes are down on their luck) while defunding the police. Enough is enough!

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  11. Please do be careful about throwing "Antifa" around. Its one thing to abhor violence as method, but there is the caveat of a logic path in which opposing them is a nod in approval of fascism. Now if going down the rabbit hole of adopting a fascist approach to our nations problems is viewed as appealing than there is a certain degree of understanding. For Germany at the time, it made sense, but it didn't work out well on the long term. Probably neither side of the political spectrum truly grasp what fascism is, since both sides use the term provocatively. The Right can brand environment/climate/gun control policy as fascism just as easily as the Left can brand racist authoritarianism born of populist nationalism as fascism.

    Neither side can claim to not being guilty of wielding violence. Violence is basically a tool and one that can be chosen not to be picked up by any faction. Humanity really isn't wired to not pick it up. We may have intelligence, consciousnesses and regret, but the reality is we are still just animals. Actually far more evil than animals could ever aspire to be.

    Anyway, Cliff thanks for the reflections on this topic. It might be interesting if there are any proposed solutions that could perhaps exist outside of the usual Red/Blue dichotomy. Problems are too large to be compartmentalized by opposing factions these days.

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  12. You are completely correct for speaking out. There are so many soft spots in our civilization that need spotting. Loss of judgment is common with anger. Frustration is common to lack of knowledge. Censorship is fear of knowledge.

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  13. It’s right wing violence that’s the issue.

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    1. Suggesting that left wing violence should be tolerated but right wing violence shouldn't? That's the stance a lot of local leaders have taken, either verbally or through action (or inaction).

      That's a direct path to division within society.

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    2. And what is causing that? Is it just fear of brown people who "Took our jobs!!!!" or maybe just a lack of opportunity in general? People blame what they can easily blame, even if its an abstraction or completely baseless. Sure, there is systemic racism in the USA, but if things are generally roses for everyone opportunity wise, regardless of their whatever demographic, than no one really feels the need to burn down the nearest 7-11.
      The elephant in the room is technology, which promised a better life and equality for all, but instead enriched a select few and enslaved everyone else. Brown people didn't take the jobs. Robots did. Robots and general obsolescence, with the owners of the robots making out with all the spoils of the increase in productivity. The rising tide didn't raise all boats. More like a few mega-yachts.

      Its not technology's fault either. Again, its a tool. I can use a hammer to build a masterwork for all of Humanity to behold and enjoy, or I can cave in your skull to a pulpy mess. Either way, its just a hammer. It doesn't GAF. Tech is just a better hammer.

      The mix of tech and capitalism is a bit uneasy though. Capital/Organizations/Governments always strive to increase productivity via tech which tends to involve cutting expensive and unreliable Human beings out of the business model. Congruently, these same businesses/governments still rely on those same now obsolete Human Beings to buy their crap and pay their taxes. AKA: We don't want to pay you anything but you damn well better still find a way to pay us!

      Perhaps check out a series of books made into a TV show called "The Expanse". Its a very plausible future of Humanity and our relationship with tech. Its definitely NOT a "Star Trek" utopian view of the Future. More like Game of Thrones.....

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    3. The FBI says right wing terrorism is the biggest threat the nation faces. . Did you not see the near mass murder at the Capital? All violence is bad. But it’s primarily a right wing phenomenon. Numbers don’t lie.

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    4. Unknown...you are completely wrong. The statistics are clear...most of the violence over the summer was by the left wing. Wonder why Portland and Seattle were the leading cities with violent riots? Not many right wind terrorists here.

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    5. Yes, I don't get that vibe that Seattle and Portland are a hotbed for the right.

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    6. Dr. Mass and Separate for a ride, are you aware that the Pacific Northwest in general is very much a major hotspot for White Nationalists and right-wing militias? From the Aryan Nations to the Proud Boys, from the fact that Oregon was a sundown state to the clear redlining in Seattle, Portland, and elsewhere, from the murders of Edwin T. Pratt to Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, right-wing violence is a major and persistent presence all over the PacNW, even in Seattle and Portland.

      Please don't underplay the danger and severity of right-wing violence.

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    7. "But it’s primarily a right wing phenomenon. Numbers don’t lie."

      "the Pacific Northwest in general is very much a major hotspot for White Nationalists and right-wing militias"

      Yup. Continued violence in Seattle and Portland. All right-wingers.


      "Please don't underplay the danger and severity of right-wing violence."

      Please stop acting as though the violence that CONTINUES in Seattle and Portland RIGHT NOW is not actually happening. Those aren't right-wingers carrying out that violence.

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  14. It is absolutely ridiculous to blame protests over well-documented police violence against minorities for a insurrectionist attempt to overturn our government overtly encouraged by the political leadership of the GOP.

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    1. Chris... did you read my blog? No one is blaming peaceful protestors. The problem are violent protestors that are destroying business, destroying property, hurting people, and intimidating those that disagree with them. I think you and others should acknowledge that the violent protestors this summer were Trumps greatest support and their normalization of violence contributed to what happened on January 6th..cliff

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    2. B.S. what happened on January 6 was a result of a liar lying (as usual) to fools too stupid to realize they were being lied to.

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    3. windsaloft... Trump certainly contributed to it, but I think it is absolutely clear that the violence over the summer was a major factor. Just check the social media of Proud Boys and others....extensive talk about the rioting in American cities.

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    4. The left still doesn't know or at least admit their part and they also don't get why Trump had success. Conspiracy theory if the day: summer riots allowed unchecked to fire up the right for the events of Jan.6.

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    5. Cliff: this isn't that complicated -- there was an insurrectionist violet riot at the Capitol because the President and the GOP leadership told them a blatant lie that the election was stolen, and said that they needed to do something about it.

      I know you'd like to make it about the protests in the summer (and the violence of those protests, which IMO were at least as much from the police than the protestors, but I digress..). But the link between the two is thin at best.

      Especially when you can point at the completely obvious reason for the violence at the Capitol. I mean, just ask the people who were there! They weren't talking about BLM, they said they were there because Trump and Cruz and Hawley told them to be there, and they told them that a coup had happened, and that they needed to right that wrong. That's it. That's the whole reason, right from the people who staged the insurrection.

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  15. I too am totally disappointed in our city's leadership --- LACK thereof. It's chilling and embarrassing to say I live in Seattle right now, where we can't seem to keep our city and parks safe to walk through.

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  16. Old school liberals like Cliff Mass who are willing to point out injustice are a rarity in Seattle and Blue cities nationwide. Today's Radical Left justifies, supports and encourages violence as long as it benefits their agenda. We saw billions in property damage, tens of lives lost, and armies of Antifa and BLM rage all summer throughout 2020. There's no hiding from that truth.

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  17. “The bottom line: Political violence should never be allowed or tolerated. Never.”

    Are you sure this should be a steadfast rule?

    - How did 400 years of slavery come to an end?
    - Could we have liberated the survivors of Auschwitz through non-violent means?
    - Would a sit-down strike have worked for the American Colonists?

    I like the ideal of pacifism, but maybe ‘violence as a last resort’ is more realistic.











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    1. Snape.... I believe the South started the Civil War. Hitler started WW2. And there is something about Concord and Lexington? I am talking about political violence WITHIN a democratic country. Surely you see the difference?..cliff

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    2. Cliff, the Treaty of Versailles is really what started World War II. Hitler was a demagogue and an opportunist. He tapped into the populist, nationalistic rage that was there in abundance after World War I concluded. Primarily related to crushing reparations and concessions that mainly hurt the everyday German the most but not so much those who prosecuted the war. Someone was going to channel all that spite. In this case it just happened to be Hitler, but if not him than it would have easily been someone else. Hitler basically offered: "Follow/swear allegiance to me and you get a seat at the table again. All those groups you blame for your problems ( even if unfounded)...yah we will take care of them too."

      Seattle does a fine job, just like most of the USA, of playing the Winner Takes ALL rule set of the Game of Life. All for me. None for you. Thanks for playing.

      Seattle is a port that basically doesn't want any freight going through it. Seattle is a transportation hub and logistics center that won't support much in the way of any manufacturing (Other than Boeing. Lets see how long that lasts...). Seattle wants affordable housing but won't zone much in the way of anything past what keeps the NIMBY single family home crowd happy. We have all these issues and NO ONE will compromise due to ideals that are unwavering. Ideals that also make a BOAT LOAD of money by creating artificial scarcity in the markets. The city basically wants all the easy loot that tech provided for their tax base without all the guilt of pollution to stain their Green Image. Never mind that so few people actually WORK in tech as a percentage of the population but no one wants to talk about that. About 11% of the workforce is tech. Everyone else provides services to them.

      Opportunity is lacking. Democracy works if people perceive they actually have a seat at the table. When they do not have that seat...than yah. Violence is what you get. This country is not what anyone would call a "Democracy", anyway.

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    3. Germany was the instigator, but was only stopped through returned violence.

      The South wanted to secede from the Union and carry on with slavery. This would have been the case if not for violent opposition from the North.

      If a protester assaults a cop, should the cop say to himself, “violence begets violence, I will not return in kind”?

      “I am talking about political violence WITHIN a democratic country. Surely you see the difference?”

      Yes, a big difference (but notice you’ve put a condition on the original statement).

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    4. Snape..you are really confusing things. Police sometimes have to use violence to stop violence. When attacked a country can use violence to protect itself. The rioter in Seattle, Portland were using POLITICAL VIOLENCE that was completely unnecessary and wasn't trying to stop a violent act of others. Surely you can appreciate the difference. Or perhaps you note was not serious...cliff

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    5. Cliff,
      You quoted MLK, “Violence begets violence… violence is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.”

      But then wrote, “Police sometimes have to use violence to stop violence.”

      See the contradiction?
      Same idea with WW2. The allies had to use violence to destroy an evil enemy, ignoring the advice of famous pacifists.

      The point I’m trying to make has not changed:
      “I like the ideal of pacifism, but maybe ‘violence as a last resort’ is more realistic.”

      As for the Seattle rioters - they had the option of peaceful protests but chose violence instead. I agree should not have been tolerated!

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    6. Cliff,
      Full disclosure -
      I enjoy your posts and agree with almost everything you write. Have learned a lot from you over the years.

      The things I disagree with amount to cherry picking... cause I like to argue.

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  18. It's clear that, for the size of the protests, the BLM protests over the summer were overwhelmingly peaceful (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/16/this-summers-black-lives-matter-protesters-were-overwhelming-peaceful-our-research-finds/)

    There is also evidence that the BLM protests over the summer actually increased Democratic voter registration (https://twitter.com/tbonier/status/1324687796016218112) so this story that the BLM protests almost resulted in Trump's election is bunk.

    You do this entire community a disservice by drawing a false equivalence between relatively isolated violence at absolutely massive and largely peaceful protests over the summer to an attempted coup where members of Congress and the Vice President were being targeted with violence. A coup attempt that day by day, it is becoming increasingly clear that Trump was involved in, and that we are lucky that many members of Congress didn't die.

    In the end, to use MLK's words: It seems that you want order and a negative peace, not a positive peace with justice.

    Stick to what you know: The weather.

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    1. Unknown.... there are a lot of problems with your note. Yes, most protests were peaceful, but a significant percentage were not... around 500 according to the Princeton group, with many of them in the Northwest. As a result hundreds of Northwest businesses have been trashed--is that acceptable to you? Riots have killed 12 people....is that OK with you? I hope not. And to call what happened in DC as a coup is just silly. Criminal, of course. But a real coup has troops used to gain or maintain power, among other things. Just did not happen. A rag-tag group of idiots pushed into the Capitol, inspired by a totally irresponsible President who had lost an election. And you vision of violence bringing a "positive peace with justice" is simply scary. No better than what Trump did.

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    2. What happened in DC was a mostly peaceful insurrection :)...

      anyhow, I don't care if you are a janitor, Teacher, blue collar, white collar, or a weather guy. You are entitled to your opinion and free to give your voice!

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    3. It was a mostly peaceful insurrection..both sides can play the game. What really upsets me isn't that people have a different opinion then you do, rather comments like this: "Stick to what you know". I don't care a weatherman, janitor, white, or blue collar worker. You have a right to express your opinion and I find it arrogant that someone would dismiss your view because it isn't in your area of expertise.

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  19. Once again, well written piece. Thank you Dr. Mass.

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  20. Thank you Cliff. Stay the course!

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  21. I do not condone *AT ALL* the violence carried out by people supposedly supporting BLM, nor do I condone the "violence is understandable" position by some on the Left. But I think it's really a stretch to say that this violence was significant in leading to the January 6 violence in Washington DC. That Jan. 6 violence (and the larger protest that day) was addressing the alleged stealing of the election from Trump.

    The people who wanted to "hang Pence" and the people who tried to break into the Senate and House chambers certainly were at least as upset as I am about the summer violence. But (correctly or not) the January 6 protesters believed the election was stolen from Trump and that they had been failed by election officials, legislators, and the courts. The right wing social media discussions I saw didn't justify violence by comparing it to the summer violence. It was more like the American Revolution justified the storming of the Capitol. It was seen (again, correctly or not) as the last resort.

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    1. Kevin.... I don't think it is much of stretch. Read the social media of Proud Boys and the others...they were constantly talking about the summer riots. Conservative media was harping on the violence in U.S. cities constantly and certainly that was true of Trump. I am scientist: direct evidence matters. In this case, it is overwhelming...cliff

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  22. Dear Prof Mass
    I agree with you, but I would like to suggest some different interpretations of what you have said. What I would like to try and convince you by the end of this note, is that violence is almost always a symptom of something much deeper, easy to overlook, especially when the violence itself is used by those wishing to achieve specific ends.

    Firstly, the big issue that got you in trouble with KNKX ie the suggestion that Krystalnacht and the glass downtown were related. So, the similarities were destruction, violence and lots of glass. But, as we now know, this was just the beginning of violence against the Jewish people. Moreover, by the time that Hitler came to power in 1933, anti-semitism, upon which his whole campaign rode, was widely and profoundly established in Germany. In fact, even those sympathetic to the Jewish people understood that Jews were a “problem” for which various “solutions” were proposed. Some “benign” included expelling them to remote areas and allowing them to die of “naturally”. It’s just that Hitler chose the most extreme “solution” ie the Final Solution, with which we are all familiar. I think that is the reason your analogy caused such anguish.

    Secondly, having grown up in South Africa, I can tell you that regimes that are prepared to use violence, do not have to use much. Just a little. Intimidation and fear can do the rest. So, when from the highest levels of government you see representatives such as police literally throttling a person to death, with seeming impunity, you should not be surprised to see violence in reaction to this. When an army helicopter with a red cross painted clearly on the side “buzzes” a crowd, again with impunity ( have we ever heard anything about this?) we should not be surprised that at some point the reaction will turn to violence. Now, I am not condoning violence in any way what so ever, and here in Seattle we should have taken a much firmer stand against that violence earlier on, but I will put it to you that it would have made no difference to the outcome we saw on Jan 6. An inherently non-democratic administration will find any reason to condemn the other side ( The caravan, ebola, “the violence” in all the cities - way over-exaggerated but played on a 24 hour loop on Fox news). Violent regimes will find *any* excuse to implement their vile and inhumane agendas - and we will find out in the coming months how vile these last 4 years have been. And, sadly, violent regimes in the end, almost always end in violence, just as trump’s did on Jan 4… and we all hope this is the end, and not the beginning.

    Lastly, if we stop at the unrest we saw in the cities, and on Jan 6 we will all do ourselves a dis-favor. trump cynically exploited a real problem we have in America. Most of us have done fairly well by this democratic capitalistic experiment. You must get wonderful self satisfaction from your academic achievements. I know I did from mine. The freedom to pursue ones dreams is truly unique to our country. But, there are many many millions of people who have be left out of this dream. There are many millions who have seen their jobs disappear overseas. Just go over the cascades and you will see a different side. And, This is seen throughout our country. I do not believe this is an insoluble problem. But, unless we start to talk about this, and then act upon it, this rag-tag group of idiots that invaded the Capitol, will be back. And this time better organized. And this time maybe the “troops” will not be so loyal to the constitution.

    So, yes, there was glass. There was violence. But, I hope I have been successful in showing the origins are very much different.

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    1. mdeh, I appreciate what you have written, but you should not confuse the violent rioters with those concerned about injustice. You do not confront injustice by destroying stores, by hurting people, by intimidating the families of politicians. The fact the violence has continued is pretty convincing proof that it is not about BLM but something else. The folks that invaded the Capitol were a disorganized bunch of idiot losers. The continued violence in our cities, with the support of some politicians, is in the end far more serious and ominous. And it undermined the very people they claimed to be supporting...cliff

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  23. While I do not condone the property damage in any way, it’s counter productive. Do remember on BIG thing. The BLM protests and anger all over their nation are about real tangible things. The clear lack of justice in this county for people of color in particular but also a broken police and judicial system. It’s real and people are fed up. The insurrectionists that stormed the capital are driven by a “stolen”election, Qanon BS, endless lies told by the GOP, racism, and fanatical cult like following of a autocratic with fascist tendencies. These aren’t actually real things save trump. It’s all lies and BS... they are using the excuse of these non existent things to justify there actions. On one hand people are protesting actual tangible things, on the other people are in a fan world led by the GOP and trump. Fix the racial justice issues and dysfunctional policing and you actually fix the problem, good luck with the other....

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    1. When one's store is destroyed, when ones place of work is lost, when young men are killed in Chaz...these are tangible things. And it does nothing to promote justice for people of color....in fact, just the opposite. Who did most of the dying this summer due to the riots? And you should not say that the fairness of elections is not tangible. In fact, it is the most tangible of all, but those in control of the nation have real power to do tangible things. You and I may disagree with those that stormed the Capitol, but for them the stakes were the most tangible of all.

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  24. In your article you continue to compare the left-wing politic to right-wing violence. What you have failed to note over and over and over again is the fact that the violence was not perpetrated by left-wing protesters, what you call "antifa" in the article. Antifa, as you very well know, is an ideology, not an organization, meaning anti-fascist. Against the right-wing violent criminals who have divided the country. You need to apologize for conflating antifa with violence. They are not the same. The reason places such as Seattle and Portland got so violent was because political tension hit a breaking point. A breaking point that, condoned by local police, led to destruction of property. And you can't conflate these people with peaceful protesters, as, even as you say you aren't, are doing.

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    1. Those going under the banner of Antifa have been involved in one violent incident after another. One can see it on the news virtually every night. You are denying the obvious, I am afraid. And what political tension hit a "breaking point" that resulted in destroying the livelihoods of store owners and those that work there?

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  25. Thank you Dr. Mass. Our family supports you and hope to see you doing weather seminars again soon.

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  26. All those riots at the Capitol simply illustrate to me how true it appears to be that a bullhorn in the hands of a liar in power can be almost as dangerous as a gun in the hands of a psycho. I could easily recognize Trump's lies about rigged elections and so on, as such, but apparently there are a lot of people who couldn't. So what is the solution? Education in critical thinking skills has been suggested. A college education as a requirement for voting and an advanced degree in science required for a Presidential candidate? I am not sure that's the correct answer, but I don't know what else to suggest. Perhaps some sort of required "moral screening" test for candidates?

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    1. So who decides on the moral screening? The American people through voting are the screening. The country voted for Trump and they knew what they were getting. Half the country felt he did a good job, half did not. And quite honestly, lying is something that is well distributed among politicians of both parties.

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    2. Half the country thinks he did a job?? Check the polling, its sub 40%.

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    3. The best "polling" was the election. It was close. A switch of around 30000 votes in the right districts would have made Trump the winner. Both houses of Congress are equally divided. So is the nation.

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    4. Winning by 7 million votes is not close. The houses aren't evenly divided, the Dems have the house and senate. The only reason the power of the two parties is similar is because of the electoral college and jerrymandering.

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  27. For the last couple of nights there have been serious riots in the Netherlands. The initial intent was to protest against the COVID-19 curfew, but in no time the police was bombarded with stones and serious firecrackers, cars were set on fire, and shops were pillaged. This happened in tens of cities.

    The credo of modern societies is total freedom but it lacks the counterbalance of taking responsibility and caring for the wellbeing of the other members of our society. After all the Latin word socius, from which society is derived, means friend, ally, partner. The violent destruction of shops, cars, bikes, etc. is obviously the opposite of the behavior of a socius.

    Last year the Lebanese-French writer Amin Maalouf wrote a book "Adrift: How Our World Lost Its Way". Lebanon used to be a thriving country till it became fractured through lack of solidarity and hatred. All that is left of it today is a pile of rubble. The same process is now happening globally. It is still not too late to reverse this process of self-destruction.

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  28. I just find it sadly ironic that people consider the violence "justified" when it either supports their own views or comes from a group nobody wants to call out for the illegal actions.

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  29. I would have hand no problem with what you have talked about with the riots and destruction in Seattle if it wasn't for the inaccurate and unnecessary comparison to Kristallnacht. The fact that you have clung to this an unimportant part of your overall point is bewildering, especially after all of the just criticism.

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  30. PNW....I dont understand your fixation on the Kirisllnacht analogy. I said it was reminiscent. I told you why. I never said it was exactly the same....but many of the elements were similar for the reasons I gave. It seems to me that you and others are being a bit disingenuous about it ...cliff

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  31. Dr Mass,
    In both the weather and society, you have a great gift in your ability to see what is actually going on.  Thank you for cultivating and sharing this gift.

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  32. Excellent summary of the events. Spot on!

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  33. Interesting how you can post something like " How fog forms" and get 3 comments... But discuss current affairs/politics and it blows up! Maybe you missed your true calling!?!? ­čśéRegardless I whole heartedly agree with BOTH you political commentary as well as you your weather analysis!! Keep it up. ­čĹŹ

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  34. Cliff, please continue your voice of reason. It is sorely missed in the PNW. You are brave in this era of Cancel Culture. Unfortunately, there is no longer allowed a diversity of thought or room for nuance in a completely appropriate and respectful conversation.

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  35. Funny how for the radical Left that control Seattle and WA, violence is dependent on who is in office. I remember all the way back to last year when it was fashionable and dissent was patriotic.

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  36. In my mind the purpose of a demonstration is to draw attention to a need. Perhaps the more people, the bigger the need. Then people should get together and do the hard work of trying to meet the need. Violence runs on emotion and is counter productive to problem solving, in addition to being destructive in many ways. That leaders would encourage violence is outrageous.

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  37. You have now spent two blogs railing against the violence during BLM protests. Fine, violence should not be the answer and should be condemned regardless of who commits it.

    But you have spent no time railing against the coup attempt. The only mention of it that I am aware of as a frequent reader of your blog is an attempt to shift the ultimate blame for that event on the BLM protests. That is not acceptable.

    First off, by spending time on the one but not the other you are indirectly supporting the coup attempt. You are communicating that one of these two things was a problem worth discussing, the other is not.

    Second, to the extent you do discuss the Jan 6th coup attempt, you compare the two with a 'both sides' do it mentality. But these two pieces of violence are far from the same. One set of violence is the type that always accompanies large scale protests. Anywhere on earth at any point in history, protests of that size wind up attracting opportunists. That doesn't make it ok, but you should be able to see that it is very, very different than storming the capital.

    Looters smashing a window during a moment of chaos is an economic crime. Insurrectionists storming a capital with intent to stop an election is treason. These things do not equate.

    Look, I know you're a really smart guy, and your probably thinking as you read this, "Of course I don't condone the Jan 6th coup, that wasn't the point I was making and I that should go without saying."

    YEs, your right, it should go without saying. But in certain moments of history, it needs to be said. We need you to say it, Cliff. We need you to demonstrate that you understand.

    You can talk all you want about escalation and how one bit of violence leads to the other, but I need you to acknowledge that what happened on Jan 6th is far worse. I need to know that you understand that burning down a Starbucks just isn't the same as attempting to overthrow the democratic results of an election.

    Cuz right now I don't know that you know this. I don't even know if you understand the impact your words - or the words you choose not to say - have on those who listen to you. I need to know your values.

    I know wading into this political conversation has had impacts on you. I am sorry that happened. But we are here now, so I think it's time for you to go further, to go all in and lay out your values, your principles, in as well thought out manner as you can.

    Because as of right now I am not sure I can continue reading or supporting you. What I am perceiving is that you equate the BLM protests and the coup attempt on Jan 6th.

    Worse, perhaps, you think the BLM protests shares blame for the coup attempt. Here is what that sounds like: "Gosh, if those darn minorities had only protested in the right way, we wouldn't have had to have a coup attempt."

    I hope that is not the gist of how you feel. But I can no longer ascertain it. So, I think it's time you laid your cards on the table. Otherwise I am out.

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    1. You summarize perfectly the problems with Cliff's logic. Thank you.

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  38. Unknown..... wow.... quite a long message. Please don't read my blog if you don't want to hear a different viewpoint than the one you apparently possess. These kind of threats "I am out" are revealing. My position is clear: all political violence is wrong, misguided, and destructive to civil society: what happened this summer throughout the nation and what occurred in DC on January 6th. I have never mentioned BLM in my blogs, so I don't know why you keep on bringing it up. And I do think that the violence this summer undermined those working for social and racial justice, just as the violence on January 6th undermined those who were concerned about election irregularities and censorship by Big Tech. Violence is corrosive to public discourse in a democracy. Anyway, please don't read my blog if you are unwilling to evaluate and examine different viewpoints and ideas than your own.

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  39. In 2019, the people of Seattle had the opportunty to get rid of the far left radicals on the city council and replace them with pro-business liberals. They chose to keep the radicals. They are getting exactly what they deserve.

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  40. Cliff, I appreciate your columns and agree with most of what you wrote. You should not have been fired and the reaction of the City Council is truly delinquent. I have watched Seattle decline and am frustrated with the local leadership (full disclosure this is coming from middle age white male Seattle native).

    However, there is a big part of the equation that I think you are missing and it’s around your comments about “the acts of a few illicit police” and that SPD is “one of the most progressive in the nation.” Have you talked to many Black people about that? You mentioned talking to other Jewish people about your comparison to the Kristallnacht. I would challenge you to talk to Blacks and get their take on the Seattle police.

    You wrote that violence is unacceptable—and it is. However, minorities in the US and yes right here in Seattle have faced and continue to face violence at the hands of the police. I’m not talking about violent looters (with whom force should be used if needed), I’m talking about peaceful protesters or unarmed people being arrested or just harassed. In shooting cases, police in are shielded by both the police union and the requirement that prosecutors prove “evil intent” before charging. The end result is that police officers operated under a different and much more permissive set of laws, one that is easily abused.

    That kind of state-sanctioned violence may not make for news headlines (unless there is body-cam footage) but it is just as devastating over the long term. This doesn’t excuse the violence that was a part of some of the protests, but if you condemn violence from one side are silent about violence from the other side you will face criticism. Throw in the Nazis and I guarantee it :-)

    You bring up the Jan 6 coup/riot/insurrection in the context that the violent protesters last year helped fuel their fire. If you’re only mentioning the Jan 6 riot in the context that the violence in some BLM protests encouraged it then I would humbly say that you have a big blind spot. You say the political violence leads to political violence, and it does. You even quote MLK about it. But the violence didn’t start with the BLM protests—it’s been going on for generations against minorities and for the most part tolerated or even encourages. If the first thing you have to say about it starts with the violence around BLM protests and goes from there then you will be perceived as either being unaware or uncaring about previous violence against minorities.


    Thanks for reading,
    Seattle Native

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  41. “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein

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