FILE - America Protests Chicago

People clean up items outside a Jewel grocery store Monday, June 1, 2020, in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, after the business was broken into during unrest in reaction to the death of George Floyd. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.

“Violence only postpones the justice people seek by peaceful demonstration.”

– Martin Luther King

In the 1950s as the AM radio dramas, sitcoms and detective shows faded into the shadows of TV, anxious networks tried vainly to save this staple of family entertainment. They retooled formats and hired new writers who produced the best shows ever aired into American homes. Unlike the typical westerns, sitcoms, cop, detective or variety shows, this era of producers examined new social and political issues and revisited old quandaries with modern approaches and sophisticated execution.

Host of CBS Mystery Theater, E.G. Marshall was famed for asking listeners to judge the efficacy of how each plot was resolved. On a show highlighting revenge, he questioned; “Is it not man’s duty to involve himself in the eradication of a wrong he sees for himself? And though he may have reason to engage himself, is it right for him to do a worse wrong to satisfy himself? Or is it greater to voice objections then try to correct that wrong rationally? I ask you to judge the solutions taken tonight.”

When is it right or wrong to break a law is an age old question. This is revisited each time vial acts of civil disobedience erupt. This problem is as old as Socrates. There are rudimentary ethical and moral axioms that dictate the criterion for all civil defiance. When a minority violates the legal rights, protections and safety of the majority for personal benefit, that act is both nefarious and mercenary.

It’s a paradox for America to condemn all civil disobedience since our nation was founded on civil defiance to abuse from the English. In 1775, our Revolution shaped American character. When the colonies were repulsed by acts of abridgement of their God given right to self governance, the War of Independence was justified after they had exhausted all attempts to rectify that affront passively.

Our founders bequeathed us a Constitution to protect the rights of all citizens and ensure those of the minority were never abused by the majority. They knew violent defiance of government would destroy America. That’s why they crafted a Republic of laws to protect free speech and methods to express grievances against government for those who felt their personal rights were compromised.

“Pure democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention.”

– James Madison

Their flawed logic was thinking America would remain a moral society and respect the Constitution and its protocols to remedy injustice. Since they were adamantly opposed to political parties, they never envisioned politicians would usurp the influence and control of the people over government. Yet their worst fears came to fruition. And that lack of respect for Constitutional law and order our framers built into our national character has done irreparable damage to our republican governing.

Liberal American political philosopher John Rawls defines legal civil disobedience as, “The public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law that’s undertaken with the aim of bringing a change in laws or policies peacefully.” He says people who engage in these reform movements are willing to accept the consequences for their actions within fidelity for the law. When disagreement is defined without personal motive, this type of protest is within the legal, moral and ethical boundaries of law.

Rawls defines improper bellicose forms of agitation as contentious refusal to obey legal authority.

These militant protests of forced resistance and defiance of law are illegal acts of revolution. They are commissioned for the purpose of disrupting the course of legal tradition with no respect for law or improving society. This type of unlawful disruption is unacceptable within every modern society.

“I conclude, to each according to his threat, advantage is not a conception of justice.”

– John Rawls

We’ve had reform movements to improve our nation for centuries. The Abolitionists ended slavery. The Civil Rights Movement ended the degrading acts of segregation and discrimination. The Labor movement modernized the workforce and sheltered workplace children. Voter disenfranchisement ended with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. These and many other reform moments were fought in our nation’s trenches to correct illegal social injustices for all Americans.

“Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.

– Martin Luther King

It’s been said “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” For years, protests starting with good intentions were hijacked by leftist terrorists like Antifa. Since violence is contagious, dissidents join peaceful reformers to turn legal protests into lethal riots. They infiltrated the recent BLM rallies and turned them into anarchism throughout the nation. Dissidents held America hostage for a weekend.

“We declared war on American fascists because others wouldn’t!”

– Mark Bray, Antifa Handbook

Today’s terrorists come in all colors. They are not unique. They are cowards who infiltrate peaceful protests to provoke social unrest. Stacy Washington, of Project 21, a black action group, explained: “Expressing grievances in the form of protest is a time-honored tradition. But what we are watching unfold across the country is a coordinated effort to destroy the rule of law and order in communities by creating racial tension. These militants are dishonoring the purpose of the protest for their gain.”

After World War II, Communists infiltrated our nation and worked openly to destroy democracy. During the Cold War, a radio show starring Dana Andrews, "I Was A Communist For The FBI," depicts a true story about how an FBI agent joined the Communist Party to learn the tactics they used to overthrow a nation. Commie thugs infiltrated protests and turned these peaceful demonstrations into full blown riots by encouraging others to join in. That’s how they’d make people accept Communism over democracy.

“I asked to play this role to help America realize how Communists really worked.”

– Dana Andrews

Marxist Pyotr Struve wrote, “When people fear capitalism, they’ll accept socialism.” The Communist tactics used in the 1950s are used today by socialist liberals in campaign offices across our nation. And this threat is more dangerous and genuine than the wrath of Soviet Communism. These losers copied the red’s playbook and added a new weapon: The liberal media and internet dissidents now work with them. This enables them to blackmail America with violent civil unrest and instill mistrust, fear, and insecurity in democracy so they can replace it with leftist socialism one election at a time.

There will always be a need for constructive civil disobedience in our nation. The power to protest and challenge unfair laws is engrained in the foundation of America. When it is done within the spirit of our founding, it respects society’s laws and institutions. This is how lasting reforms take root in a republic. But when the rights and safety of others are violated by domestic terrorists who intimidate society with violence to benefit them, they abandon all laws and morals within the democracy. They are no longer working within the framework of our Constitution and must accept all consequences.

“Churches are closed in America. Dozens of cities are on fire. And innocent civilians and cops are getting shot. And we just let the protesters and looters burn everything down? Wouldn’t it be better to shut down the looters and open up the churches?"

Stacy Washington, Co-Chair of Project 21

Contributing Columnist

William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13.