Quote of the day—Malcolm X

Concerning non-violence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.

Malcolm X
March 12, 1964
[For the record and to keep people from getting themselves caught with a misquotation please beware that I have seen this misquoted and falsely attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. as “It is criminal to not teach a man to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”—Joe]

6 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Malcolm X

  1. Heh-heh. That ought to take the anti-gun wind out of the Black Caucus’ sails, but somehow, I don’t think they will get this message.

  2. This reminds me of:
    “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.” — Gandhi, An Autobiography

  3. Quite a moral difference between the two quotes: one declares it criminal to take a particular action (Malcolm X) and the other declares it criminal to not take a particular action (supposedly MLK). The actions differ in the two statements so they are not quite about the same thing but the second demands the “somebody” do something, i.e., it imposes an obligation on “someone” — without stating who the “someone” is and implying no choice about accepting the obligation.
    I agree with Malcolm X but he could just put a period after the word “himself.”

  4. As Bob R said, he could have just put a period after “himself”. Otherwise Malcolm X is approving not teaching a man to defend himself when he is the occasional victim of sometimes less than brutal attacks. Or even teaching a man to not defend himself if he is only the occasional victim of sometimes less than brutal attacks.

  5. And what Bob R said about the second, spurious quote that “demands the ‘somebody’ do something, i.e., it imposes an obligation on ‘someone’ — without stating who the ‘someone’ is and implying no choice about accepting the obligation,” it seems to me that such a sentiment is somehow also not in the “toolbox” of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King’s beliefs. He was seeking, through moral suasion, not particularly government force, a day when his children would be “judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skins”, and waiting for someone to “teach a man to defend” himself wasn’t in HIS character. Don’t forget the Deacons of Justice didn’t wait (They didn’t start shooting whitey, to start a revolution, either, but that’s for a different day) but stood up on their own and essentially said, “we won’t take what we shouldn’t take, and we have the means to enforce our refusal.”

  6. Windy; you have pointed to the all important difference between standing one’s ground and rebellion. Acting verses reacting, respectively. One is a purely moral position (stand your ground) and the other, almost universally, is an emotional reaction that will draw you down to the agressor’s level and prevent you from living your own life. Tom Petty seems to have gotten it right;

    “Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
    You could stand me up at the gates of hell
    But I won’t back down

    Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around
    And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
    Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

    Chorus
    Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
    Hey I will stand my ground
    And I won’t back down

    Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
    In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
    But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down…”

    which is unusual for an entertainer, but there it is. “You can stand me up at the gates of hell…” and since I know what’s right you aren’t going to make me flinch. It says, “You aren’t going to transform me into yet another bully or coward in a very long chain of bullies and cowards. I can’t be broken.” It cost Jesus his life, for example, but he stood his ground. Most of us haven’t been put to such a test. Yet.

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