To Defy a Dictator, Send in the Clowns

Protest Movements Can Wield Humor as a Weapon Against Oppressive Regimes

When Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to protest the regime of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, they brought with them a funny weapon against the guns and tear gas of the military: a sense of humor. They carried cartoons, sang parodic songs, and renamed the central garbage heap after one of the president’s agencies. In the short term, their humor was a powerful vehicle for nonviolent struggle against a potentially violent regime, and it followed in the footsteps of similarly antic protests in places as disparate as communist Poland and the …

How India’s Nonviolent Resistance Became a Shifting Global Movement

From Gandhi to MLK to the Arab Spring, Nonviolence Is Portable, but Can It Still Persuade?

Early in the 20th century, M.K. Gandhi began to experiment with a novel form of political action, which he termed satyagraha. Gandhi first used satyagraha to protect the rights of …

Not Everybody Is an Expert on Policing

Too Many Uninformed Voices Are Drowning Out a Clear Solution on Police Reform

Nowadays, everybody—agenda-driven politicians, entertainment moguls, and many citizens on the streets—is considered an expert on what needs to be done to improve policing. We listen as people offer the media …

There’s a Difference Between Riots and Rebellion

Dismissing Unrest in America's Cities as Aimless Violence Overlooks the Roots of People’s Anger

From the Boston Tea Party to the recent protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Americans have a long history of using violence to combat oppression and push for social change. But …

Baltimore Is Still Troubled, Still Racist—and Still My City

Absolutely Anything Is Possible in Crabtown, Which Is Why I'm Keeping the Faith as It Burns Around Me

When things turned very ugly in Baltimore on Monday—widespread looting, massive property destruction, arson, and assaults on police, motorists and pedestrians—I called a friend to see if she was okay.

Riots …

The Town I Loved, the Protestor I Became

My Wonderful 1950s Childhood Inspired Me to Oppose the Vietnam War

If you want a classic portrait of middle Americana in the middle of the 20th century, you had to look no farther than my hometown of Rialto, in inland Southern …