I'd like to thank the worker-owners of Firestorm Café — Emma Chandler, Evan Edwards, Scott Evans, Meg Hen, Daniel Lee, Sara Lynch-Thomason, Joe Rinehart, Eli Scott and Rebbecca Soup — for their collective comment in last week's issue [Commentary, "Sound Bite Vandalism: An Anarchist Response to Media Hysteria," May 12]. At a time of great confusion and concern, their statement is remarkable for its calm intelligence. I applaud them for trying to clear the air of some of the misconceptions surrounding "anarchism" by pointing out that the movement has a long, diverse and in many ways admirable history. But there is a further point to be made here: The real problem is not anarchism or any other "ism," but violence, which seems to tempt people of every political stripe, or of no professed stripe at all.
And violence produces only more violence, not change. Thoreau knew this, Gandhi knew this, Martin Luther King Jr. knew this. As did (come to think of it) a certain Jewish carpenter. The anarchist community, like all communities, has to come to terms with the violent people who invoke its name in the service of destruction. If the capitalist hegemony you oppose really is crumbling and imploding under the weight of its own injustice, all you have to do is offer a viable alternative, and make it clear that your community abhors violence as a political means, no less than as an end in itself.
— John Crutchfield