I write about this because even though Simon trotted out “Selma, Gdansk, Robben Island,” it was a sophisticated formulation of an oftentimes hackneyed argument. Most of the time, it seems that people use the nonviolence incantation as a way to lazily dismiss contemporary attempts at agitation for change, or to hold people to an impossibly high standard. But Simon, perhaps as a credit to his extensive experience with the press, understood it in terms of the battle of images.
In his own words,
“When the very demand is an end to wanton and brutalizing overpolicing, a riot and all the imagery that a riot conjures is in fact the most useless thing in the great arsenal of civil disobedience and rebellion…
....as if the imagery of violent civil unrest has ever done anything in this country other than push middle Americans into the arms of fearful, authoritarian repression”