To think that some on the left make the argument that the killing of children, young people, and old pensioners is a legitimate form of anti-colonial struggle reveals a moral vacuity and political bankruptcy that should receive an unqualified rebuke. I am sure that such words never were uttered, even in moments of anger and despair, by the great anti colonial leaders of the 20th century. Not Fidel. Not Mandela. Not Gandhi. Not Ho.

Closer to home, Martin Luther King, including in the most tragic moments of the civil rights struggle, never considered such heinous actions. Only the other side — the Southern racists — did. And without any moral indecision or scruples proceeded to murder and maim young Black children and teenagers.

Even in the most difficult moments, King refused to allow rage and revenge to frame his politics. With a laser-like focus he counseled non violent mass action, grassroots organizing, an expansive strategy and equally expansive tactics, and participation in every arena of struggle, not least electoral politics. In the end it paid off.

The system of Jim Crow came down. Today’s activists here and elsewhere would be wise to study this experience as well as the politics and values of the great anti-colonial leaders of the last century.