The Hypocrisy of the Professionally “Non-Violent”

Jeff Pearce
8 min readApr 13, 2024

A few weeks ago, the Ethiopian people were mentally abandoned more or less by a white ferenji we all assumed we could count on. No, I won’t name this person for their safety’s sake as they’re in Ethiopia right now, nor do I really want to go after them on social media unless they make things personal or go way beyond the point of no return, but suffice to say they drank the Kool-Aid and bought into the fiction that Fano is an ethnic army that’s equivalent to the barbarisms of the OLF and TPLF. As if.

One of my favorite writers Harlan Ellison used to say no, you are not entitled to your opinion, you are entitled to your informed opinion. What irks me most is this individual, who got so much right about the TPLF war, could suddenly turn so dim and obstinate over the relentless ethnic cleansing of Amhara. Ignoring the fact that we have documented incidents that go back about thirty years. Ignoring the bones and skulls discovered by the research team of the University of Gondar, and all the sad, traumatized faces that indict complacency in the moving photographs of Jemal Countess for his traveling exhibition, “Tears of Wollega.” Ignoring the evidence laid out by Graham Peebles for his documentary.

First, be informed. Then see if you can be pious over non-violence and how the “only” way to save Ethiopia is through all sides sitting down to talk. Gimme a freakin’ break.

I can’t call what this person believes a betrayal because they don’t owe me anything, but I do take their foolishness personally because unfortunately, like them, I am white. And how many of us who are white are there who will really stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Amhara, with the Afar, with Gurage, with mixed-heritage Ethiopians who know the kill squads will be coming for them, if not now then soon?

Just as James Baldwin used to point out that in trying to make his case over civil rights, he was trying to save the souls of white people as much as his fellow Blacks, so certain dumbass liberals still don’t understand that they need to get with the program. That until you can look your African brother or sister in the eye and say, “Yes, I believe you, I will try to carry some weight in the struggle and put my own name and reputation at risk in advancing the truth,” you are fucking useless.

There is no worse hypocrisy to my mind than that over non-violence. Isn’t it interesting how those who sanctimoniously peddle the talking option are often perfectly fine with officially mandated violence? Blinken, Mike Hammer, et. al. will fly into Ethiopia, mouth their pieties over Pretoria and negotiation and then merrily go back to endorsing Ukraine’s struggle against Putin and the sale of weapons to Israel. Now I am still squarely behind Ukraine. But don’t gaslight me that one violence is acceptable while the other is not.

Fano is a grass-roots movement that began because Amhara needed to defend themselves. Soldiers in Fano groups come from all walks of life — teachers, doctors, whatever — and need I have to say it again, Ethiopian army soldiers were already raiding homes in the night in Lalibela before Pretoria was even signed, hauling away people who were once their staunchest allies.

No, Fano is not equivalent to TPLF or OLF, because these two are terrorist groups. The war in November 2020 did not organically start with ordinary Tigrayans, demanding regional autonomy or yearning to breathe free or some other rhetorical bullshit. It started with the sociopathic leaders Debretsion and Getachew “I can eat everything in a USAID truck” Reda. With men who simmered with rage that they lost power, and they wanted it back. In sharp contrast, Fano’s crusade is so egalitarian and democratized that half the time all of us supporters are bitching about how and when they’ll get a unified leadership, and I for one keep nagging them to advance a coherent program.

So please don’t try the false equivalency. Which is another way of shoehorning in the sad, flaccid calls for “negotiation.”

Last night I was flipping through a biography of the great leftwing activist and historian Howard Zinn (A People’s History of the United States), and Zinn pegged it right:

“I am very suspicious of violence… as a means of achieving social change,” he once wrote, but he went on to add, that “if you want to say to people, ‘You musn’t do anything that will provoke violence,’ there’s no way you can avoid that unless you want things to remain as they are.”

Exactly. The person I’ve called out doesn’t realize how they’ve been influenced by Oromuma ideology, which I hasten to make clear is no way in shape or form reflective of Oromo culture and people. The stupidity of fascist Oromuma doctrine is its posture of “victimhood” and master-race BS similar to TPLF propaganda, but what makes it so pathetic is that just as with the TPLF, Oromos have always had a right to be proud of their accomplishments and place in Ethiopian history, and I’ve discussed this several times before.

I could go down the rabbit hole once more and point out how “Amhara domination,” still perpetuated in ignorant New Humanitarian and Guardian articles, was always a myth, but again, I’ve tilled that earth before, and you’ll still see the pious shake their heads anyway and say, “But war is wrong blah, blah, blah…”

Unless you’re the one facing the AK-47.

It seems that liberal sanctimony will always find a way to mutate like a virus. The Black Panthers eventually self-destructed, but at the heart of their origins was a good idea. Screw the Kumbaya circle, don’t send your fascist, racist cops into our neighborhoods trying to oppress our people because we will defend ourselves. And for taking this position, they were branded radicals.

As I’ve pointed out in interviews and print before, what is happening now in Ethiopia is a civil rights struggle. It’s being relabeled a war, a revolt, ethnic violence by the stupid and the willfully stupid within Western media, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch because it’s convenient for them to do so. Keep the African pot boiling. Keep making people think Africa is chaotic and unsalvageable. No, this moment is stretched out and taking its time, but it is the moment when a population seeks to free itself once and for all from the chains of the past.

If we can get a concession of that simple point that this is a civil rights struggle, then it shouldn’t be too big a leap for the “well-intentioned” to realize that desperate, targeted people need to defend themselves. In my book, The Gifts of Africa, I wrote a whole section on Frantz Fanon, the psychiatrist and activist who backed Algerian independence. And he recognized what Zinn saw, that nonviolence could serve as a convenient ploy of the powerful to reach a compromise — one that either kept the status quo or merely helped “moderates” to power who could be sucked into the corrupt vortex later on.

Well, screw that. Fanon spent time as a psychiatrist treating both Algerian torture victims and even French soldiers who did torture and earned their own PTSD from their actions (in one unbelievable moment of horror, victim and torturer both ran into each other on the hospital grounds). The gentle activist who pushed for violence in The Wretched of the Earth was privately repulsed by it. And this facet of his character, though ironic, perfectly fits.

Those of us who have known real violence in different forms know it is ugly and repulsive. There are movies with action choreography and quick cuts, and then there is the real-life visceral tangibility of people bleeding at your feet, waiting for an ambulance, or bodies rotting in a field. No one with any remaining shard of their soul could meet a veteran with an amputated limb and want someone else to go through what they did. Could wish for more misery.

Yet it is the only option for those who aren’t listened to, those who are ignored, those who are callously dismissed when the lights shine into darkened bedrooms and the safeties click off on rifles.

There is something that indeed disturbs me more than the fight that will traumatize a generation of Ethiopians. I know the fight is bloody and heart-wrenching, but it’s still necessary. No, what’s worse is this:

It’s that certain white liberals and media correspondents are quick to condemn an Amhara student or an Amhara farmer with a rifle. But the Amhara women sobbing in IDP camps…? “Oh, yes, what a shame. Well, that’s Africa for you.”

In taking these postures, the white liberal or correspondent pretends they’re being noble or “objective.” The cop-out that “all sides are to blame” is so easy, and it’s perfect because the end goal — which can be a perfectly unconscious attitude — is to slip back into your own society, not to keep any lasting relationships or integrate yourself into the African community. They’re disposable, and you’ll eventually go home, won’t you? Rising above the fray works because you have nothing of your name or your reputation invested. You only have to answer to your editors at your paper or network.

No, I don’t expect a reporter to endorse Fano’s campaigns, but I do think Fano and Ethiopians are entitled to things being presented as they are, without the cutesy, arch language that undermines the facts on the ground or overt X posts that misrepresent them.

Right now, the media is gradually coming round to covering the ethnic cleansing of Amhara. But the sword swings both ways, and it’s incredibly annoying that people on social media platforms rushed to post HRW’s reports and quote Laeticia Bader. Because HRW and Amnesty are the same creepy outfits that sold you out over 2020 and 2021, siding with the TPLF and having Bader make the rounds of interviews to defend HRW’s ridiculously flawed and biased investigations.

Peddling their wares validates them. And they aren’t needed — they never were — when we have plenty of Ethiopian sources to report on atrocities, when the meticulous research of the AAA is far more reliable than anything Amnesty or HRW says.

In the same way, people have to realize that Western media is still not your friend. And it never will be. Its goal is to lure eyeballs to death scenes, to sell the EU and U.S. policies on Africa, and keep white people thinking Africa is hopeless. This is the business model for covering Africa. I can virtually guarantee that when Fano eventually wins, Western TV crews will show footage of “jubilation” in the streets. The very next day, those same crews will report that the new interim government is failing the people. You watch, it’ll happen.

So that ferenji I’ve railed against above…the person doesn’t realize it yet, but they’ve demoted themselves. They’ve gone from being an ally to a symptom.

Maybe they’ll wake up eventually, but right now I have more faith in Fano winning in the end.



Jeff Pearce

Writer person. Books - Prevail, The Karma Booth, Gangs in Canada; in June 2021, Winged Bull, a bio of Henry Layard, the Victorian era’s Indiana Jones.