We have reported on a couple of occasions about the rise of citizen militia groups in Mexico, where civilians have been ground between savage drug cartels and corrupt and ineffective police and politicians.
You probably will not be surprised to know that the New York Times regards this as a bad thing, and has compared it to a similar situation in Colombia, where some militia groups themselves fell into extortion and drug trafficking.
"Most everyone agrees: The only thing worse than killing is being killed. If our lives are threatened, we have the right to defend ourselves, with force if necessary. In a civilized society, that defense is delegated to the state. But not all of us, apparently, live in that kind of civilized society," wrote NYT contributor Hector Abad.
Now there's a gift for understatement! Tens of thousands have been killed in the Mexican drug wars, often in unspeakably gruesome ways. Those who have tried the sort of non-violent means of resistance no doubt favored at New York Times editorial meetings have often found themselves dumped somewhere in a shallow grave. Civilized society ceased to exist years ago in many parts of Mexico.
Refined progressive thinkers inevitably point to the examples of Gandhi or Martin Luther King as the way to resist injustice, and if you are facing a decaying British Empire or a rotting Jim Crow system, those are great examples. If you are facing, say, the Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Taliban or the Knights Templar in Mexico, I would suggest sterner stuff is called for. Many in cartel-dominated parts of Mexico are saying it's better to die on your feet than live on your knees, and that is something that should be applauded, not tut-tutted by the cosseted swells of the New York Times.