Part of the controversy surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement here in the Twin Cities involves where the loosely organized group has decided to demonstrate — at family-friendly places of commerce like the Mall of America and, last Saturday, at the State Fair.
But something that shouldn’t be particularly controversial is that if you’re white, it isn’t appropriate to counter-demonstrate by chanting “All Lives Matter!” at activists striving to highlight racial disparities.
Yet on Saturday, that’s exactly what this guy did:
— bengarvin (@bengarvin) August 29, 2015
As I see it, Black Lives Matter activists are trying to change society’s status quo by bringing into public consciousness how people of color are disproportionately victimized by police brutality. By demonstrating at places like the State Fair, they’re able to attract huge amounts of media coverage while hopefully provoking fairgoers who might otherwise proceed through life in ignorance to think about the fact that unarmed blacks are twice as likely to be killed by police than unarmed whites.
Chanting “All Lives Matter,” on the other hand, reaffirms the status quo. The implication is that there’s no significant issue with police brutality in our society, and hence no need to highlight the value of black lives that have been negatively impacted or ended by it.
Coming from the mouth of a white man, that sort of message is a tough pill to swallow. It’s essentially trolling in its flesh-and-blood form.
But also tough to swallow is Black Lives Matter activists chanting “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon” while being escorted down a closed street by the very police officers they apparently want fried:
These people are employing the same sort of faulty logic used by racists — ‘there are bad cops, therefore all cops are bad.’ That’s already problematic, but taking it a step further and calling for violence? It’s impossible for me to fathom how anybody could get behind a cause that reprehensible.
Of course, neither of the above clips is representative of most of what happened during Saturday’s demonstration, which involved no violence or arrests. But they do represent ways in which the Black Lives Matter movement can go off the rails by advocating for indiscriminate violence on one hand, and on the other, ways in which those who don’t sympathize with the movement can fail to understand what it’s really about and therefore not take the problem it intends to address sufficiently seriously.