GOOD AND BAD IN THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT

BLM photo

^ Black Lives Matter : from irrefutable justice movement to inflammatory left-wing agenda

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We at Here and Sphere support the basic ideal of Black Lives Matter : that the skin color of a person should have no bearing at all on the respect and fairness with which he or she is treated and regarded by the society and by its law enforcement officers; and that disrespect, and worse, by the society and its law enforcers is a serious breach of society’s covenants : against which appropriate action ought be taken.

I think that most of America gets this and supports it. I think that most law enforcement people get and support it too. Officers and Black Lives Matter protesters have in many cases joined hands; and why not ? We’re all in this together.

The movement has an opportunity to remake much that today is misguided about law enforcement and people of color. It has the nation’s attention; and many people have also noticed that most of the incidents that roil us have begun with a 911 call, often hysterical, usually full of misinformation. The way that 911 calls are received and processed needs great reform. In some communities, a 911 call is made simply because the caller sees a person of color walking on his or her street. Police forces need to treat such calls skeptically; many already do, but many treat them as harbingers of danger.

Police departments need establish a workable procedure for communicating with those who they stop and for processing the stopped person’s response. That procedure should be published, so that all in the jurisdiction know what is likely to be done by the police person who stops you. And of course, the procedure must be the same for all persons. Police commissioners must also make sure that every officer on his or her force understands the procedure and swears an oath to it. Compliance must be scrupulously monitored. The communities thus policed must be a partner in this effort. Too often they have not been; have been, instead, seen as a danger, whereas in almost all case, the communities being policed are an ally.

All of the above, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought to the nation’s attention, and I applaud it for doing so.

If only this were the entire story; but as with so many reform movements, it is not the whole story. It appears that the leaders of the “BLM” movement have morphed it into a movement of general political revolution, much of whose tenets I reject, as should you.

Before I continue, let me decry this development. I have seen it before. A justice movement, singularly focused, makes it=s case and begins to persuade; but then, its mission incomplete, activists within it decide to expand the mission into all sorts of other grooves, along with imposing a division — most likely racial — between the movement’s prior activists. Not surprisingly, the movement thus complicated and radicalized alienates most people and fails itself and its original mission. Something of that has befallen “BLM.”

Specifically, “BLM” has recently promulgated its “six point platform.” A few points, I agree with. Others I roundly reject. These I will dcscuss, but first, you should read the platform in its entirety now : https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjwjdjn_azOAhUKJCYKHdyzBiQQFggcMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmashable.com%2F2016%2F08%2F02%2Fblack-lives-matter-movement-coalition-policy-goals%2F&usg=AFQjCNE8a9MXanzlsN2gsfFi0o8Xkxc82A&sig2=IgvvTZjPMimmNrHVQRbtZA&bvm=bv.129391328,d.dmo

Point Number One : End the war on black people. abolish the death penalty, yes. Demilitarize police forces, yes. Eliminate money for bail, no.

Point Number Two : Reparations. This demand has been made before, by other groups. BLM’s language is filled with buzzwords, rage, and distortions, probably because the entire demand is unworkable and unquantifiable in justice terms given the complexity of Black Americans’ rise to success over time.

Point Number Three : Invest/Divest : “move money away from police and systems of incarceration and put into “long term safety strategies” such as employment and education. With this, we can, or should, all agree. The only difficulty is that BLM’s education agenda calls for eliminating charter schools — exactly the schools that offer success to Black city kids.  I have no idea how this union-originated demand worked its way into a justice agenda, but it has. I reject it. So should you.

Point Four : Economic Justice : to BLM, economic justice means doing away with the Trans Pacific Partnership. Again, I do not see what this labor union goal has to do with justice for Black People. To be fair, this section also calls for a national and local effort to bring jobs to the “most economically marginalized Black people.” Assuming that people can be so categorized, and identified, I think that Hillary Clinton’s $ 550 billion infrastructure plan might help.

Point Five : Community Control : this was tried during President Johnson”s “Great Society” initiative. It led to graft, embezzlement, and small cliques controlling who got the money and who did not. And who, exactly, is “the community” ? This is a buzzword used by pressure groups in all sorts of settings to bogard proposals that all sorts of locals support but do not have the time to attend long and boring “community hearings.” To the extent that “community control” means control of government agencies, I do not see how that can be done short of full blown racial apartheid. (I may add that much of the BLM rhetoric assumes racial apartheid. This is of course not new. Many Black people’s justice movements — the colonization movement, Marcus Garvey, the Black Panthers — have sung the despair’s tune of racial separation.

Point Six : Political Power : most of the demands in this section, I fully agree with : universal voter registration; same day voter registration; voting day holidays; voting rights for formerly incarcerated people. But other point can never be agreed to : pre-registration of 16 year olds and local voting for undocumented people. I am all for immigrant integration into our society, undocumented too; but voting is , perforce, exclusively a right of citizenship. No non-citizen can ever be allowed to vote in citizen elections.

Though certain of this six point platform should be supported, its enlargement undermines the initial agenda, one that was well focused and impossible to argue against. Thus expanded, there’s almost certain to be some component that potential  supporters cannot support. Usually this leads a movement to “Leninization” : those who aren’t supporters of it all get viewed as enemies of it all and are expelled or dismissed.

I have encountered BLM activists whose zeal for their own revelation about justice takes them well beyond their comfort zone. I well recall arguing on twitter with one such BLM activist who was certain about everything and combatively dismissive of me for not sharing her enthusiasm and her buzzwords. She started telling me about her neighborhood, assuming that I, being an old white guy, could not possibly know anything about it. But in fact I knew more — much more — about her neighborhood, and happenings in it, than she: which ended the discussion.

BLM seems staffed by many like that twitter person, full of aggression, phrases, and zeal, but lacking much ground. “Full of passionate intensity”,” as the poet once wrote, makes for ready coalition of like zealots; and as is usually so about zealots, many fly to the far fringes of political objectives. So much for the original mission.

Citizens seeking change are free to present whatever change they like by any means they like; I have no problem with it here, except that BLM, doing so, has made a movement that was irresistibly just into a whirlwind of wham and bam.

UPDATE : I greatly prefer that this editorial  not end on a down note. The original goal of “BLM” is one that we all should support : the guaranteeing equal respect and justice to residents of all skin colors, in particular Black persons. If “BLM” really wants to achieve that end, it should concentrate its volunteers on “GOTV”: in Black Belt starts of the South most of which are poised to vote Democrat in this election. Were such states to vote “blue,”: it would bring political revolution and, almost certainly, a justice revolution with it, one that might well accomplish the goals of the 1960s Civil Rights movement — which achieve much but left much yet undone.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

 

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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