I Respect, But Not Endorse, Black Lives Matter
“The whole of language is a continuous process of metaphor, and the history of semantics is an aspect of the history of culture; language is at the same time a living thing and a museum of fossils of life and civilisations.”
― Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks
I have a soft spot for satire (and, apparently, alliteration). When I read about a serious topic, I often wonder, “What is the best way to mock this?” But this topic deserves to be treated seriously, even if a large portion of its activists behave childishly and disseminate unserious rhetoric, so in this article I will attempt to control my proclivity to troll.
Police violence against innocent and peaceful citizens is abhorrent, as is the lack of accountability and consequences for police officers who employ brutal tactics against innocents and criminals alike (“criminal” being a relative term as there are so many capricious laws that have criminalized behavior and transactions that invoice no social cost) that leads to unnecessary permanent injuries and deaths.
Friday, May 13 was an unlucky day for Dartmouth’s College Republicans. A display they created titled “Blue Lives Matter” was torn down by activists for that great bastion of free speech, Black Lives Matter, who then stood guard to prevent the College Republicans from retaliating and oppressing people of color by reclaiming the display that BLM had just reclaimed.
Unfortunately for them, BLM’s tactics often remain the equivalent of street dancers and musicians boarding a subway train to perform to station-to-station captive audiences. It’s annoying and they grant themselves no favors by attempting to convert the uninvolved and indifferent with overly abrasive and aggressive manners.
There’s no reason to rehash the criticisms and valid points of BLM as they’ve been made countless times already. The point of this article is to document a maturation, at least somewhat, in BLM’s rhetoric. Here are excerpts from a release Dartmouth’s chapter of BLM circulated defending their reclamation of the College Republicans display and an incident in which they forced students in Dartmouth’s library to listen to their grievances:
“Today, Friday May 13th the Dartmouth College Republicans reserved a central bulletin board in Collis Atrium. On this board the Dartmouth College Republicans posted the slogan “Blue Lives Matter” FOUR times. By co-opting a movement intended to protect the livelihood of Black people, Blue Lives Matter & #AllLivesMatter facilitates the erasure of black lives. This slogan denies that black bodies are subjected to disproportionate state violence. This has nothing to do with individual police officers…
Our goal is to illuminate the severity of the violence people of color face on this campus. In not challenging this oppression against our bodies, instead reproducing this narrative is actively partaking in this violence. Silencing our narratives. If we didn’t take down the display we would be reproducing a violent narrative that works to silence us in masses.
People are tired. People of color are tired of being made inferior to their peers. We are tired of conservative rhetoric reproducing the same racial stereotypes that have positioned our bodies in a violent, inhumane fashion since slavery…
Fuck your comfort, there is no such thing as neutral existence. Sitting in the library with your headphones in, intensifies this violence against people of color, muting the voices of the movement, the cries of your peers, and the history of inequality. Posting Blue Lives Matter reproduces the idea that All lives matter, again intensifying the violence against people of color. Invalidating individual realities.
We occupy this space, in front of the bulletin board, to guarantee our presence at this institution. Reposting Blue Lives Matter reproduces this violent narrative against people of color, by silencing us. We will not be silenced.”
When I read the BLM self-justification letter, I was reminded of a writer who remains profoundly influential on the methods of contemporary leftists and statists (does anyone doubt that the biggest reason the Left remains a power in politics is their control over the education systems and mainstream media?). I was first force fed the writings of Italian Marxist theorist and politician Antonio Gramsci in one of my grad school indoctrination classes. Gramsci was the godfather of Marxist propaganda. On the topic of partisanship, he wrote:
“I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life. That is why I hate the indifferent.
The indifference is the deadweight of history. The indifference operates with great power on history. The indifference operates passively, but it operates. It is fate, that which cannot be counted on. It twists programs and ruins the best-conceived plans. It is the raw material that ruins intelligence. That what happens, the evil that weighs upon all, happens because the human mass abdicates to their will; allows laws to be promulgated that only the revolt could nullify, and leaves men that only a mutiny will be able to overthrow to achieve the power. The mass ignores because it is careless and then it seems like it is the product of fate that runs over everything and everyone: the one who consents as well as the one who dissents; the one who knew as well as the one who didn’t know; the active as well as the indifferent. Some whimper piously, others curse obscenely, but nobody, or very few ask themselves: If I had tried to impose my will, would this have happened?
I also hate the indifferent because of that: because their whimpering of eternally innocent ones annoys me. I make each one liable: how they have tackled with the task that life has given and gives them every day, what have they done, and especially, what they have not done. And I feel I have the right to be inexorable and not squander my compassion, of not sharing my tears with them.
I am a partisan, I am alive, I feel the pulse of the activity of the future city that those on my side are building is alive in their conscience. And in it, the social chain does not rest on a few; nothing of what happens in it is a matter of luck, nor the product of fate, but the intelligent work of the citizens. Nobody in it is looking from the window of the sacrifice and the drain of a few. Alive, I am a partisan. That is why I hate the ones that don’t take sides, I hate the indifferent.”
A dismissive critic could comment BLM and Gramsci are just offering eloquent ways of saying “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” However, I must admit to a bit of newfound respect for the Black Lives Matter movement. Understand that respect is not the same as admiration nor endorsement; I feel I must include this disclaimer in this article as early as the headline to try to preempt those who read headlines and then rush down into the comments section to make their ridiculous replies (redundancy alert!). A lot of the above excerpts are little more than academic gobbledygook, and I’m assuming Dartmouth BLM activists have learned these fifty-cent words from their professors, but those professors learned the concepts from the Marxists they so adore.
Let’s see if they can apply this new bit of intellectualism, be it forthright or faux, to their movement so that it can evolve into a more honest and logical movement to appeal to the population at large. If BLM can continue evolving in a more intellectual, logical and honest movement, I remain optimistic the desire to end police violence against those who do not deserve it can become one that all reasonable people can support, and that movement can be part of a larger conversation regarding the immorality of the use of force against a populace that wishes only to be free, peaceful and enjoy equal status in relationship to its government.