BLM Hypocrisy

By Fibonacci Blue from Minnesota, USA – Black Lives Matter protest against St. Paul police brutality, CC BY 2.0,

I’ve been active recently on a Facebook group called Faultline, which aims to encourage a discussion between Christians and non-Christians. I made a post there that responded to someone else. That person subsequently decided to remove all posts from their account on the subject and asked me to remove my post, which I did. So I’m posting it here suitably anonymized.

The person commented on a post about Lee’s statue that BLM and antifa don’t care about black lives. Elsewhere they re-posted an old viral post from a black cop. I wanted to respond on the general theme here a little and perhaps understand his position better, and (dare I hope) his of mine.

I came to the US less than a decade ago. I’ve never been pulled over by the police. I remember a few years ago asking an Hispanic colleague how often he had been pulled over. He answered incredulously: “What, you mean this week?”

There are a couple of parts to this that look like hypocrisy to me.

Apparent hypocrisy #1

Let me juxtapose two statements:

1. The police aren’t racist. It’s just a few bad apples

2. The BLM are illegitimate because they allow looting.

So, the police retain legitimacy because it’s not all of them who are racist. But BLM loses legitimacy because some people are looting.

Now my position is exactly reversed and you might accuse me of hypocrisy too, so let me explain why I don’t think it is:

Professionally, I do operational improvement, and I know from experience that organizational behavior is driven by the incentives within the structure. The police are a government body and there is simply no excuse for allowing this behavior. Mistakes do happen, but mistakes that are not corrected by the institution cause the institution to lose legitimacy.

When I moved to this country and started hearing these stories and then discovered that the police officers involved are not just found innocent but are not even tried to begin with, I was shocked. If that does not taint the institution then I don’t what does. I don’t want to imply that all police officers are racist (hopefully that’s obvious). I’m talking about institutional issues that allow these “bad apples” to thrive.

On the other hand, the groups out there fighting for justice are now facing what groups fighting for justice have always faced: ‘Now’s not the right time’; ‘That’s the wrong way to say it’; ‘You’re losing your moral high ground’; etc.

To me, that’s nonsense for a number of reasons. Firstly, these groups are not a cohesive institution, but a movement. So to talk about them as an institution makes no sense. Of course, there are smallish groups of activists but they are in no way in control of the large numbers of people on the street many of whom are unaware of any organizational structure.

Secondly, to ignore the legitimate issues being raised by focusing on fringe efforts looks like making an excuse (and smacks of hypocrisy again, given the blind eye turned to white protestors who were ready to storm a government building because they didn’t want to wear masks or they wanted a haircut or whatever their issue was).

Thirdly, and perhaps this should have been first, property is not more precious than people. Trevor Noah‘s statement on this is important to watch I think, where he talks about the social contract that has already been broken.

Trevor Noah: The broken social contract

John Oliver also does a great piece on this, and the video clip he shows at the end should echo through our minds as we consider this situation.

John Oliver: Last Week Tonight – Police

And finally, here’s an old but important cartoon on how privilege works: