Breaking down 7 of the biggest talking points of the current BLM saga
In the wake of the tragic event in Minneapolis, where a police officer murdered a defenseless black man, we are now in the second national crisis of 2020. And just like the last one, there are a lot of arguments out there being made from all sides of the political aisle. I would like to take the opportunity to go through some of the less compelling arguments I’ve heard and explain why it’s a bad point. Of course, this will not be all-encompassing, so I apologize if I leave out your favorite.
Defund The Police
I can’t believe that this is even a talking point. Let’s just look at how we got here. Until now, the call has been for police reform. There was a push for a change in police tactics, body cameras, and training. That’s all gone. Make no mistake about it. “Defund the police” is exactly what it sounds like. If you look at the BLM website, they make no attempt to further explain what it means. This is literally all it says: “We call for a national defunding of police. We demand investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive.” Removing the funding from police is the same thing as killing it. Think back to when Republicans removed the funding mechanism for Obamacare. The goal is to have the defunded institution die a slow death. Now, good practices would be to push for reform (which until six seconds ago was the push). I would like to push for reasons to remove unnecessary interactions between police and civilians that have the potential to escalate. My idea: Ban ticket quotas! This is one area I could get behind defunding. There is no need to force police into manufacturing fines. If you are forcing police officers to fund their own jobs, you are doing policing wrong. In general, police have too much power, so reform is always going to be welcome. But if you live in a city that is moving towards defunding, especially without a plan to replace it, wait until you see how fast people leave.
All Lives Matter
I really wish people would stop saying this. Yes, we are aware that all lives matter. That is not the point. The point made by the BLM movement is that they feel that there are those out there who think that the lives of black people don’t matter as much as others. When you respond to someone saying “black lives matter” by claiming that “all lives matter,” firstly, you are somehow agreeing and disagreeing with them at the same time. However, you are definitely not addressing the issue, and are therefore making a strawman argument. The phrase “black lives matter” does not mean that other lives don’t matter. It is not saying that black lives matter more than white lives or than the lives of police officers, or than any other sector of the community. It is arguing that there is a section of the community that should matter as much as everyone else, but it looks like it doesn’t.
White Children Need To Be Exposed To The Horrors Of Reality
This idea is based on a commercial run by the children’s television station Nickelodeon. The commercial was 8 minutes and 45 seconds long. It is a black screen with breathing sounds and the words “I CAN’T BREATHE” in print. Remember, this is a children’s television network. It wasn’t a primetime NBC show or some network only watched by adults; this commercial was targeted at kids. Many parents don’t want to expose their children to this information at the age appropriate for the rest of the programming. The argument then became: “If black kids have to live with these realities of life, white kids should too.”
Okay, let’s take this from a few different angles. Firstly, just because some kids have to live with certain realities doesn’t mean others do. Unfortunately, many kids die each year from cancer. Should an otherwise healthy five-year-old be forced to learn about cancer? It’s the reality of some kids (through no fault of their own or their parents), so why shouldn’t others be forced to be exposed to it? Secondly, this argument in equality is the reverse of what we have been seeing forever. Look at any other equality issue. Healthcare: It’s always been that the poor should have the same healthcare access as the rich. Housing: We need to make housing more affordable so everyone can live. It’s always been trying to turn a negative part of people’s lives into a positive. Now we are reversing it. We are forcing those with the positive to be turned into the negative. And we’re doing it with kids. Imagine it in any other argument. Poor people can’t afford housing and healthcare, so we’ll take it away from those who can. And worse, we’re doing it with kids. Some kids lose their innocence, so all must. This is obviously wrong.
I Don’t Support BLM Because The Organization Is Anti-Semitic
It is true that a lot of the BLM organization has pushed some pretty bad, and often off-point narratives about Israel. At many BLM rallies, you can hear cries for justice in Palestine and that Israel is an apartheid state. But let’s get three things clear.
You need to be able to back a cause even if you don’t believe in everything it stands for. I like most of what the Republican Party does. I can still hate and condemn the things I don’t like.
The official BLM website does not have a stance on Israel. While the members of the organization do, and those who attend rallies have made it clear that they do, it’s not an official platform of the movement.
You can and should support the idea that black lives matter without supporting Black Lives Matter.
The Current Protests Subverts The Dangers Of COVID
As a public health professional, I am embarrassed by the recent letter from the public health community promoting the importance of, and encouraging people to, protest - from a public health perspective. What makes it egregious is that the same letter condemns all other protests. There are a number of ways to interpret this stance, but I am going to take the most generous interpretation: COVID is still extremely dangerous, but there are certain areas of life that are more dangerous and therefore take precedence. Obviously, the decimation of the economy, the dismantling of rights enumerated in the constitution, and all of the secondary issues that come with them do not take precedence. But police brutality is so important and is such a threat to life that it alone can supersede the social distancing rules.
But is it really? In all of 2019, 1,098 people were killed by police in the United States. This number includes every killing that year, even if it was justified, even if it was a white person, and even if the “victim” was actively shooting at police. As of writing, COVID has killed over 111,000 people in three months. COVID is over 100x deadlier than police brutality. I don’t understand how people who call themselves “public health experts” and epidemiologists can ignore math so blatantly.
Why Doesn’t Black On Black Crime Matter?
Another strawman argument used in this conversation is, “Why is this only a story when a cop kills a black man? Why doesn’t the BLM crowd care about black-on-black crime? Why aren’t they trying to fix Chicago? Where’s the outrage for David Dorn, the retired black St. Louis police captain who was killed by looters when he tried to stop them?” The answer to this is simple: The police are supposed to be there to protect us. They are granted authority over civilians. When a cop tells you to do something, you’d better listen. If a random person tells you to do something, you can choose to ignore. Because of the authority and the power they have been granted, it’s always a bigger deal if they commit the murder. Police brutality is real. Police exercising their authority past their charge is real. It happens every day. That doesn’t mean they all do it. It doesn’t even mean they mostly do it. It does mean that it’s real. David Dorn’s murder was extremely tragic, and his assailants have been caught, and will likely be going away for longer than George Floyd’s. It doesn’t mean that David Dorn is less tragic than George Floyd. The difference isn’t the victim; it’s the perpetrator.
Colin Kaepernick Was Right
For those new to the story, in 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the singing of the national anthem in protest of the ways that black people were being treated in the country. Eventually, he changed it to taking a knee. There are actually two points here. The first is that the type of protest in which Kaepernick was participating should be encouraged. This one is correct. This is the essence of a perfect non-violent protest. It wasn’t illegal, nobody was hurt, and it was effective. People discussed this ad nauseum for years, and will continue to do so long after Kaepernick is gone. We should all praise Kaepernick for being able to generate this much discussion without saying a word or causing physical damage, and you can bet your life that I’d prefer that protest to the riots, destruction, and murder that we’re seeing today. However, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with his message. If his message was that police and governmental crimes against black people are more easily shrugged off, I see no evidence of that from this case. In case you missed it, the officer who killed George Floyd was fired, arrested, and charged with second degree murder. Three others were fired and arrested. Nobody is dismissing this case. Floyd’s death should have never happened, but the vision of America that the Kaepernick protests were putting forward, one that allowed black people to be killed without repercussion, is not evident in this case.
I hope this clears ups some of the bad arguments you’ve been hearing. There are plenty of good arguments and discussions out there. If you want to add any, please reach out to me on twitter @izwiren, and I’d be glad to discuss further.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.