That’s what I want to know

Here’s my big reason to care about the #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter jousting match. I’m not the sentimental sort. I don’t have a deeply personal interest in the deeply personal pain countless families are feeling, whether by race, or by innocence of victim, or even the families of the police. If I spent time on those feelings, it would just be sadness. My sadness and $5 will get you a cup of fancy coffee somewhere. My reason is abstract, because any particular dead person is a particular case of a general phenomenon, and might not adhere to any particular script very well.

I’m even cynical enough to consider the striking possibility that both sides are “wrong” depending on how one defines the sides and defines what they mean by wrong.

What is happening is what the commenter here points out.

I’m sharing these horrific cases to press into your mind that a legal & practical precedent is being created for the ease of black death.

Every time a cop walks away from a clearly dirty kill, and we hear about it and blow it off because of race, or independent of race, or because the perp “had it coming” depending on which horse-race media one consumes, or worse, we don’t even hear about it, precedent is set for how we choose to be policed as a country.

Remember what Martin Niemoller said:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The players have changed, but the idea is the same.

If one is worried about the direction the country is headed in, and is worried about the power of the state, one might do really well to think about this. How we let police police the people we don’t notice or care about is how the state will police all of us eventually if we’re not careful.

#BlackLivesMatter just doesn’t work for me, because it’s either preaching to the choir or just immediately blocking out anyone I might want to persuade. They’ll just toss off a glib #AllLivesMatter, and usurp my moment of feeling morally superior.

#AllLivesMatter doesn’t work for me because it just misses the point at best and seems like especially saccharine hypocrisy at second worse. At worst? Rank cowardice, as when it’s used by self-aware racists that are too chickenshit to own it publicly. Why be ashamed if there’s no shame in it?

No, I think what I’d like to see is, to my way of thinking, a neutral, more formulaic hashtag. One that gets at the question of how we should police the police. How about #WhichCorpsesMatter? The bully pulpit is now open. Precedent will be set. It’s just a matter of which.

Should we let things stay the way they are, maybe gradually get more and more biased in favor of whatever kind of policing the police wish to do with less accountability and less transparency? That’s one way it could trend. #BlueLivesMatter, after all.

Should we let the fox guard the henhouse? Should we do something to make investigations into police shooting more independent and transparent? How about a special state prosecutor’s office that must charge when independent investigation recommends charges, cutting the local DA out of the delicate position created by obvious and abundant conflicts of interest.

#WhichCorpsesMatter? When, exactly, should we not hold our police to the highest standards? Is there a particular kind of dead body, dead of police treatment, for which we don’t care to find out whether its death was just or unjust?

I’d love to be able to say #AllCorpsesMatter, but that’s just not true, either. If it were, we wouldn’t need to have articles like this, now would we?

1 reply »

  1. The black lives matter movement seems to be about a lot more than just summary executions Frank. It’s about a couple hundred years of getting the short end of the stick. It’s about grieving for all the lives past present and future that have been and will be shunted,subjected,subverted. And ultimately about waking up middle America to the fact that racism is alive and well.

    Is it working? Maybe, among the thinkers of society anyway. But every action creates equal and opposite reaction and there sure is a lot of fulminating anger from the white peanut gallery in response to it.

    My two problems with BLM are first, the “shut up and listen” tone of the argument which is probably fair but very annoying. And second that it’s exclusionary of all the other minorities that have equal (or greater in the case of native Americans) grievance.

    You made me think, thanks!