Stop "Helping": How the Alt-Left's Hijacking of Black Lives Matter is Hurting the Cause for Racial Justice

How Many "Bad Apples"? Abolish the Police sign. Protesters along 38th Street in Minneapolis on Tuesday after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Black lives matter. But support for what people see as the ideas of Black Lives Matter movement is now, for the first time since last summer, a minority proposition.

Between last June and now, perceptions of the Black Lives Matter movement has lost 12 points in public support. That loss has been nearly uniform across racial lines: white support has dropped by 12 points, and support for the ideas of BLM has dropped among Black Americans by 9 points.

In the latest CBS News/YouGov poll, 48% of respondents said they support the ideas expressed by the BLM movement, compared with 60% who said the same in June of last year.

Most concerningly, the lion’s share of the erosion of support comes from a drop in support of people who say they strongly support the ideas expressed, and particularly the loss of strong support among Black Americans: while overall ‘strong’ agreement dropped from 33% in June to 26% now (a 7-point decrease), ‘among Black Americans it dropped by a whopping 13 points.

In June, almost two thirds - 65% - of Black Americans were in strong agreement with ideas expressed by the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, barely half (52%) are.

This loss of support, I submit, is in large part due to the actions of radical elements who have hijacked the movement for racial justice and inserted anticapitalist propaganda to justify vigilante violence and abolition of police. Ironically, these radical left elements are - in contrast with the core of the movement for Black lives - overwhelmingly white and white-centered.

Some American cities, like Portland, OR, have suffered for an entire year at the hands of those who, under the guise of demanding justice for police violence, see fit to commit violence against those same communities that they pretend to care about. They are a small group, and I will not give them the respect of grouping them with peaceful demonstrators who exemplify the very best of democratic traditions, but the violent cowards who conceal their own identities are deeply damaging to both community and cause. Some have even contended that property destruction they commit is no big deal.

Portland leaders are finally, belatedly, beginning to take action to protect their communities from violent, domestic terrorist, criminal elements. They’re doing the right thing, not just to physically protect their communities but to serve the cause of justice. Better late than never.

For those who believe destroying property is not violence, I only have one question: if a US drone strike demolishes a building in a middle eastern country, should we file that under diplomatic protest?

Of course property destruction is violence. The Trump-supporting domestic terrorists who overran the barricades, smashed in windows to break into the Capitol, and destroyed property in Congressional offices - even if they did not personally partake in beating a police officer - were violent criminals. And so is every anarchist who smashes windows, destroys businesses, and trash neighborhoods.

Smashing windows in and of themselves would be bad enough, but the fact that business large and small serve the people who live in the neighborhoods where the protests are being held - the same people the anarcho-leftists claim to care about - makes the damage that much worse. Starbucks may be a big company, but the people who work there deserve a safe, clean, and intact workplace, and the people who frequent it deserve their neighborhood spot. Smashing the glass walls of a building with a big developer label might feel like rage against the machine, but the small accountant who runs rents an office of one in that building is robbed out of their property and livelihood.

The logic of property crimes not being violence or even real crimes is not only bonkers, it is also something the people who spread that message don’t actually believe. It’s an excuse to take out their aggression on innocent people. And until their own windows are the first ones they smash, they will continue to be privileged hypocrites.

The violence of far-left terrorists is deeply intertwined with the far-left, white-centered, populist demand to defund and abolish the police.

R. H. Lossin, a white academic and a representative of the radical anticapitalist intelligentsia, in the pages of The Nation who openly celebrated property violence against mostly Black and brown communities makes the inseverable connection herself: “the object of these protests is the defunding of racist, murderous police departments.”

Looking at the polling, I don’t think most Black people agree. In an August poll, 81% of Black respondents wanted to maintain or increase police presence in their communities.

The vast majority of Black people, unlike white and white-centered alt-leftists, do not have the luxury of looking at this as an academic issue or an isolated one: systemic and deadly racism pervades every system - including health care and education in the United States - and Black people bear the brunt of the violence caused by chronic community underinvestment as well as pay the price of white radicals wanting to feel good about themselves.

In addition to your run-of-the-mill criminals, people in many neighborhoods now also have to suffer through the violence of those who hide, like cowards, among peaceful protesters, taking the first opportunity to trash neighborhoods and streets, and let the peaceful protesters take the blame for their violence. Those who commit these acts of vandalism and violence amidst protests, it may (or may not) surprise you to know, are mostly young white males. Data from Portland last year showed that 8 in 10 people referred for protest-related prosecutions for arson and vandalism were white.

When protests filled the streets in America in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a now-convicted criminal in uniform, I said that the most constructive role white people who wanted to help could play was to be a human shield between riot police and peaceful Black protesters. They did not. Instead, Black people ended up having to defend property and even police officers from violent anarcho-leftists.

At this point, white and white-centered alt-leftists should do the next best thing: stop “helping.”

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