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August 19, 2016 2:35 am

Black Lives Matter — But the Movement Is Flawed

avatar by Jeremy Rosen

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Black Lives Matter protesters on  July  17, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Jose Lopez, from Black Lives Matter website.

Black Lives Matter protesters on July 17, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Jose Lopez, from Black Lives Matter website.

Black Lives Matter indeed, and so they ought to, all the more for what African-Americans have had to endure. But the organization, however noble and justified its beginnings, is in serious danger of marginalizing and undermining itself. For the sake of its cause, I hope it does not fall further into a political trap.

There can be no doubt that black human beings, as well as many others, both of color and of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, have been treated atrociously in the US (and almost everywhere else in the world, regardless of political or religious creed). For all the moral piety of the Declaration of Independence, which stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” it took a bloody civil war to abolish slavery.

It was not until President Lyndon B. Johnson helped secure the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (we can argue about Eisenhower), making racial discrimination and segregation illegal, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which abolished the poll tax and other means of keeping blacks and poor people from voting, that the US began to take these noble sentiments seriously.

Despite all this, and the fact that a portion of the black population has reached the pinnacles of American society, large numbers of black (and other) citizens remain confined to poor areas with substandard education, housing and employment. A disproportionate number of blacks sit in American jails, and systemic prejudice remains endemic in pockets throughout the country. Some police forces have a terrible record of discrimination, and poor areas suffering from chemical contamination, like Flint, have been ignored (and sadly there are plenty of other examples of contaminated water across the US that have not been addressed). Clearly, neither money nor access to local government (Baltimore’s administration is almost entirely black), nor affirmative action has resolved what seems to be an intractable problem.

Is there a solution? I cannot think of one. I was brought up in a different culture, one that admittedly believed that self-help was the only way. But then Jews could always hide their identity if they chose to, and most did. Doctrinaire socialism has not found a solution other than blaming others. On the contrary, too often trade unions hold back progress in all these areas, either out of political correctness or vested interest in preserving their power bases and privileges.

That is why the only solution I see is for those who care to speak out, to campaign, to agitate peacefully against prejudice wherever it occurs.

But Black Lives Matter is in danger, unless it wakes up, of becoming another left-wing, political, ideological, lunatic fringe group — as guilty of prejudice and close-mindedness as any other special interest sector of American society, precisely because it has fallen into bed with crackpot extremists who have pushed it to adopt ideological lies that only prove that it is just as politicized as those it claims to speak out against. And politicization only holds back progress. No better example exists than that of civil rights campaigner Al Sharpton, who for all his noise, bluster, and publicity for more than fifty years has achieved bubkas other than self-promotion and wealth.

There is a wider coalition (which Black Lives Matter has allied itself with), called the Movement for Black Lives, which has expanded its remit to deal with universal examples of prejudice and discrimination that it blames on American imperialism. Nothing, you notice, against oppression of human rights by other states, religions, and races. In its manifesto, published on August 1, it pokes its nose into the Israel-Palestine conflict and uses terms that are not only deceitful, but plain and simply wrong. Its motive can only be to ally itself with myopic left-wing ideology and closed minds, and those, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who deny Jews equal rights. You will notice that it says nothing about Indian occupation of Muslim Kashmir.

It claims that the occupation of Palestinian territory is only due to Israeli intransigence and white imperialism, and that everything wrong in the Middle East is America’s fault for supporting Israel. It repeats the tropes of black antisemites, such as Louis Farrakhan and Malcolm X, who thought that Israel was the sole aggressor, rather than an expression of a persecuted people for home rule. It erroneously thinks that blacks have more in common with Muslims than with Christians, and ignore the fact that Muslim traders were more responsible for slavery, both in time and numbers — and that most slaves were sold to the Americas by black African chieftains for personal gain. Sadly, everyone’s hands were sullied by that inhuman trade to some degree, and to pick on only one to blame is simply historical ignorance, if not rabble-rousing prejudice. Unfortunately, this spurious black narrative has infected a whole generation, including novelist Toni Morrison, bestseller Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Bernie Sanders supporters who blame Israel for everything you care to mention.

By applying terms like apartheid or genocide to Israel’s attempts to protect itself (while waiting for a negotiated peace agreement, having relinquished the occupation of Gaza) that betrays prejudice, whether it comes from Jew or non-Jew, black or white. Genocide means destroying a people, but under Israel, the Palestinian population has risen not fallen. No mass graves of executed civilians or gassed populations have been found, whereas all this is common amongst its declared enemies.

If Black Lives Matter is dedicated to removing discrimination in the US, we should support it wholeheartedly and campaign for it. But if, like the UN, it allies itself uncritically with movements that have political agendas like The Movement of Black Lives, which sticks its nose uncritically into other complicated and complex conflicts, coming down on one side only, I will accuse it of dishonesty, prejudice, and mal intent. It will be in danger of becoming just another corrupt, self-serving political movement. If it continues to support The Movement for Black Lives, it will wither on its own vine.

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  • Let’s talk epistemology of African people in general. Groups of people movement do rise in physical environments political conditions. Once in the 80s I was told that Africans are our forefathers in Berlin Museum when watching Africans diverse wood sculptors. What was interesting was that all sculptures were very deferent from each other by African country locations. Which means that African people do differ from each other by character, the question is no matter characters, what makes a character to lose it self. Does Black Lives Matters more than other people? Did white men lose them selves? Some writers did wrote “Adieu Europe”, we are living in time of transformation by political remotes which does makes groups of people possible to miss the point of their goals. Judaism and Christianity did move to Africa before they moved to Europe which to day Israel has black Jews from Ethiopia which do face injustice just as Afro American does in US. We love to see African arts and listen to African Jazz music, but that does not help! We do no live in parties! For the African people to be able do discover their unique characters for justice to be achieved among men, they must learn other men diverse characters which is very sophisticated, it is a full theater face colors games making often men into believing a reality which do not exist. Which it is the reason for the Black Life’s Matters to rise! It is only a US matter which has nothing to do with other countries intern affairs. Whatever it is, when man does attack another man brain, he becomes an idiot, which we observe in the media TV shows! Can Black Life Matters to effort to become en idiotic movement?

    • Jane

      You are extremely dumb. “Just as they do in the US” Ethiopian Jews were saved from starvation, and were never slaves in Israel. How evil and abusive people get to the Jews. Again it is hard to comprehend how dumb you are. Ethiopians came to Israel voluntarily not by force. Again it is hard to comprehend how dumb you are. Israel has ever denied them the right to vote. Again how abusive you are to the Jews. Why? Because the media lies about Israel?

      Is there any evil like antisemitism, I ask?

      The Catholic Church invented that any bad propaganda must be made to include the Jews equally.

    • Jane

      More dumb besides what I mentioned already, your ridiculous claim that “Judaism and Christianity did move to Africa before they moved to Europe”? Brainwashed much?

      Start with xtianity. John of Patmos; a European island wrote the Book of Revelations. No book of the New Testament had been written in Africa. Paul visited Europe. The NT was written either in a European language, or an Asian as some surmise parts of it may have originally been written.

      Judaism: Judaism comes from Asia from and empire called Babylon and a far west Asian country called Israel. The final books were written by people living under a Greek empire with Greek names. The Hasmoneans mixed with Greeks married them and used Greek European names. Though Egypt is technically Africa, where non-Jews first read the Torah, that area of Africa at the time was ruled by Greece, the ruling class of the time was white skinned, and then Rome, even well below Egypt whites ruled North Africa in the form of the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians depicted themselves as white, not once but thousands of times. Also the European Hittite empire ruled northern Israel, before the Jews even got there.

      ISlam reached Africa before it reached Europe or Byzantium.
      Mohamed was African. The first countries Islam forcefully converted were African. The early Islamic armies were heavily mixed with Africans. Byzantium was olive skinned up until that point (that of the second Caliph of the Khouresh tribe).

  • Elliott Sadle

    Mr. Rosen, it is already too late. Black Lives Matter is already a far left hate group.

  • Malcolm

    By seeking to become part of the “intersectional” community, Black Lives Matter has already demonstrated that it is more interested in acquiring power for itself than in improving the life experience of Black people.

    All American ought to consider that race relations have gotten worse during a period when the president and the attorneys general have all been Black. We ought to be thinking seriously about why.

  • Ted Crawford

    On the contrary, Mr. Rosen; Black Lives Matter, The Movement for Black Lives and other organizations like them will flourish and grow more extreme in the present environment, which is a rich, fetid cesspool of hate. White Deaths Matter! G_d help us all…

  • Luz Bridgewater

    Your article wasn’t an honest article in terms of the Black Lives Matter movement and the motivation(s) which are endless to work on bringing an end to what is evil and underhanded in our society. We realize your audience is a Jewish one and you in a very lazily “written” article have served your readers more nonsense only to make them feel good about themselves as well as making sure that you keep the Anti-BDS movement going. In truth if you support bringing the end of injustice then you should support Black Lives Matter. But now the wall will get exposed if scratched, because you do not go into whether the Jewish people in the USA contribute to the problem, exacerbate the problems, or relieve them in anyway. We give credit on the one hand that Jewish people are some of the greatest supporters and we also know that maybe a small number of Jewish people prey upon the members of the Black community in any number of ways they can. So your article is condescending at best to most Blacks and a misrepresentation of the facts to your own readers.

    • sh

      Seems you have it exactly opposite. You are the lazy one. It is blacks who are obsessing on a conflict relating to the Jewish State ‘contribute to the problem” you are the ones contributing to the problem against the group the most hate are committed. Hating Israel, trying to destroy it, which is colonialism, and working with Islamists, Israel a country 20,0000 kilomoters away, and again, it is the Jewish country.

      Now find the Jews who are actively trying to straight, openly destroy any African country. None? I thought not. Not in your conviluted mind, but straight, as you are trying to do to the Jews, also you have a continent, the most persecuted people in human history, have barely one state. And political blacks have developed the same hate-obsession with it, that Islam and white Europe has.

  • diane

    Very well written. Wake up my black brothers and sisters, it’s the fanatics that want to shift the blame against the jewish people,but you have some of these two face white people protesting against the jews and I bet most of them are ISIS along with terrorist stirring up hatred that the jews are against blacks. Yea right all I have to say is wake up my Black Americans brothers and sisters don’t let these fanatic haters use you and trap you into their hatred lonely life. This is how they all treated you for 100’s of years, you have been taken into slavery by the Brits, French,US,Spain etc.. They try to throw off the stink and smell off of them self’s and you are all falling for it. Wake Up