On his Fox News show last week, Tucker Carlson, apparently the newest President Trump whisperer, baselessly labeled Black Lives Matter a “terrorist organization.” For good measure he declared, Black people “are coming for you.”
This kind of right-wing fear mongering is nothing new, nor is Carlson’s on-air racism. Republicans did it in the run-up to the post-9/11 2004 election and again in 2016, when Trump made racism a central theme of his presidential campaign. It plays to the supposed grievances and resentment his base feels toward communities of color.
After white vigilante George Zimmerman was acquitted for stalking, shooting and killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2013, BLM was founded as a decentralized movement to draw public attention to the needless deaths of Black people at the hands of guys like Zimmerman.
Since then, many other unarmed Black men and women have been killed by police officers. When George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop while he lay face down and handcuffed, that was the last straw, not only for Blacks, but people of all races.
A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 60% of white, 77% of Hispanic, 75% of Asian and 86% of Black Americans either "strongly support" or "somewhat support" BLM.
Carlson and other media racists know most in their audiences won’t bother themselves to learn what BLM is and is not (visit the website). They’re playing the race card from the bottom of the deck hoping to stoke more division, more fear, and perhaps even more violence against people of color.
Multimillionaire Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the Atlanta Dream WNBA team and currently locked in a tight race for her seat, joined the conservative race-baiting chorus by condemning her league’s endorsement of BLM. Loeffler claimed, without citing any evidence, BLM is “based on Marxist principles,” that it will “destroy” the country, and BLM is “anti-Semitic and doesn’t support the nuclear family.”
These irresponsible words echo the president’s racial dog whistling and are clearly heard by certain white folks who sometimes act on them. Social media is filled with acts hate and violence directed at minorities captured on cellphone video.
I’ve watched at least a dozen just over the last week. At a public campground in Indiana, for example, a bunch of white hooligans held a Black man down and threatened to lynch him for “trespassing.”
BLM is not a mob of punks or thugs. Some have conflated those who commit crimes during protests with the many who march in support this social justice movement. BLM disavows violence, rioting and looting while encouraging peaceful protests and a national dialogue about race relations among all Americans of good will.
That discussion needs to include monuments and statues dedicated to the Confederacy. Many of these went up throughout the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when Jim Crow laws oppressed Blacks and the Ku Klux Klan enjoyed widespread support. Many today regard these as abhorrent symbols of white supremacy. Why are they there in this day and age if so many Americans object?
Confederate cemeteries, on the other hand, should be left alone. Most of them contain the graves of ill-educated, poor white men who were misled by wealthy slave owners into believe the fight was about states’ rights, not saving the elites’ “peculiar institution.”
I’m not sure about the Founders who owned slaves, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The late 18th century was a different time and place and they didn’t go to war over slavery. But they undeniably made their fortunes on the backs of enslaved Black people.
Lucian Truscott IV is a talented commentator who writes for Salon. A West Point graduate, he’s also a direct descendant of Jefferson who said monuments and statues dedicated to his ancestor should be removed. Truscott believes Jefferson’s Monticello home in Charlottesville, Virginia, is testament enough to his legacy.
Conservative politicians like Loeffler have been clutching their pearls over calls to defund police. As BLM co-founder Alicia Garza told NBC News, that means rethinking and retooling the current policing model and realigning funds to serve communities with more and better social services. She notes past police reforms largely haven’t worked as evidenced by police encounters with unarmed Blacks that turn deadly.
"Are we willing to live in fear that our lives will be taken by police officers who are literally using their power in the wrong way?" she asked. "Or are we willing to adopt and absorb the fear of what it might mean to change our practices, which will ultimately lead to a better quality of life for everyone."
All lives matter, including those of our police, most of whom comport themselves professionally while risking their lives to protect and serve. It’s a noble calling, but one with enormous authority and enormous responsibilities that must be uniformly applied, which is BLM’s point.