Politics & Policy

What Would It Take for Progressives to Reject Black Lives Matter?

Black Lives Matter protesters in Philadelphia, Pa., July 26, 2016. (Reuters photo: Dominick Reuter)
The Left is countenancing a radical, dangerous movement.

If Black Lives Matter were conservative, it would already be one of the most discredited and despised movements in American history. Can you imagine the elite Left’s reaction to a conservative movement built on a founding lie that has incited riots, inspired shootings of police, and correlated with an astounding and deadly increase in violent crime in America’s major cities?

It’s the latter point that will leave the most enduring legacy. Today the Wall Street Journal reported that 16 of the top 20 cities in the United States have endured year-to-date increases in homicide, with Chicago’s murder rate reaching levels “not seen since the violent drug wars of the 1990s.” And this increase comes after 2015’s troubling increase in murders. Together, the 2015 and 2016 crime spikes have left hundreds of black men dead in the streets, with women and even children victimized by stray bullets.

There’s emerging evidence that correlation may veer into causation, too. Months ago, the center-left website FiveThirtyEight found that Chicago gun violence spiked just as arrests decreased in the aftermath of the release of video evidence in the controversial Laquan McDonald shooting. “A similar decline in police activity and increase in violence occurred in Baltimore” in the aftermath of the Freddy Gray controversy.

This is the much-discussed “Ferguson effect,” the hypothesis that anti-police protests lead to decreased discretionary police activity and increased crime. The Ferguson Effect — first advanced by the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald — was the most “plausible” explanation for 2015’s increase in violent crime, according to a Justice Department-funded study. The “other explanations [had] a difficult time . . . explaining the timing and magnitude of the increase.”

Indeed, the correlation between increased violent crime and public police controversies is so pronounced and obvious that liberal researchers such as criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, one of the authors of the study quoted above, are busy redefining the Ferguson Effect, claiming that “controversial police incidents” activate “longstanding grievances and discontent with policing,” and then “chronic discontent erupts into violence.”

Yet even under this theory, the malignant effect of Black Lives Matter is evident. It’s easy to activate discontent with lies, and if local and national activists keep saying, “hands up, don’t shoot” — the lie that launched the Ferguson riots — or falsely claiming that Charlotte’s Keith Lamont Scott was holding a book and not a gun when Charlotte police shot him, then the blame for the riots and violence that follow rests with them, not with police.

As a declaration, Black Lives Matter is simple, unarguable truth. As a movement, it’s poisonous.

Rather than ask (for them) the hard questions, all too many journalists are scrambling to minimize the tragic increase in homicide. They characterize the largest increases in decades as “slight” and consistently emphasize and re-emphasize that crime is still well below its historic highs. That is no doubt true, but the concern isn’t that we’re back in the middle of the crack wars; it’s that emerging cultural and political trends may be costing hundreds of lives.

Rarely have I seen more good people hoodwinked by a slogan, unaware of the radical and destructive organization and activists that lurk beneath. As a declaration, Black Lives Matter is simple, unarguable truth. As a movement, it’s poisonous.

Well-meaning white Christians, eager for racial reconciliation, have flocked to its banner. White progressives, suckers for every radical black movement, celebrate its leaders. They don’t know or don’t care that the organization proclaims itself to be “committed” to “disrupting the western-prescribed nuclear family” and calls cop-killers such as Huey Newton, Michael Finley, Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill its brothers.

#related#Black Lives Matter is one of the founding churches of the new religion of anti-racism, a secular faith that views every significant event or trend in the United States through the prism of race, and seeks to remake the nation from the ground up to purge it of its historical sins. Oddly enough, when boiled down to its essence, the new religion of anti-racism looks a lot like the older religions of Marxism and socialism, complete with hostility to capitalism and a destructive rejection of Judeo-Christian moral norms. Black Lives Matter just changes the pretext for revolution.

As the carnage increases, we’re still waiting on Democrats and leading progressives to muster the courage to denounce a movement that’s more radical than their party, more violent than their ideology. I expect we’ll be waiting a long time. Black Lives Matter still has its hold on the Left, and I fear that grip won’t loosen until there are more lies told and more bodies in the streets.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.