Back in 2016 my pal Anne Sorock of Frontier Lab (now the Frontier Center, on whose board I sit) conducted a study of Black Lives Matter activists titled “The Privileged and the Oppressed,” a deep-dive market-research investigation into how BLM was (is) at its essence conduit for what she called “Progressives’ latest narrative.” At the time of its release I wrote about the report in the hopes of alerting conservatives as to what was at stake with this organization, as to its tactics and goals, as to how it was to be a tool for the broader Left, as to what it would vilify as it sought its objective. It all bears repeating.
As to it being the edge of the Left’s wedge: Anne’s research concluded that BLM was a unique and powerful means — and most definitely not a fleeting opportunity — for a phalanx of causes to achieve political and cultural success. From the report’s introduction:
Black Lives Matter as a movement represents the hopes and dreams of leftist organizers who shared with us that, until now, they had never felt such a sense of hope and excitement that their goal – as one operative put it, “total social upheaval,” and “systemic change” – could be realized in their lifetime. From veteran agitators like the Weather Underground’s Bill Ayers to a new crop of social-media-wielding female and LGBTQ leaders, Black Lives Matter is encapsulating the hopes and dreams of multiple generations of progressives in a way, they say, no movement has before.
The three female founders of the movement have made it clear, and the message has seeded itself as far down the chain as the operatives we spoke with, that Black Lives Matter is the vessel through which all progressive causes can ﬂow. LGBTQ, illegal immigration, abortion, and countless other causes are simmering just beneath the public face of the focus on police violence. Even police violence ﬂows neatly, according to Black Lives Matter, into economic violence – wage issues, workers rights . . . The panoply of leftist groups come together under this banner.
Cop Hate is critical and central to BLM’s strategy, because by vilifying the police, by portraying individual officers and departments in general as racist, despite clear evidence refuting “systemic” charges, it will achieve the objective of harming the principle of the rule of law. That is vital. And when that happens, the Left will strike and strike hard, and in many places, strike with impunity. Also from the report’s introduction:
Black Lives Matter presents an alternative view of the American story, rooted in Marxism and one that thrives on encouraging division. Many have criticized its avoidance of facts about bias in policing — facts that would directly counter the Black Lives Matter narrative. Nevertheless, it has captured the nation’s attention through its use of social-media and cameras but also by recruiting the young Americans who will ﬁ ll the streets with their presence and engage the public’s interest with their fervor.
If Black Lives Matter succeeds, it will have reengineered the minds of America to view our system, our history, and our future, through the lens of division and hate. In its dishonest weakening of public trust in the police ofﬁcer, the representative of law and order and equality before the law, Black Lives Matter weakens the very foundations of our country.
To counter this advance, marketers of freedom must understand why they are losing mindshare to the left’s Black Lives Matter ideology if they are to effectively counter their messages and rebuild demand for our principles.
The beauty, if you will, of BLM’s Cop Hate strategy is that it gives protestors actual foes, living and breathing, precincts, fat, juicy targets, as opposed to faceless programs or inert principles:
The police, as representatives of the state, must be messaged as exemplifying the Black Lives Matter framing by being themselves oppressive and racist.
Focusing vitriol against law enforcement ofﬁcers is way to translate a political ideology (Marxism) into a tangible enemy that adherents can picture, encounter, and target. By seeking out stories of potential (founded and unfounded) injustices perpetrated by police and encouraging mass outrage in reaction to them, BLM is able to channel the emotion their message fosters against an enemy people can see. . . .
Nevertheless, Black Lives Matter has captured the nation’s attention by arguing that a systemic problem exists in the use of deadly force in a disproportionate way against Black Americans. The message continues to resonate and be repeated, despite factual challenges.
Nearly every Black Lives Matter activist we spoke with, including the operatives responsible for crafting and selling-in the message of the movement, stressed that this was about a systemic problem in society – racism built into the fabric of the nation. But perhaps even more important, by proving to the American public that police violence exists, BLM is able to then jump to the conclusion that other types of “violence” against the community do as well: “economic violence,” for example, as low wages in the Black community signify.
Key to BLM’s strategy is suppressing free speech and dissent, by means of force and intimidation if necessary. And so it has come to pass that if you stand on the sidewalk to oppose a protest, you will get a concrete shake bounced off your head, (the assailant will not be charged) and a tweet of repute will result in a pink slip. The Orwellian media — a force multiplier for BLM’s messaging — seems not to notice the suppression of free-speech rights. Heck, they don’t see riots and fires before their cameras. From the report (again, keep in mind it was written in 2016):
The Black Lives Matter movement is wholly against dissent and freedom of speech and their success rests upon the silencing of dissent, but they are savvy enough to accomplish this through other means than solely legal. First, Black Lives Matter has created an atmosphere where forces more emotionally compelling than “truth-seeking” encourage fealty through the threatened stigma of being an outsider, and discourage diversity of opinion. Through our research, we found that both the Activists and the Allies were united by the fear of being ostracized from the left’s cultural community and clung to the community they were provided by publicly supporting Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter frequently uses shows of force – either by seeking them from university administrators or through aggressive demonstrations – to silence dissent, as well. Activists recounted to us that they found it appropriate to ask administrators to step in and stop perceived “hate speech,” although they considered themselves to be supporters of free speech. Finally, by portraying criticism of their cause as an attempt to stiﬂe their speech, they in effect demand freedom from criticism.
Somewhere through the flames, Saul Alinsky is smiling.
Here in sum are the report’s major findings:
• Black Lives Matter’s core message is built upon, depends upon, and has as its ultimate goal, the larger retelling of the American story as one of oppression and racism.
• The police, as representatives of the state, must be framed as exemplifying the Black Lives Matter framing by being themselves oppressive and racist.
• Black Lives Matter frames their cause as one against a systemic problem and necessarily utterly rejects the “one bad apple” counterargument
• BLM relies upon the elevation and equating of other underprivileged groups to a status “just as oppressed” as Black America in order to build a narrative of an America divided into the “Oppressed and the Privileged.” For this reason causes such as undocumented workers, LGBTQ, and women’s reproductive rights, are recruited and welcomed into the “Allies” category of supporters.
• Supporters of BLM, for the most part, have moved on from desiring to silence dissent through amending free-speech laws; instead, Black Lives Matter (1) pressures authorities to do it for them, (2) creates an atmosphere of intimidation through threats of violence and shows of force, and (3) incorporates a culture of self-censorship in which those with “privilege” have a lesser voice than the oppressed.
• While social-media and cameras are utilized uniquely and effectively to communicate with and recruit new supporters, it is the framework of organizing learned from past attempts and overarching magna-narrative that in reality gives Black Lives Matter its edge.
• There are three distinct segments of supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, each with their own emotional pathways to a deeply felt connection: Activists, Allies, and Operatives. These mental maps explain current reasons for support as well as provide strategic pathways for weakening that same support.
• Common across all segments is the emotion of fear of being ostracized from the left’s cultural community.
• The speciﬁcity of the cause – injustice toward the Black community – is both central to its appeal and also a window into an Achilles-heel weakness of the movement’s core positioning.
• The movement is at a critical juncture in its lifecycle, with maximum cultural inﬂuence but having failed to transition this inﬂuence into policy impact.
Could it be that transition has happened? It is way past the time for conservatives to seriously familiarize themselves with the mindset and strategies of BLM, the aspects of its organizers, and the appeal to its allies, and to strategize scenarios. The what-ifs are upon us. And it is way past time for people of all political persuasions — especially those who have spent the past four years in a lather over Donald Trump’s Twitter madness while BLM and its OWS and Antifa co-conspirators were hiding and plotting in plain sight — to acknowledge what is terribly afoot here, to not play into the rhetoric and tactics (cancel culture), to risk the opprobrium and slurs of an avowedly Leftist movement intent on the destruction of America as a nation of those principles established by our Constitution.
Again, read the report, found here. And accept the truth: BLM has as much if not more to do with Petrograd as it does with Selma.