Letter from Los Angeles
We were told it was a necessary reflex.
Exploited at once by corporate media then by multinationals, the riots sparked by George Floyd’s killing were endlessly substantiated with no dissent permitted and any critical analysis shut down. Black Lives Matter did not start in May, but it was here where its status ascended in ways that beggar belief; first through fear then by the greatest demonstration of faux outrage and virtue-signalling the world has ever witnessed. Millions were donated, statues were toppled, businesses were torched. Hollywood went berserk. Publishers even more so. Petrified British policemen kneeled in protests. “Racism,” the academics sneered in advertorials, “is a public health crisis”.
But even now, as this year ends with a blood red glow on the Pacific horizon, the subject isn’t ready for examination, with editors still spiking unflattering comment. It is as if we’re using one evil to hide another – the tragedy of our overreaction to Covid to disguise one of the most divisive, destructive and vindictive episodes in history.
There was one battle within BLM’s war on everything that summarised the futility of resistance. The case of Jake Hepple, a welder from Lancashire, UK, is a study in the consequences of dissent in a rigged game. In June, Mr. Hepple and associates ponied up $800 to sponsor a banner displaying the words “WHITE LIVES MATTER BURNLEY” that was to fly overhead a stadium during a football match. Post the spectacle, not only was Mr. Hepple sacked from his job – but his fiancé too (after the discovery of “problematic” social media remarks). Sports commentators, historians and charity bosses soon found themselves in the same position: what was once awareness had mutated into an unstoppable wave of humiliation and cancellation.
BLM was expertly provocative. In the early days of June, any comment, if not overwhelmingly flattering, or corresponding with the movement’s heavily rehearsed appearance, was racist. This neutered natural instincts to point out obvious flaws in its application. BLM flourished because of a synthetic silence enforced around it.
It seized upon one specific enemy: the white, cisgender, heterosexual, capitalist, Christian, English-speaking profile – irrespective of the fact that a great many white, cisgender, heterosexual, capitalist, Christian English-speaking males had donated generously to it and participated, if somewhat buffoonishly in its protests – exempt from social distancing prescripts. Tellingly, the Chinese were excluded from its hostility, as were Arabs, Latin American descendants of the Spanish Inquisition and of course, African countries. All the loathing BLM and its allies whipped up was specifically aimed at just one group, some of whose fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and presumption of innocence, were temporarily suspended to allow it to build up its head of steam.
Who were the “allies”? Dishonest corporate media, opportunistic multinationals led by slobs like Ben & Jerry’s CEO Michael McCarthy, repulsive celebrities, corrupt fact-checkers. To a minor but no less alarming degree was the UK Civil Service. Prompted, it is thought, by the former Permanent Secretary to the Department of Education, the insufferably woke (but thankfully sacked) Jonathan Slater, signatures on emails from officials started including the fist of BLM. Shortly after Slater’s dismissal, Britain’s National Trust fell to the same condition, and after that, the National Library.
Many mistakes were and are still made in trying to understand what has really happened. The non-discovery of a Marxist agenda at the heart of BLM in August was more a confession of ignorance: from its inception extremists were nearby – knowing how much it would terrify its enemy (see above) to see these kinds of claims published in a manifesto was clever stagecraft. Likewise, “all lives matter” was a non-response: at no point did BLM suggest white people must die. All it did was provide enough paranoia for white people to do it themselves or more to the point, each other.
The reason why BLM was so specific about its enemy had nothing to do with the legacy of slavery, injustice, prejudice, police brutality or even equal opportunity. None of the other, aforementioned groups would have tolerated such unrestrained vandalism (Emmanuel Macron was the only Western leader prepared to confront the hysteria. In what must be an embarrassing outcome for Britain’s Conservative party, the day the French President warned that no statue would fall and no history would be erased, the riots tempered).
No, BLM simply eyed a grift. Decades of posturing and self-loathing, of radical nonsense contaminating the university curriculum and most multinational human resource departments, of violence being excused – even encouraged [see: Britain’s former Foreign Secretary David Milliband’s speech at Stellenbosch University], emboldened it and allowed it to prey upon the madness of a West in decline who opened its vaults, then submitted before it.
Seen this way – and not through the temptation of reacting to threat – it should come as no surprise that BLM is buckling under the pressure of expectation. Co-founder Patrisse Cullors has concluded a deal with Disney reportedly to the value of $100m – against the moaning of local activists who complain they’ve been shafted, that they’re hungry. With two of its other co-founders nowhere near to be found, this movement is entering the “its our turn to eat” classic fracturing phase of its existence. It’s probably worth pointing out that as this occurs, polls recently conducted (and reluctantly published) in the United Kingdom suggest that a clear majority feels that BLM has worsened race relations. One reason why we are unwilling to talk about it is because of plain denial, that surveying the raw damage is just too painful.
There are, however, two faint cautions for hope.
At some point in the last three months, BLM registered as a political party. This justifies the booing that football players taking the knee before each match prompts: booing a country’s national anthem is disgraceful and disrespectful, but booing a political gesture is a fundamental right (do not expect pathological dissemblers such as the broadcaster Piers Morgan and the potato chip salesman Gary Lineker to understand this). From the movement to the wave and now the ballot box, BLM has earned the right to be criticised and praised, laughed at, agreed with and condemned: there is no more (crazy) special circumstance immunity.
And last week in London two judges ruled against a notoriously litigious transgender woman called Stephanie Hayden. Ms. Hayden, something of a fixture within the woke orthodoxy, was dismissed with a cliche akin to a bull and a red rag: human beings do not possess the right not to be offended.
It need not take a judge to declare that criticising someone does not make them racist (although I fear that is coming), just the willingness to call bullshit when it appears – and, like Macron, not be afraid. BLM is a scheme, a fast one and sadly, at the same time, an indictment of the appalling, hollowed out state of our Western civilisation.