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A Perspective on the BLM manifesto

August 3, 2016

Perhaps seeking a break from the never-ending campaign coverage, several news organizations took notice of the newest in a long line of black power ultimatums.

While similar in tone to the many that have preceded it, i.e. no police, no whites, no peace and ransom demands presented as reparation payments, this newest policy statement is backed by a far more sophisticated operational control structure.

The Black Power movement of 2016, under the umbrella of the so-called Black Lives Matter brand is different from that of the 1960’s and ’70s, not in its level of commitment to violence, but in the fact that unlike the original civil rights movement, BLM simply picks up where Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale and the other figureheads of the mid-twentieth century Black Power movement left off.

Perhaps that is because this new black separatist movement never had, and indeed has never honored, Dr. Martin Luther King’s commitment to nonviolent protest.

Also unlike the 1960’s black separatist  movement, this group has spent the last two-and-a-half years working with liberals to disarm and discredit not just bad cops, but all forms of authority and indeed the public in general.

It is perhaps understandable that those unfamiliar with the level of violence of the 1960’s and 1970’s might naively see this rerun as legitimate protest, since it is obvious from the homicide rate alone that all is not well with black Americans, particularly in the inner cities.

Considering the billions upon billions of dollars spent on the civil rights movement over the past 50 years, the call for reparations might simply seem silly to the uninformed.

Perhaps that is the reason for the dismissive attitude of people old enough to have experienced actual race warfare in the moment, an attitude typified by public figures such as Geraldo Rivera, who dismissed BLM as a flash in  the pan, essentially no more than the headline du jour, when commenting on the Bill O’Reilly program on Tuesday.

For others less confident in the benign character of this new movement, it was hard not to compare Mr. Rivera’s attitude with President Obama’s characterization of ISIS as a JV team.

This is a far better organized group, with decades of experience in developing tactics.

Whereas it took over a decade from that day in 1955 when Rosa Parks stood up with great dignity to claim her rightful seat on a bus in Montgomery Alabama to the time when the entire civil rights movement exploded into violence in 1968, BLM immediately began calling for and praising the assassination of police officers.

Perhaps using ISIS as a cover, or perhaps aligning with it in a throwback to Malcolm X’s original Nation of Islam,  BLM has no problem marching on the streets of America advocating for armed warfare with the police.

It does appears that this new group has learned something else from the past, i.e. that they are better off not fighting each other.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s a number of radical black militant groups sprang up, but they were never very cohesive  and often morphed from one to another as power struggles within the ranks caused dissenting members to break away and form their own groups.

There are certainly echoes of the past within the persona of Black Lives Matter. The picture of the woman calling for whites to go to the back of the march evoked memories of Stokely Carmichael when he took control of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1966 and turned it hard left when he purged the organization of its white members.  It was Carmichael who coined the phrase Black Power, even writing a book of the same name.

Eventually most of the less militant civil rights advocates, black and white alike, and particularly those who admired Dr. King, simply dropped out of the civil rights movement, rather than be identified as anarchists.

Others renounced only the militant movement, preferring instead to try to prepare succeeding generations of black children to take advantage of the opportunities, however imperfect, that  their elders had won for them.

These are people that while acknowledging that there is yet much to be improved, understood that further progress now requires the black community to take working role in improving its own condition. You hear echoes of that from the likes of Allen West, Dr. Ben Carson, Herman Cain and other 21st century black leaders.

Others simply retained the militant philosophy and worked to keep it alive barely under the surface while refining it and hoping that circumstances would allow them to fan the embers once again into a roaring blaze.

It seems that those people have decided this is the time, but why now?

For one thing the remaining living Black Power disciples and their allies are getting old. They recognize that if they don’t reignite the fire now, it could go out forever.

In a way, you could say that BLM and its “dozens” of affiliated groups represent their legacy.

For another, it is a lot easier to pull a protest together now than in 1966. Where getting 500 people together in the ’60’s could take 500 phone calls, now we have the magic of technology.

Once gathered it is inevitable that there will be some people easily swayed to violence, and the protest itself becomes a recruiting tool.

Just as it is wrong to fail to acknowledge the still existing civil rights inequities, it is wrong to excuse the re-emergence of a movement that itself largely contributed to the abrupt cessation of real progress in solving those issues.

It is not inevitable that America must burn again, but we ignore the potential for that outcome at our own peril.

From → op-ed

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