I shared in it. A lot of people, particularly people who are in the #blacklivesmatter were outraged about the outrage. I’d like to discuss their outrage over the outrage, as well as everyone else’s outrage over the actual killing of Cecil.
I’m going to start with the latter, but I first want to give everyone an update; Cecil’s brother Jericho has just been killed by poachers. Jericho had been protecting Cecil’s cubs and territory since Cecil was killed, so the cubs are now in danger. UPDATE: Or not. I am now hearing conflicting reports, but I digress.
The outrage over Cecil wasn’t just about the barbarism of killing a beautiful creature, just to feel like a man for a minute. How someone can feel like a man when they sneak up on a docile (it’s true, they’re docile when they don’t see a threat coming) creature and use a mechanical instrument that someone else made for them to kill it is beyond me, but then again I’ve never had a penis to feel insecure about. I think the underlying outrage is the outrage that has been brewing over the 1% for years now. The idea that some dickless millionaire can spend the annual median household income on a “guaranteed kill” trip to Africa to kill something is just beyond the pale. That’s right, this asshole spent a whole years worth of the average American household’s (not person, but household) income to go to Africa and kill an animal for kicks. That’s why people despise this idiot so much. And then when the outrage began, he read from the millionaire fucker’s playbook and plead ignorance. He had no idea what he was doing because he was a hapless victim of the people he paid a years worth of the average household income to. He’s not an asshole. Like most rich fuckers, he’s just incompetent. Anytime there’s embezzlement, illegal trading, fraud, or any other crime being committed at a company, they CEO who insists they need to be paid the big bucks for their brilliance, suddenly pleads idiocy. Remember Angelo Mozilo from Countrywide? Here’s his sister explaining how her brother wasn’t a crook, but rather a hapless idiot.
I digress. The Cecil outrage is the 99% outrage. It’s about income inequality and the rich flaunting their wealth in the most classless and obnoxious way. Rich people spend their money on the dumbest and most pointless things on the planet. Poor and middle class people spend their money on food and on their kids. We’re tired of the Lifestyles Of The Rich Fuckers show. That’s what the Cecil outrage is about.
Now to #blacklivesmatter. I saw (and shared) this meme a couple of days ago;
The usual #alllivesmatter riddled the comment section of the post. Let me just clear this up once and for all because a lot of well meaning people who probably aren’t at all racist keep saying this. Let me tell you why you’re so wrong in perpetuating this. It’s a tool for diminishing and deflecting from the problem by shutting down a conversation that we should all be having every day. The fact of the matter is that black lives clearly don’t have as much value in America as white lives do. I’ve written copiously about all of the statistics demonstrating the disparity in treatment between blacks and whites by both the law enforcement and the criminal justice communities. I’m not going to go over all of that again. Just peruse the “racism” section of this blog although, you should be aware of it independently of my work if you really cared to educate yourself on what’s going on in America.
Larry Wilmore did a segment on his show that addressed the #alllivesmatter problem;
(Wilmore) “So it seems like there’s a little confusion here over this phrase. Why can’t you say ‘all lives matter? “I mean, it sounds like it makes sense.”
(Enter Felonious Munk to answer the question) “In the parlance of the hour, if I break my legs, I do not want the doctor telling me ‘all legs should be healed, I want the doctor to fix my leg.”
(Wilmore) “OK, so you’re saying ‘Black lives matter’ is a specific cry for something, whereas ‘all lives matter’ is a just a way of shutting down that cry.”
That’s exactly right. Don’t do that. Just don’t. There is a crisis that’s been building and building in black communities all across the country for decades. Don’t diminish that by implying equality. If we had equality, we wouldn’t need a #blacklivesmatter movement.
Conflating the 1% problem with the #blacklivesmatter problem is one that I’d been guilty of for years. Not so much conflating, as combining. In my defense, I wasn’t watching daily videos of unarmed black men being beaten and killed by cop all across the country. I had a sound, but very flawed basis for conflating the two issues; OJ Simpson. What a lot of people missed about the OJ Simpson acquittal, is that there was a very important cultural message there; if you have enough money, you can buy the anything you want in America and your skin color becomes irrelevant. OJ told me that the divide really is fundamentally between rich and poor, and that black and white doesn’t matter at a certain point.
I knew that there were thousands of roadblocks set up to prevent black people from getting to the bank balance that creates equality, but I underestimated it. And I didn’t realize how many of those roadblocks were actually bullets.
My fundamental misunderstanding of the crisis is one that most liberals are suffering from. We have a detached view of the situation, and see what the problem will be, once the crisis that we severely underestimate is finally solved. This is a crisis we’re witnessing. If the cause of these high numbers of murders was some sort of disease or epidemic, we would treat it as a national crisis. It is a mistake to see this in any other way than a crisis. It is a mistake to combine this crisis with the income inequality situation.
It’s also a mistake for the #blacklivesmatter movement to talk at liberals who don’t understand the situation. I’ve seen a lot of this from black twitter. Admittedly, 140 characters doesn’t really set the stage for productive and informative conversation. But there’s a lot of anger and lashing out happening there. There’s a lot of talk about how liberals “need to learn” and how “we’re going to teach them”. I agree with both statements. I just don’t think that people are as receptive to listening to you if you come at them, rather than to speak with them. That’s just me. I don’t viscerally react well to being yelled at 140 characters at a time.
I’m concerned about this divide I see opening up. I think it’s dangerous, and ultimately going to cause damage. Robert Reich actually articulated my concerns eloquently on his blog. You should read his whole piece, but I’m going to share the last few paragraphs;
Black lives matter.
But it would be a terrible mistake for the progressive movement to split into a “Black lives matter” movement and an “economic justice” movement.
This would only play into the hands of the right.
For decades Republicans have exploited the economic frustrations of the white working and middle class to drive a wedge between races, channeling those frustrations into bigotry and resentment.
The Republican strategy has been to divide-and-conquer. They want to prevent the majority of Americans – poor, working class, and middle-class, blacks, Latinos, and whites – from uniting in common cause against the moneyed interests.
We must not let them.
Our only hope for genuine change is if poor, working class, middle class, black, Latino, and white come together in a powerful movement to take back our economy and democracy from the moneyed interests that now control both.
We have to stay united. That’s not going to happen until white liberals really start listening to what the black community is telling us. It’s a little disheartening to hear democratic presidential candidates say that “all lives matter”. They’re fucking running for president. They should have a better understanding of this issue than that. I was very disappointed by both Bernie Sander’s and Martin O’Malley’s handling of the #blacklivesmatter protest at Netroots Nation. Fortunately, that clumsy handling of the situation inspired Hillary to give a very eloquent speech (maybe the best I’ve ever seen her give) on the topic;
I don’t know if she just saw an opportunity, or wanted to address something that’s on her mind. I don’t care. She’s talking about it. Bernie is finally talking about it.
We all need to talk about racism early and often. We don’t need to shut the conversation down with #alllivesmatter. We also don’t need to be talking at each other.
We all just need to try harder. Even if you think you’re tying hard, try harder. I am.