Bach: A Bloody Reputation

by Jinsung Bach | 7/14/16 6:00pm

Following the vicious killings in Dallas, an entire nation has been left reeling in its tracks. In the midst of such horrid violence, it is impossible to look upon the situation without also addressing the Black Lives Matter movement.

The gunman who perpetrated the murders stated that he wanted to “kill police officers, especially white officers.” He was fascinated with racial extremist groups and had evidently prepared himself with weapons and explosives for such an attack. In the aftermath of the shooting, instead of calling for peace and solidarity, Black Lives Matter’s supporters have instead doubled down on their divisive rhetoric.

With the blood scarcely dried on the pavement, Black Lives Matter has chosen to conduct even more protests in several American cities.

“No good cops in a racist system,” they bellowed in Philadelphia. “No more protests, just revolution.”

The murders in Dallas, clearly, were nothing but enemy casualties in this revolution of theirs. And in this revolution, Black Lives Matter’s countless supporters on social media have done everything to find some sort of just cause in the shooting, even going so far as to lionize the gunman as a martyr. That so many people are trying to find any reason to justify the violence at all is disturbing, but more importantly, it is indicative of an underlying failure of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter has consistently failed to disavow the extremist fanatics that define its reputation, and has done comparatively little to improve that reputation in the public eye. Given its members’ reactions to the Dallas shootings, Black Lives Matter has lost all legitimacy as a civil rights group.

Black Lives Matter has tried to distance itself from the violence by calling the events in Dallas the work of a lone gunman. By drawing attention away from its own radical fringes, Black Lives Matter hopes to clean its hands of the matter and absolve itself of any responsibility. Why, then, do its supporters so visibly continue to praise such violence and defend its perpetrators as warriors? In that regard, what Black Lives Matter says is true: The actions of one individual do not speak for the group. It is instead the actions of many, who continually find excuses to justify the violence in Dallas, that define it.

On the surface Black Lives Matter preaches peace and good intentions, but its actions speak louder than any words can. A movement that chants for police officers to fry like bacon cannot be peaceful, and a group whose members call for more shootings of law enforcement on social media cannot have good intentions. Given such raw hatred, does it really come as a surprise that someone would be inspired to pick up a rifle and heed the murderous call of countless cheering supporters? And given Black Lives Matter’s current momentum, is it so much of a stretch to believe that the violence couldn’t happen again? Black Lives Matter has a bloody reputation, and it is a reputation well-deserved.

As so many people continue to embrace this dangerous reputation, we must face the dismaying truth that there is something fundamentally rotten with Black Lives Matter as a collective consciousness. Black Lives Matter has devolved into a movement of hatred, violence and unfounded grievance. Even in the face of horrific violence, supporters continue to perpetuate this agenda by claiming that there must be a good reason for the murders, that there must be some justification for why its members choose to kill. Black Lives Matter allows this even knowing that there is never a good reason to commit murder because to do otherwise would be to undermine its own narrative. If Black Lives Matter cannot condemn violence without compromising a peaceful message, then it has no peaceful message to begin with.

Wrong is wrong, and murder is murder. Black Lives Matter should have unequivocally clarified that fact to all its members. Simple words on one webpage does not clarification make; its supporters have instead fallen back into business as usual, demonizing their targets while applauding extremist rhetoric. Having chosen to look the other way when its own members celebrate violence, Black Lives Matter has lost any right to call itself a movement of peace.

What saddens me most is the fact that Black Lives Matter had such potential to be a force for good. It was born from heartfelt concerns over police brutality and has mobilized many people under a common message. Its more peaceful beginnings have nonetheless been overshadowed by the radicalism that has since hijacked its ranks, and its reputation is forever stained with the blood of honest police officers. Whatever Black Lives Matter once was, it has been irreparably damaged by the events in Dallas, and rightly so. Movements that nurture messages of hatred and violence, no matter the intention, must never be rewarded with success.

Perhaps, in spite of everything it has going against it, Black Lives Matter can be saved. Perhaps it can in time evolve into something better, free of violence and division, that still retains the spirit of our predecessors who fought to make us a freer people. As a Dartmouth student, as an American and as a human being, I hope with every fiber of my being that it can. But as it stands today, should Black Lives Matter continue to essentially ignore the violence-inducing rhetoric with which it has become synonymous, the rot at its core will slowly eat away at the rest until there is nothing left.