1. Black Lives Matter…This is truly a date that will live in ethics infamy, or should: on July 13, 2013, the acquittal of George Zimmerman, accused of murdering Trayvon Martin in 2012, prompted Oakland, California resident Alicia Garza to post a message on Facebook containing the phrase “Black lives matter.” Garza said she felt “a deep sense of grief” after Zimmerman was acquitted (as he should have been and had to be based on the evidence.) She said she was further saddened that many people to blamed the victim, Martin, and not the “disease” of racism.
As has marked the soon to emerge Black Lives Matter movement, facts didn’t matter to Garza. Martin was the aggressor, and was the only one of the two parties involved who made race-related comments prior to the confrontation. Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense, and the prosecution’s own investigator testified to that fact. Never mind: Patrice Cullors, a Los Angeles community organizer and friend of Garza’s, read her post and replied with the first instance of #BlackLivesMatter, which quickly “went viral.” Garza, Cullors and fellow activist Opal Tometi built a network of community organizers and racial justice activists using the clever but misleading name Black Lives Matter, and the phrase and the hashtag were used by grassroots activists and protests all across the country, many of them based on false narratives implying racism where no evidence of it existed, as in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd and others. It is now a powerful and profitable, if intellectually dishonest and divisive, force in American culture and politics. The damage the movement has already done is incalculable; the damage it will do is frighteningly uncertain.
I note that in the description of the movement on the allegedly objective History.com is that it is “simple and clear in its demand for Black dignity.” That’s laughable (but then, historians) since the name is anything but clear, and deliberately so. It stands as a false accusation against American society and non-black citizens that black lives do not matter to the rest of the population except the woke, and thus has spurred the attack on the nation’s legitimacy by purveyors of Critical Race Theory and the “1619 Project.” The seemingly benign slogan deftly avoids contradiction and makes dissent perilous (“What, you don’t think black lives matter, you racist?“) while being used to justify Marxism, censorship, reparations, race-based hiring, promotions and benefits, and other discriminatory activities and policies.
2. In a related July 13 note, this was also the date, in 2015, when Sandra Bland was found hanged in her cell. Bland’s name is also among those used as a BLM rallying cry, and like so many of the others, that is based on a presumption of racism and other facts unproven. On July 10, 2015, Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia pulled over 28-year-old Bland, an African American, for failing to signal a lane change. She refused to cooperate; he was unprofessional. The officer arrested her and took her to a nearby jail. Several days later, she was found dead, and an autopsy concluded she had hanged herself with a plastic bag.
Of course, Bland’s family and friends suspected that the official report of her suicide was a cover-up, because police are racists. But Bland was a police confrontation waiting to happen. She considered herself a Black Lives Matter activist, writing in one social media post, “In the news that we’ve seen as of late, you could stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed.” That’s ironic, because if she had just accepted the minor traffic stop without fighting with the officer, she might be alive today. Bland had at least ten previous traffic-related encounters with police in Illinois and Texas; she had been charged five times for driving without insurance, four times for speeding, and once each for driving while intoxicated and drug possession. Her last conviction was for shoplifting, and she owed $7,579 in unpaid fines at the time of her death. Encina was fired, and Bland’s family received the obligatory wrongful death settlement, in this case almost $2 million.