The Real Problem with Saying 'All Lives Matter'

Back in 2015, several dozen demonstrators interrupted Democrat presidential candidate Martin O'Malley (D-Md.) while he spoke at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix.  They shouted, "Black lives matter!"  The former Maryland governor responded, "Black lives matter.  White lives matter.  All lives matter."  The demonstrators, who were mostly black, responded by booing him and shouting him down. 

In a New York Times article written at the time, Judith Butler tried to explain away the demonstration by saying, "When some people rejoin with 'All Lives Matter' they misunderstand the problem, but not because their message is untrue.  It is true that all lives matter, but it is equally true that not all lives are understood to matter, which is precisely why it is most important to name the lives that have not mattered, and are struggling to matter in the way they deserve.  If we jump too quickly to the universal formulation, 'all lives matter,' then we miss the fact that black people have not yet been included in the idea of 'all lives.'" 

In a July 11, 2016 article entitled "Why you should stop saying 'all lives matter,' explained in 9 different ways," German Lopez says, "But the point of Black Lives Matter isn't to suggest that black lives should be or are more important than all other lives.  Instead, it's simply pointing out that black people's lives are relatively undervalued in the US — and more likely to be ended by police [emphasis his] — and the country needs to recognize that inequity to bring an end to it."  Vox offered no explanation for Lopez's use of "undervalued," assuming, perhaps, that there could be no misunderstanding.

The following was posted at CNN and said by Paxton K. Baker (an 'expert" who subsequently made a fool of himself), chairman of the Founding Partners Group, Washington Nationals Baseball Club: "[T]here have been instances of people trying to delegitimize the movement, by answering the call — to care about the lives of a race of people who have been systemically disenfranchised for centuries — with 'All Lives Matter.'  If you've thought or said this out loud during this time, you are missing the bigger picture. ... [T]he primary difference is awareness due to the use of smartphones and social media."  Baker actually said that — he cited a primary source of misunderstanding!  He's what passes for an expert at CNN.  Then CNN tried to distance itself from Baker by saying, "The views expressed in this commentary are his own."  That may be true, but CNN published him.

Here's another posting, this one by lifestyle blogger (whatever that is) Ayana Lage, who said, "[W]hether the phrase [All Lives Matter] is posted with ill intentions or good ones, the effect is the same.  It derails the conversation.  It's the same as when people bring up 'black-on-black crime' when you are discussing police brutality, or say 'well, why don't you care about Chicago?'  Literally anytime that I mention anything about Black Lives Matter or police reform, I get comments about 'well, what about the looters.'  And I'm kind of like, well that's not what we're talking about. ... I mean, you just hear the same things from people and you just start to think, 'Man, maybe some people are committed to misunderstanding what we're trying to do here.'  This is nothing more than an attempt to avoid the real reason for not saying "All Lives Matter."

Even Hillary Clinton is not immune.  During a speech on June 24, 2015, at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri (NPR had to remind us that it's less than 5 miles from where the rioting and protesting happened in Ferguson), speaking about her mother, Clinton said, "I asked her, 'What kept you going?'  Her answer was very simple.  Kindness along the way from someone who believed she mattered.  All lives matter."  That remark was not well received.  Renita Lamkin, a pastor at the St. John AME Church in St. Charles, Missouri, said, "With her statement that all lives matter, that blew a lot of support that she may have been able to engender here."

OK, saying "All Lives Matter" is problematic for BLM and its acolytes.  They say problems arise from using the phrase because it misses the point and causes misunderstandings.  But they never address the real reason why it's a problem.  That's what I want to address.

Have you ever heard of Douglas Murray?  He is an Englishman who wrote The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, a book I highly recommend.  His "All Lives Matter" insight is in this video.  "Sky News host Rowan Dean says author Douglas Murray is right when he says Black Lives Matter activists are twisting words in order to conflate criticism of the movement to endorsing racism."

Douglas says, at the 2:07 mark, "The way Black Lives Matter got started, some people reasonably said yeah, well, all lives matter.  And they were told from that time on, no, no, no, that eradicates the importance of the phrase 'Black Lives Matter.'  And the last six years [have seen] that idea that saying 'All Lives Matter' negates the importance of saying 'Black Lives Matter' but actually opposes the idea that black lives matter."

He continues, at the 2:40 mark (and in my opinion nails the issue), "Find me the people who say 'Black Lives Don't Matter.'  This is a clever trick [emphasis mine] we need to be aware of.  They say 'Black Lives Matter' and anything, anything [said] not just opposes it, but criticizes not just that, but any statement from Black Lives Matter.  You must be saying that 'Black Lives Don't Matter.'  These are horrible, nasty games that these activists are playing."

Wow!  That exposes why the BLM crowd won't say "All Lives Matter."  Rowan Dean makes some good points as well.

Jason Reynolds (whoever he is, but he's black, so he must be an authority on the matter, at least to CBS News) says black lives don't matter.  He rants, "[B]ecause I live the life that I live, I am certain that in this country, all lives [don't] matter.  I know for a fact that, based on the numbers, my life hasn't mattered; that black women's lives definitely haven't mattered, that black trans people's lives haven't mattered, that black gay people's lives haven't mattered... that immigrants' lives don't matter, that Muslims' lives don't matter.  The Indigenous people of this country's lives have never mattered.  I mean, we could go on and on and on."

Then he makes his payoff statement: "So, when we say 'all lives,' are we talking about White lives?  And if so, then let's just say that.  Cause it's coded language."

CBS follows up with this: "Some members of the Black community emphasized to CBS News that the phrase 'Black Lives Matter' does not mean 'Black lives matter more.  It means, 'Black lives matter, as well.'  And some of the hurtful confusion could very well stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of that."

So, yeah, Douglas, I found a person who says  'Black Lives Don't Matter.'  But he reinforces your point by trying to lay the "misunderstanding" on confusion, to change what the phrase "Black Lives Matter" means and actually says.

And don't overlook the MSM's role in this issue.  It enables those who say we miss the point when we say "All Lives Matter."

Image: Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr (cropped).

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