Three years ago the organization called Black Lives Matter was founded, and it rose to prominence in 2014 on the back of the Michael Brown incident and grew with later, highly publicised, deaths of black Americans at police hands. Their response has been explosive – with many protests characterised by vandalism and looting – and their questionable rhetoric – at times imploring viewers to treat the police like ‘pigs in blankets, fry them like bacon’ – has been a catalyst for numerous murders of policemen, most recently in Dallas and Baton Rouge, in light of which BLM felt no need to cancel their pre-arranged ‘days of rage’. Considering the fashionable belief that police shoot and kill unarmed blacks out of implicit racial bias, this anger and callousness seems understandable, but do the facts support that belief?
Succinctly, no. A new empirical study by Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer Jr concluded that, while police were more prone to stop, push and cuff black people than to do so to people of other ethnicities, they are actually no more or even slightly less likely to shoot at black people – a conclusion that surprised Fryer. To take another source, the Washington Post has spent a few years gathering data from groups including the DOJ and CDC to try to validate BLM, and this data has revealed that as of July 2016 123 black people, 238 white people, 79 Hispanics and 69 unknown or others have been shot by the Police. While more white people are killed, black Americans compose only 6% of Americans, so these numbers would seem to indicate bias, until you look at who commits violent crime in America: according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 43% of violent crime is committed by white Americans, 22% by black Americans, a proportion not dissimilar to that in the numbers killed by police.
There is an argument that these statistics over-represent black crime due to systemic bias in the Justice system leading to blacks being more likely to be charged and given longer sentences, also explaining their disproportionate presence in American prisons. This argument is baseless: a 1997 study by criminologists Sampson and Lauritsen, reviewing extensive literature on charging and sentencing found no evidence that systemic racism underlay incarceration rates, and study after study since have confirmed these conclusions. That is to say, the idea that there exists some institutional conspiracy among law enforcement to murder and imprison African Americans, propounded by virtue-signalling celebrities and pandering politicians, is nothing more than a fashionable myth.
Reality does not leave BLM entirely without a rationale, however. It is true that African Americans are disproportionately likely to be poor, to be unemployed, and to be high school drop-outs, with millions living lives without hope in hubs of poverty. 70% of black children will grow up lacking a parent – usually the father – which correlates with substantially decreased life chances. These factors and others largely underlie the higher crime rates among black Americans, the victims of which are usually other black Americans. All this represents a real issue, one that an influential grassroots movement like BLM could do much to resolve.
BLM could advocate economic reforms like the removal of barriers to entry for starting a business and the rationalisation of professional licensure to enable entrepreneurial African Americans to make the most of their talents and black communities to prosper. They could embrace welfare reforms to reduce dependency and increase employment. They could push for education reforms shown to greatly improve the prospects of black children, like the charter schools of Minnesota, Florida and Louisiana. They could seek to combat addition, gang culture and family breakdown by championing personal responsibility, integrity and decency in the style of civil rights heroes from Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to Booker T Washington and Frederick Douglass. They don’t.
Instead BLM harms the very people they are supposed to help in service of their foundational myth. Their ideological assault on the institutions underpinning the American system as part of a vast racist conspiracy savages the public trust and civic participation necessary for a functioning relationship between a democracy and its citizens. Their hateful rhetoric, ethnic essentialism and cultural segregationism poison race relations. The dozens of businesses burned and looted in assorted protests they’ve organized are overwhelmingly black-owned, meaning BLM has managed to ruin hundreds who had been making a living in some of the most deprived areas in America.
Far worse, evidence is emerging that the so-called ‘Ferguson Effect’, or police holding back for fear of being criticized for doing their job, is real. University of Missouri professor Rosenfeld, in a study commissioned by the DOJ, showed that the 56 largest cities in America have seen a 17% increase in murders over the course of 2015, and attributed this to the Ferguson Effect . The populations of these cities are disproportionately black, as are the victims of these murders.
It isn’t like they care about any of this. The true nature of the BLM leadership can be seen in their dismissal of the Wichita chapter of BLM, which organized a cookout with the intention of opening a dialogue and bridging divides in the community, for not being ‘in line with their principles’. Such an aversion to anything constructive is the route to hatred, resentment and race war, where black Americans – and Americans at large – need unity, good will and reconciliation. Black Lives Matter is a fraud, and should repulse anyone who truly believes that black lives matter.