The unfinished history of “Black Lives Matter” has been a protracted and grueling transition from decadent ignorance to deliberate ignorance. A decade ago, the white bourgeoisie of our nation may have been pitied, but perhaps not forgiven, for having not a clue of the government’s undeclared war upon black Americans; but to be so benighted in the summer of 2020 is persuasive proof of a hostility to enlightenment, on this issue and on a host of others, too. It is not the first day—nor the first year, nor even the first decade—you have heard someone chant, “Black lives matter,” so you will do well to spare us the tedious question, “All lives matter, don’t they?” Do you mean to say, in the most shameless sincerity, that “Black lives matter” is such a serpentine sentence, an abstruse and convoluted construction the likes of which the sage philosophers of old could scarcely fathom? And if it really is so mysterious that you cannot understand it, then why are you arguing with those who do?
We have wasted all too much time arguing semantics, an ambitious pursuit in an illiterate culture. It doesn’t end with this single statement, either: there is a multilayered and seemingly immovable skepticism of black Americans’ demands to live without fear of spontaneous judicial executions. The most succinct, but by no means the most lucid, counterargument is the statement “Blue lives matter”, trending on Twitter as of this writing. In the real world, too, the sentiment abounds: every pickup truck is decorated with an American flag defaced by a thin blue line, or the Punisher’s skull smeared by the same. Why someone would incorporate the logo of a fictional vigilante to promote their support for law enforcement is truly mysterious. Less complicated is the corresponding claim, “Blue lives matter”, and its concealed connotations.
We shall have no ambiguity on this point: “Blue lives matter” is a racist statement. I had considered very carefully whether to write “…when uttered in response to ‘Black lives matter’”, but when has it ever been uttered otherwise? Far from the case of the chicken and the egg, it was the black man who said: “Black lives matter.” And it was the white man who replied: “Blue lives matter.” Once we have agreed that “Blue lives matter” is a response, an attempt to contradict the argument raised by the black man, then we must ask ourselves: “What is this argument that the white man is looking to contradict?”
The white man implies that the policeman, the blue person, who killed the black person was right to do so because his life, the life of the policeman, mattered. Concordantly, the white man implies that there was some situation wherein either the life of the policeman or the life of the black person could be spared, but not both. In other words, the policeman’s life and the black person’s life must be mutually exclusive: there must be some kind of irreconcilable conflict between the two. Because we cannot preserve both lives under these undetermined circumstances, we must choose which life to save. The white man has already made the decision for us and protected the life of the policeman. Such is the essence of “Blue Lives Matter”.
You will notice that this lethal dichotomy is absent from the black man’s perspective. In declaring, “Black lives matter,” he does not imply that the black life poses a threat, mortal or otherwise, to the life of the policeman. On the contrary, he believes that both lives can be preserved, but that the black life is lost because the policeman, who neither respects nor values black life, believes he is justified in killing black people as one would thoughtlessly squash a mosquito. We are speaking of a racist devaluation of life, and it is a barbaric perspective that must be overcome, lest the streets continue to drip with the blood of murdered black Americans.
Personally, I see little reason to trudge further through this linguistic muck, explaining what ought to be transparent to the honest—who, I am sorry to say, comprise a negligible minority in the U.S. I will close with something of a non sequitur, observing that today marks the seventh anniversary of the theatrical release of the film Fruitvale Station, which is based on the murder of Oscar Grant. I saw that film in a cinema, back when the cinema was still in operation, and while I wasn’t sure if it was an especially good film, it is lamentable that its message did not resonate with a wider audience. I have now written more than seven hundred words on this issue; I would be happy if I needn’t write any others.