While Donald Trump was dominating news cycles this past week with his crazy statements de jour, another bit of insanity made news for a millisecond before Trump could steal back the spotlight.
It was the promised list of demands from Black Lives Matter, the movement founded after the controversial fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a scuffle with Florida neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman.
The list revealed how out of the mainstream Black Lives Matter is, and, if we can all stop talking about Trump for a minute, it should serve as five-alarm fire bell for Americans of all backgrounds who’ve been fooled into thinking that BLM is just another civil rights group. It’s not; BLM is a hard-left political group looking to foment dissent, and it’s doing a good job of it.
The organization gained national attention soon after its founding because of its social media presence and aggressive protest tactics, particularly on college campuses, where the group reveled in shouting speakers down. It also touched a legitimate nerve in inner-city black communities, where police confrontations are a not-always-welcome fact of life.
Few on the political left were willing to criticize this emerging force, especially as additional tragic police shootings made the news, some warranted and some clearly not. On the contrary, BLM was feted in progressive circles, with its eponymous cry becoming an instant liberal axiom.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley felt the wrath of the movement when he egregiously suggested that “All lives matter.” He apologized for his apostasy after being screamed at during public events. No one was safe: Sen. Bernie Sanders, a socialist, had a microphone stripped from his hand for not paying sufficient homage to BLM. Hillary Clinton was the object of protests, too.
Still, the group’s extremism has gone largely unchallenged in liberal circles. In 2015, President Barack Obama heralded BLM at the White House, calling its leaders “much better organizers than I was when I was their age,” and saying he was “confident they are going to take America to new heights.” In fairness, Obama tempered his remarks about BLM after the killings of five police officers in Dallas.
Now come the group’s demands, and they are a must-read.
Here’s a snippet of what BLM is calling for: Free lifetime education for all African-Americans (and immigrants here illegally); forgiveness of student loan debt; a guaranteed lifetime minimum income for African-Americans; corporate and government reparations for “environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism”; reparations for “the devastating impact of the ‘war on drugs’ and criminalization of prostitution”; “divestment from exploitative forces including prisons, fossil fuels, police, surveillance and exploitative corporations”; and at least two dozen other things that read like a bad 1960s screenplay.
These demands are unserious on their face, but the narrative that BLM is spreading among young African-Americans, especially, can’t be taken lightly. Besides the litany of quasi-Marxist language throughout the BLM document, there is a visceral disdain of America’s pluralistic society being promulgated — and a near-pathological picture of black victimhood being painted.
The Republican Party is being rightly criticized for putting forward a unsuitable presidential nominee who has flirted dangerously with nativism. It will have to look itself in the mirror after the race. But if America is going to moderate and mend itself when this crazy election is over, leaders on the political left will have work to do, too. They should start by repudiating the latest and growing anti-American radical movement calling itself Black Lives Matter.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant for Republicans.