Rich Lowry, Syndicated columnist.
The Democratic party is finally realizing its vulnerability on culture issues, and perhaps no group better exemplifies the problem than Black Lives Matter.
The group’s eponymous slogan swept all before it in recent years.
It was repeated by Democrats around the country. Corporate leaders paid obeisance to it.
Sports leagues displayed it. Such was its totemic power that a more inclusive version of the three words — all lives matter — was considered a dangerous heresy.
The BLM agenda on criminal justice — based on the idea fewer criminals should be arrested and held in jail — took hold in blue jurisdictions, and the slogan “defund the police” got traction despite its utter impracticality and obvious political destructiveness.
Now, it’s obvious how shortsighted and foolhardy all this was. The rise in violent crime is a clear and present danger to the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and progressive prosecutors allied with BLM who have pursued soft on crimes policies in the midst of a crime wave are under fire, facing either recalls or heavy criticism.
BLM the group is continuing to find ways to underline its own extremism as it withers under scrutiny for its dodgy finances.
If a right-wing purveyor of internet misinformation wanted to discredit BLM and its allies, he couldn’t do much better than concoct a story where a disturbed activist attempts to shoot and kill a local politician and immediately gets bailed out by his BLM brethren spouting cliched attacks on the criminal justice system.
It’s what happened in Louisville, Kentucky, though. After 21-year-old Quintez Brown allegedly shot at — and missed — mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg, the BLM chapter in Louisville quickly posted his $100,000 bail. From attempted murder to walking free a couple of days later is quite the turnaround.
The BLM organizer in Louisville, Chanelle Helm, explained it was necessary to bail out Brown because: “They are calling for this individual, this young man who needs support and help, to be punished to the full extent. It is a resounding message that people are down for the torture that has taken place in our jails and prisons.”
Everyone agrees that Brown has mental health problems and needs treatment, but given the violent act he’s accused of, common sense dictates that he receives it while confined.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, BLM’s radicalism was very good business. The group’s co-founder, Patrisse Cullors, said the other day that the money raised itself, as practically every entity in America that wanted to bolster its “social justice” credentials tried to buy its way into BLM’s good graces. “People have to know we didn’t go out and solicit the money,” Cullors explained. “This is money that came from white guilt, white corporation guilt, and they just poured money in.”
If that sounds a tad defensive, it’s because BLM raised $90 million in 2020 and it’s unclear who has stewardship of the funds or how they’re being spent. BLM has gone from a sainted group to one that’s on the run. California and Washington have ordered BLM to stop fundraising in those states and, in a telling symbolic blow, impeccably woke Amazon has kicked BLM off its charity platform, AmazonSmile.
Cullors has the explanation that you’d except for the new focus on BLM’s lack of financial controls — “anti-Black racism.”
Yes, good accounting is racist, now.
Democrats wonder how they can blunt GOP attacks on culture issues and believe that if they explain their positions better, they’ll be fine. But the party is positioned so far left that it needs bold gestures. If it wanted to send an unmistakable signal of change, it would denounce the leadership of BLM, call for investigations into its finances, declare that the group’s priorities aren’t those of the Democratic Party, and wear the ensuing furor from the left as a badge of honor.
But Democrats won’t do that and can’t do that — which is why they are in such trouble..
Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.