No, Your Black Life Does NOT Matter
Over the past two decades there have been a lot of attempts to suppress the truth about the American institution of slavery. Now there are ever more furious attempts to suppress the idea that black lives matter.
And for me this isn’t about race, or sex, or a movement, or politics or an economic system, it is about basic human decency. It’s about, not becoming a Nazi. There should be no attempts, absolutely none, to make it acceptable to murder, kill, maim, torture and generally do absolutely despicable things to other human beings.
This is the line. I have to…I must draw this line, in whatever space I am in, even virtual ones.
Yesterday, I was trolled by a Fox News Propagandist, her on Medium. I was trolled for pointing out that some (not all) white people find the concept of black lives matter, threatening.
All summer people have been taking to the streets shouting black lives matter. This has kicked off an even larger (corporate sponsored no less) anti-racist movement. You wouldn’t think this would be so controversial to say, anymore. But it is. There are corporations…and there are corporations. Black lives mattering is not a product Fox News has any interest in selling. Anti-racism? The entire concept is an outrage and a threat to the business model. Fox abhors BLM. It is teaching its viewers to combat anti-racism as if their lives depend on it.
Racism is Fox News’s Bread and Butter
Of course, anti-racism would have to be an anathema to those of the Fox News ilk. Fox trades heavily in blatant racism. It is their Google, Amazon and Apple stock. Racism is Fox’s I-phone. Racial hatred is by far, a Fox News best seller. Ibram X. Kendi, said something along the lines of, racial progress is always followed by more sophisticated racists progress. While racist progress has ever been an American propagandist art form, Fox News has perfected it.
Along comes this pesky black lives matter movement. What to do? Fox had to recenter the conversation properly back on good old racism and white supremacy. What would they sell to their frustrated angry white base, if not hatred of any given minority on any given day?
It took about two weeks (if that), into the BLM summer protests, for Fox News to develop and roll out sly and slick anti-racist propaganda to be used offensively against anyone who even implied that anti-racism could be a concept or that black lives do matter. The latest victim of this new propaganda? Me.
It all started when I commented on a Jack Luna article, The Only Possible Way to Understand Trump Voters. He explained that Trump voters enjoy being openly racist, but don’t see themselves that way. The left, he said, needed to reach out to them, understand them, and address that. He also said, implied that white people were being a bit ridiculous because they were casting themselves as victims of anti-racism. He said, unlike minorities in America, “white people aren’t being threatened.” I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist.
I commented that this wasn’t entirely true. I wondered if Jack had ever watched Fox news? Because, if he had, he’d understand, as I do, that the idea of black lives mattering, is extremely threatening to many white people. It signifies a loss of privilege, and that privilege is the ability to freely oppress people of color.
Fox News sells racism as a drug. One that bathes the brain in fear and loathing, which gets projected and expressed as fear and hatred of anything identified as “other.” Trump has traded on this racism as a product, (all the Mexicans are rapists) just like Fox (which probably replayed that Trump soundbite ad nauseum.) For Trump, this is just business and politics as usual. It is what he can sell effectively as a part of his MAGA brand. Making racism a component of the MAGA brand, was risky, but as any political strategist will admit, this risk has paid off extraordinarily well for Trump. In many ways the MAGA/Fox team up has been a perfect partnership. Why this cultivated racism has become so lucrative, in this time in history is an entirely other post.
It is what it is, but it is scary. This is full-on Nazi Germany territory that we are in right now. It has proliferated a more extreme sort of racism, (and other isms) multiplying on copycat platforms and brands, all cashing in on racism as a commodity.
Brietbart (last time I checked) was an unapologetic 24-hour virtual Klan rally. Then too, there are all these spin off personalities like Candance Owens and Charlie Kirk. (If curious you can check out Charlies’s hysterical Nazi- Germany styled bizarre twitter rant in Shannon Ashley’s Who’s Afraid of a Big Bad Trump?) There are big bucks to be made trading in racism, regardless of race. Candace Owens is black. Depending on her audience, she can come across as very racist. On Fox news, she’s going to provide justifications on the murder of George Floyd. Meanwhile, in conversing with all black audiences, she launches into full on, (actually honest) dialogue around how Democrats are playing blacks, and we’d all best learn to play the game as she has. The game is, racism sells; maybe just as well as sex. Candace is cashing her checks, any questions?
Let’s look at the multimillionaires of racism. During, Fox News modern-day, high-tech Klan rally, Grand Wizards Hannity and Carlson absolutely delight in saying the most racist things. Hannity and Carlson must metaphorically lynch a “thug” (dog whistling code for you know exactly which racist slur) or two once or twice a week, to sustain their astronomical ratings. Hannity and Carlson have tag-teamed an entire propaganda construct around this white supremacist truism:
The only way white lives can matter is if black lives do not.
I call this a truism, because in order for white supremacy to actually work this must be true. This is not shocking. This is not a groundbreaking revelation either. This is just the way the construct that is white supremacy, was designed. This is how it functions.
This is just the truth, and yet not long after saying it, here come the trolls, targeting me with some pretty sly propaganda.
What is Propaganda?
First off, let’s get a basic definition of propaganda established.There are several definitions of it. I snatched the one below from Wikipedia. Wikipedia does a pretty good job of distilling that complicated concept around the use of language to persuade people, unethically, into a single definition.
Propaganda is communication that is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, which may not be objective and may be presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. Propaganda is often associated with material prepared by governments, as well as activist groups, companies, religious organizations, the media, and individuals.
What’s important to note about propaganda, is that it does not play fair. It is not interested in logic, or reason, or effective communication. Think of it as a sort of communication date rape. Propaganda seeks to influence and insert unwanted thoughts into the mind, by usage of a number of underhanded tactics that rely on the manipulation of dense and difficult emotions like frustration and confusion and as always, fear. Let’s get to the tactics.
Propaganda tactic number 1: name-calling. First I was called a racist, for making the above points about white supremacy. Now, ask yourself this: what does me being a racist, have to do with the vast intellectual construct that is white supremacy or the concept of black lives mattering? Nothing. The name-calling serves as a destabilizing distraction/deflection from whatever one might be trying to effectively discuss, in my case this was the inner-workings of white supremacy.
With the political propaganda circulating social medial these days, propaganda utilizes a lot of name-calling, but, hypocritically enough, this name calling is often a name that applies to the name-caller. Picture someone stealing cases of beer out of a looted and security compromised store during a peaceful BLM protest, while loudly shouting at protestors: Looters! Rioters! Thieves! Stop stealing beer!
Oh, that’s a thing. This is the very dangerous propaganda tactic number 2: distraction/deflection via accusations and lying. It is dangerous, because in the midst of chaos and confusion, lies and accusations have a good chance of being believed. They have been believed. And it’s easy and perfectly understandable as to why these lies have been believed. There is typically a bit a truth in all the lies told in service propaganda. This is how propaganda works. It is slippery and slick. While the peaceful protestors may have not stolen any beer, moments before, it is entirely possible that there were looters and rioters (also black) who actually were on the scene stealing beer, as well as a Fox News propagandist, who also wanted to get in on said beer stealing, without having to be held accountable for the theft. Thus, a perfect double opportunity has been presented — steal some beer, and effectively promulgate propaganda, that will no doubt be believed by biased audiences.
There is a strain of propaganda circulating now, that is entirely devoted to the demonization and disqualification of the Black Lives Matter movement, which I do not consider myself a part of in any formal manner. Nevertheless, whenever I see propaganda targeted at the movement, I will challenge the propaganda. Primarily, because I do not like propaganda. It was one of the most effective and heinous tools of Nazi Germany; and it is often used as a tool of dehumanization. Because I support the idea of black lives mattering, I am often targeted by propagandist who find the idea of black lives mattering threatening. And it’s irrelevant to them, whether I have any formal association with the movement. They are going to assume that I do, and go on the attack. Logic and facts are entirely irrelevant- they are in fact a threat- to the dissemination of propaganda.
Let me say this again, so you can understand my philosophical position. I am not a part of any formal black lives matter movement. I am not in any BLM groups. I don’t have a particular political/ economic orientation associated with it, (like for example identifying as a Marxist). I do not organize any protests; and I don’t even know a whole hell of a lot about the movement.
Nevertheless, I am fully supportive of the concept, that Black Lives Do Matter. Aside from a movement, this is a concept. It is a very basic, very primitive , human rights concept. It is immoral to believe that you can extinguish someone’s life simply because they are black, without consequence. BLACK LIVES DO MATTER.
I will stand up for that concept, all day every day. I will not necessarily speak to or attempt to defend every and all aspect of the BLM movement, because I don’t know enough about the movement. However, when you target me with slick and sly propaganda about me voicing the concept, that black lives do matter (or speaking to the resistance to the concept) I will fight back. Mostly, I fight fair. Sometimes I don’t.
An Unfair Fight
And so, when I was targeted for the comments I made on Jack’s article, I was ready for a fight. Really a just an argument. I am a lawyer, and there are a lot of rhetorical rules and structures that go along with making an argument in good faith. I like to practice my argumentation style on social media.
I began, as all good arguments should with Discovery. Discovery begins with Fair Rhetorical Tactic #1 Information Seeking via Inquiry (Interrogatories): Why do you think I am a racist? The propagandist answered this question by referring to racist things that I had written. Amusingly, she said these things were creepy, and that racism made her skin crawl. (This turned out not to be true, at least not to me, because she ended up saying some things that I found extremely racist.) At that point, I informed her that I was merely repeating things that white people had said to me; and if she thought those things were racist, it wasn’t me who had said them. I entered into genuine honest, good faith dialogue around this, and I explained how I interpreted the statements, that she had labeled racist.
I followed up with a genuine question: Aren’t you accusing the white people who said these things of racism? This was not a concession she wanted to make so she avoided it. I cannot remember how exactly. She had just wanted to publicly label me a racist, and that had backfired on her. It was also ironic for her to want to accuse me of being a racist, because her general default position that she was arguing was that racism does not exist. This brings us to propaganda tactic number 3: the dismantling of the use of logic. How can this individual accuse me of being a racist, while simultaneously asserting racism does not exist?
Think about this. This makes no sense! This is the kind of propaganda, I really, really, really hate! It sort of feels like someone sticking a chopstick into your ear and scrambling your brain a bit. It’s like trying to hit a moving target. There is no logical defense to this kind of argument. None.
Because I was using logic, and Fair Rhetorical Tactic #1 Information Seeking to simply try and understand her position, she began to get frustrated. Beyond relying on the techniques of distraction/deflection/name-calling or hypocrisy, she wasn’t prepared to engage in any real communication or logical rhetorical arguments. This is how propagandist operate. They will seek to derail any communication that is based in fair and honest rhetorical strategy. It does not serve their agenda.
And so, she went back to propaganda tactic number 2: distraction/deflection via accusations. She accused me of lying about what white people had said to me. Now I was getting a little bit irritated by the lack of logic. Why would I do that? I can’t remember my response, but this is when I began fighting unfairly and putting her on the defensive. First, I asked her:
Maybe ask yourself why you find black people speaking up for themselves (and being the president) so threatening, if you do.
Next, I flippantly said:
What I wrote obviously hit a nerve, but let me guess, you’re not racist. But you take issue with BLM and Obama and Colin Kaepernick, and any black person who has the audacity to say, “please don’t kill me.” But you’re not racist.
She responded with a triple whammy.
First, she insisted indignantly that racism doesn’t exist, while accusing me of lying about being exposed to racism (usage of propaganda tactic number 3: the dismantling logic.) Secondly she jammed Propaganda tactic number 1: name-calling together with propaganda tactic number 4: unfair discrediting by calling me crazy. The propagandist love to call crazy, as it is a two-fer. You need to take your meds! This clever accusation paints the speaker as an unreliable and untrustworthy narrator. It forces them on the defensive, which I was. I had reached a point where I no longer had any desire to continue conversing with her.
Finally, after calling me a crazy liar, (for merely for expressing what my lived experiences had been) she went back to Propaganda tactic number 1: (name-calling). She accused me of being manipulative, dishonest, and unethical, for the flippant comment I made above.
Was the comment any of that? Was it manipulative? I generally want to know, truly! I’m asking. I would say flippant and sarcastic. (Sarcasm does have anger underneath it, so there is that). But is that manipulative? Where is the manipulation? What about unethical and dishonest? Very strong words. I was making an assumption about her. This assumption pushed her into a full-blown BLM rant, to be followed up with her reasoning on why George Floyd had to die.
I blocked this individual. I have had all kinds of interesting conversations on Medium and I have encountered these tactics, many, many times, and they typically do not faze me in the least.
But I did something I had never done before. I blocked this individual and erased all of her communication with me. Why?
She was the one denying racism, 400 years of American history, and how we ended up at this point and time with hundreds of thousands screaming in the streets that black lives matter. And yet, I was crazy?
How I interpreted her conversation, how it impacted me, was I heard her saying, slyly and slickly through the use of propaganda: No, your black life does not matter.
And if you are white, out there in Fox News land, absorbing and studying this propaganda and repeating horribly hateful, racist and inhumane things to me and others, I will challenge your propaganda with honest dialogue and logical rhetoric. I hope that others will as well.
And if you do not care to be challenged in any meaningful way, I will block you; and if you don’t have the basic human decency to stand against the senseless maiming, torturing, and murdering, of really anybody, but especially black people and other people of color. You probably deserved to be blocked.
This is the line. I have to…I must draw this line, in whatever space I am in, even virtual ones.
Black Lives Matter