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Extremism in the defense of BLM is no virtue


There is something epically stupid about the extremes of the BLM movement in America.

I italicize the word extremes with deliberateness, to make a point. Let me be clear: The movement itself is blessed and welcome. I hope, as I’m sure you do, it marks a pivot point in American history, when we finally overcome the horrid legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Yet the movement has unnecessary extremes that compromise its integrity and thus need to be called out. As an example, here’s a poster that’s popular in Oakland; you see it on lampposts and walls:



This is what I mean by “extremes.” Let’s break it down.

No such thing as good cops? How about the Oakland Police Department officers who volunteer for the Police Activities League, which runs track & field, basketball and many other recreational programs for young people? How about the cops who were called in response to a three-year old boy who was choking and turning blue? One cop performed CPR while the other cleared his airway. The kid thankfully recovered.

How about the cops who crawled into the smoking ruins of the 980 freeway after it collapsed in the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and rescued drivers trapped in cars, at great peril to their own lives as the remains of the freeway threatened to collapse? How about the cops who put their lives in imminent danger to rescue people stuck in the Camp Fire? How about the cops who donated their own money to buy equipment for a LatinX gardener whose truck was stolen with thousands of dollars of his tools? How about the Oakland cops who provide “Elf” stocking stuffers for poor kids every Christmas? I could obviously cite many, many more instances of police performing acts of kindness, compassion and, yes, heroism. These are good cops.

No such thing as bad rioters? How about the ones who looted and trashed the local CVS, 7-Eleven, Target, Walgreens, and many other stores in Oakland—stores where poor people work and shop? How about the rioters who smash bus stop windows, so the (mainly low-income and often elderly) folks who have to sit there waiting for the bus have no protection from the wind and rain? How about the rioters who wreck public park benches just for the hell of it? What does that prove? Whose civil rights are protected by wrecking a park bench? How about the rioters who assassinated a Black private security officer last month at the Oakland Federal Building? Again, I could obviously cite many, many more instances. These are bad rioters.

I do not believe that the vast majority of legitimate protesters are members of this violent minority of looters and destroyers. At the same time, they have allowed their beautiful movement to become confused in the public’s mind with looting and destruction. How? By failing to make it clear that violent people in their midst will not be tolerated. By failing to speak up, clearly, consistently and loudly, against the violent people. By not challenging such stupidities as



And, yes, by not putting grafitti up that says “Many cops are great.”

It would be very sad and historically tragic if we allow this post-George Floyd moment to be wasted. It would be a catastrophe beyond calculation if trump (I never capitalize his name) were to be re-elected. If these things happen—trump in for a second term, the BLM movement thwarted–the main sufferers will be Black Americans themselves. And yet, the extremes that are hijacking the movement carry the threat of nullifying it. donald trump knows this. He is using those extremes to frighten just enough voters to elect him to a second term, as he did in 2016. Now, I have spoken with enough protesters here in Oakland to understand a part of their rationale. They know they’re potentially undermining the public’s support of BLM. But their reasoning is, “Bring the whole rotten thing down. Burn it to the ground, then start over.” That, I might remind you, is from the Steve Bannon anarchist playbook. Bannon said, “That’s my goal…I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

And Bannon’s #1 fan, donald j. trump, said almost the identical thing: “When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be, when we were great.”

Apparently, the interests of the fascists—Bannon and trump—coincide perfectly with the interests of the BLM extremists. Which I find very interesting. Both sides want to provoke a violent clash in this country, one they think they will win. Neither side wants a peaceful, reasonable solution. Both sides are profoundly wrong. We, the People, have to show them both that we don’t want extremism, because if that’s our only choice, in the end, nobody wins, and everybody loses.

  1. Bob Rossi says:



    I’ve seen signs saying the first, although I haven’t seen the second. And I’m not sure which is worse?

  2. They’re both ridiculous.

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