Liam Rhodes

Enough is enough: You can think black lives matter without supporting Black Lives Matter

Enough is enough: You can think black lives matter without supporting Black Lives Matter

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I’ve held off commenting on this publicly for fear of being condemned a racist. I don’t know why. Perhaps I am, like most others, giving into identity politics and the virtue-signalling, woke bigots (look up the definition) and what they have demanded of us. Ideological purity; with us or against us from the second a hashtag is launched; social media witch-hunts to find something just ever so distasteful that someone might have tweeted twelve years ago. I’m sick of it.

As I type these words, I feel like I have to display my “liberal credentials”. This is what we’ve become. I support same-sex marriage (I fought for it – hard – probably before some reading this were 12). I am a passionate advocate of disability rights, minority rights (I am a member of the LGBT community), I consider myself a feminist, blah blah blah.

I am, like the vast majority of people, an “anti-racist”. The fact that this has become a word is troublesome in and of itself: Since when did we have to have a word for someone who is not a racist? Is this something to which you should aspire, as opposed to normally be? Should someone be applauded for this? It is the state that normal people should be in.

It isn’t something that, now, especially as Black Lives Matter enter the Israel and Palestine debate, that you can proudly say if you’re associated with them. Because this won’t, eventually, be a campaign about race – and indeed, from what I have seen, it has been a section of the economic left who have been driving this. And therein lies the problem: Black Lives Matter started as a social cause and has instead morphed into an ideology based largely on literally tearing down anyone who may not have believed, years ago, in the same things that we do.

Guess what? Very few people did. In fact, you, who may be part of the woke, cancel culture, virtue-signalling collection of middle-class Guardian readers who’ve never really had to fight for anything, would have probably been a racist. Yes, really. You!

When a campaign says “defund the Police” and then has to issue multiple iterations on what it means by that, do we not realise that we are not supporting a campaign that has just black lives at its core? We’re supporting one that, depending on who you speak to in the movement, either wants sensible changes to, say, US policing and psychological screening, or the extremes of actually not having a Police force. We are also supporting a campaign which launches mass movements in the middle of a global pandemic, risking the lives of thousands of people.

Of course, I support the right to move and to protest; I do not take the Trumpian view about this. But it’s about appropriateness of timing.

More, they announced their support for Palestine in what is arguably the highest racial and religiously aggravated conflict in the world at the moment. We don’t hear their views about Tibet, or what’s happening in Hong Kong, or indeed the internment of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in China. Let me be clear, supporting terrorists that say that an entire race of people – Jews – have “no right to exist”, is racism. That is not to say that everyone who supports Palestine is racist (far from it), but to make a public statement as an organisation dedicated to fighting the injustices of racial equality, perhaps it might be appropriate to pause for thought about whether it is appropriate to comment on such affairs given the nature of the region’s conflict.

I know that, as a white person, I have something called white privilege. I also know that as a person with autism, epilepsy and another condition, I’m disabled and at a significant disadvantage. I am well aware of these things and I don’t need to be taught, in this way, that Cecil Rhodes, for example, was a racist. Only two years ago when student politics got a little out of hand at Oxford University, the vast majority of people in Britain were standing up to tell the woke that they don’t get to remove things just because they’re a bit upset. The Rhodes Scholarship, part of his last Will and Testament, has paid for hundreds of children from across the world to study at Oxford University. Will the university, having given into this new culture of ours, eschew that funding?

Equally, to pull down statues of people whose values were different to that of ours due to the era is palpably absurd. You can argue that Churchill was racist using this line of logic (and by modern standards, he most certainly was). He also won the war and saved our freedoms. I am not suggesting that anyone has attempted to harm the statue of Sir Winston (apart from the far-right), but what I am suggesting is that with each of these stories of men whose sins are now in the open, we must consider before tearing them down. Indeed, some would be forgiven for being a little aghast at the idea that people are going around in a liberal democracy tearing down statues because their values were different to theirs.

Anyway, enough. I won’t put up with it any more, and you don’t have to, either. You can believe that black lives matter without believing in Black Lives Matter. You can say these things: you CAN disagree with a movement whose underlying causes are ostensibly just that of equality while wanting equality.