Blue Lives Matter. It’s like the new “White Power,” or an acceptable slur against the dignity of Black people when the n-word is not allowed. In the shifting tactics of white supremacy and privilege, Blue Lives Matter is the new All Lives Matter, an attempt to change the subject away from the violence against Black people by agents of the state, and hope that Black people and their problems simply go away. The hypocrisy is palpable.
The slogan du jour was on display on the first night of the Republican National Convention, in which Nixon’s “law and order” antipathy toward Black people was channeled with the utmost care. Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., who is Black at least in his outward appearance, managed to articulate the hopes and dreams of Trump supporters when he proclaimed that “Blue Lives Matter,” expressed his approval that Lt. Brian Rice, a white officer in the Freddie Gray case was acquitted, and then proceeded to quote Martin Luther King.
Not merely a slogan, Blue Lives Matter has been codified into law. Louisiana became the first state to adopt such legislation, which extends hate crime protection to police officers and provides for additional penalties for targeting law enforcement. Other states such as Florida, Wisconsin and Kentucky have followed suit by introducing similar laws.
As attorney and writer Arjun Sethi noted in an opinion piece on CNN, such laws should be reserved for those who are truly marginalized.
“This incident in Baton Rouge, about which details are still unfolding, is additionally significant because Louisiana, in particular, has made it clear that it’s more interested in protecting police officers than vulnerable minority communities,” he said.
While the Blue Lives Matter law suggests that police are under siege, the real war is against communities of color, Sethi notes, arguing that cops are not susceptible to hate violence or message crimes. Plus, police assume the risk of their job when they accept the position, and never has an occupation been risen to the level of a protected class. After all, being a cop, unlike being Black, is not a genetic trait, nor is it a permanent, immutable characteristic that can cause one to suffer from oppression.
On the other hand, police do have a great deal of power to kill Black bodies, and Black people and others are seeking justice and police accountability. All Lives Matter reflects a colorblindness that has been proven harmful to African-Americans, according to Sethi. Black Lives Matter, he argues, is an attempt to reject colorblindness and put race into the mix.
“Our collective refusal to pay attention to race and bias has blinded us to the inequities that African-Americans face in almost every facet of American life, including employment, housing, public education, and police violence,” he added.
As NYU Law student R.E. Stubblefield wrote in The Hill, All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter supporters miss the point. Black lives are not protected, and Blue lives are not held accountable. He likens the All Lives Matter stance to a scenario in which a group of people sits at a table each day and is fed a meal, except for one person. The person who is denied the meal risks starvation and says, “I deserve food.” The other people at the table then assert, “We all deserve food.”
“If you truly believe All Lives Matter, then you recognize there is no contradiction in saying Black Lives Matter as a matter of formal logic,” Stubblefield wrote. “Thus to mention it as a counter is to state through implication you don’t believe black lives matter — and that is the beacon of hypocrisy we as Black people refuse to accept. Especially when young black men are five times more likely than young white men to be killed by police, and while only 13% of the population, African Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.”
— J-H-E-N (@neosoulful) December 14, 2015
Moreover, the Blue Lives Matter slogan is a vehicle to channel raw hatred of Black people and a Black president, and to perpetuate racial stereotypes of Black criminality.
As Officer Blue wrote in the Blue Lives Matter website, “President Barack Obama is responsible for the assassination of the heroic police officers in Dallas, and he doesn’t hold that responsibility alone. Celebrities, politicians, and the news media all share that burden. When these people openly spread the false narrative that police officers are making decisions based on race, they are legitimizing the lies of Black Lives Matter and other agitators.”
Any racial disparities in police stops, in Officer Blue’s opinion, are due to the fact that Black people are the ones committing all the violent crime. The answer, he believes, is not the “false narrative” that Black Lives matter, but the need for personal responsibility in the Black community, in order to prevent what happened in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
In the end, those who shout “All Lives Matter” care little about Black people whose lives are taken from us by police. Nor have they uttered a word about the white victims of police brutality who do exist. And those who proclaim that “Blue Lives Matter” have such a blind and unhealthy respect for authority that they believe the police can do no wrong, and never pay a price for it even if they did.