“While we write and print millions of words about race in America, why is it still so hard to have a truly respectful, decent, and humble dialogue about perhaps the most complicated and contentious issue in American life?” asks David French in his Dispatch article “American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go.” Yet he does not mention in his story of personal change the elephant in the room: the Black Lives Matter movement’s radical cultural hegemony.
Establishment Republicans made the same mistake by ignoring the movement’s radical premise: that at its core, America is rotten and systemically racist, and thus woke Americans must rebuild and reimagine the country from the ground up.
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney marched with the Black Lives Matter movement, and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley tweeted, “It’s important to understand that the death of George Floyd was personal and painful for many. In order to heal, it needs to be personal and painful for everyone.”
Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell admirably tweeted, “Our republic can survive a pandemic. It can survive civil unrest. But ideas and deliberation are our foundation. America cannot be America if civil disagreement becomes a contradiction in terms. Anti-speech silencing tactics are a cancer in a free and open society.” But aside from McConnell and Sen. Josh Hawley, few Republican leaders denounced BLM’s central claim.
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Maybe many Americans are willing to have a productive conversation about race. Maybe they want to respectfully question the merits of workplace diversity training programs, for example. But the risk in participating far outweighs any reward.
Bow or Be Canceled
A Vermont school principal was placed on administrative leave for writing on Facebook, “I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get to this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point.” Tim Gordon, a Catholic high school theology teacher, was fired for comparing Black Lives Matter to a terrorist organization. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Catholic chaplain was forced to resign after sending an email in which he said Floyd had “not lived a virtuous life.”
Paul Krugman and a number of prominent academics called for the firing of University of Chicago professor of economics Harald Uhlig. On Twitter, Uhlig criticized Black Lives Matter, saying, “Too bad, but #blacklivesmatter per its core organization @Blklivesmatter just torpedoed itself, with is full-fledge support of #defundthepolice.” Krugman fired back, “Yet another privileged white man who evidently can’t control his urge to belittle the concerns of those less fortunate.”
No one outside conservative media can criticize Black Lives Matter without being fired or ostracized, so how can we expect the average American to chime in for a productive dialogue?
Furthermore, American corporations reinforce BLM’s cultural sway, driving conversation in one direction. The biggest corporations have donated millions to Black Lives Matter and related organizations. Diversity consulting has become fashionable.
Nike released a solemn advertisement morally blackmailing citizens who do not stand up for, or kneel to, Black Lives Matter. MTV changed its logo for LGBT Pride Month and Black Lives Matter. Even the children’s network Nickelodeon interrupted broadcasting to air a social justice message. Indoctrination doesn’t begin on college campuses with activist professors; it begins with “SpongeBob Squarepants” reruns.
Hollywood celebrities also play their part. Like corporations, celebrities donate millions of dollars and share videos of infamous antisemite Louis Farrakhan with their countless social media followers. Black filmmaker and producer Ava DuVernay, who directed “Selma,” warned white men in Hollywood that questioning social justice dogma could result in unemployment. “Kindly remember,” she wrote, “bias can go both ways.”
Polite Conversation Is Impossible
It’s baffling that any Republican leaders or conservative voices could think it is time to have a chat with Democrats about race relations. That discussion would never include conservatives or anyone else who dissents. Black Lives Matter is not interested in making fact-based arguments. Its activists win arguments through social coercion.
Meanwhile, the most important institutions driving American culture already picked a side. Their leaders kowtowed to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Maybe conservatives should be asking ourselves: How do we defeat identity politics and multiculturalism with the legal and political mechanisms at our disposal, and how do we erect our own cultural institutions to push back against corporate America and Hollywood’s influence?
Contra French, polite conversation cannot exist while powerful cultural forces erode the bedrock upon which this country was founded: the Constitution and the rights enshrined therein. When we form a strategy to defeat these forces and succeed, then we can talk about race relations without capitulating to radicals. Otherwise, no humble, decent, and respectful conversation about any contentious political issue will ever occur again in this country.
Citizens are targeted for their political views. Our American founding has been slandered. The last thing we should do is turn the other cheek.