On Glenn Beck, “All Lives Matter” And The Current Attack On The Black Lives Matter Movement
Google “Glenn Beck racist” and you’ll find a treasure trove of the uber-conservative author and radio/television personality’s hateful rhetoric. Ironically, that didn’t keep him from leading the Restoring Unity/All Lives Matter rally and march last weekend in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama’s historic Civil Rights District. The hodgepodge event aimed at, among other things, affirming Christian values, drew a crowd of 20,000. The rally, however, served a harmful dose of ignorance and used religion as a means to convince Black folks, in particular, to forgive our oppressors as they continue to oppress us.
By now, you’ve read and heard countless news and opinion pieces on why the phrase “All Lives Matter,” a retort aimed at the Black Lives Matter movement, turns a blind eye to the systemic racism and police brutality that disproportionately affects African Americans. To make matters worse, Fox & Friends host Elisabeth Hasselbeck recently added fuel to the fire when she asked, on air, why the Black Lives Matter movement hasn’t been classified as a hate group. Her benighted question was in response to the tragic death of White Texas deputy, Darren Goforth, who was shot and killed by Shannon J. Miles, a man who happens to be Black. Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman blamed the shooting on the movement, and Hasselbeck, along with other like-minded individuals, ran with that unfounded sentiment. Even Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, who moved to remove the Confederate Flag from the state Capitol after the Emmanuel AME shooting, is on the attack. According to the New York Times, she recently said that the Black Lives Matter movement is actually endangering Black lives. “Most of the people who now live in terror because local police are too intimidated to do their jobs are black. Black lives do matter, and they have been disgracefully jeopardized by the movement that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore.”
It is this kind of thinking that encourages “All Lives Matter,” which, in my opinion, helps to uphold White privilege and structural racism by wrongfully assuming that protesters are saying that Black lives hold more value than those of Whites. BLM’s message is not exclusionary and does not negate anyone’s humanity. Nor does it suggest that Black lives are superior (unlike countless examples throughout the history of the United States that boldly declare that White lives are the only lives of importance). Instead, BLM seeks to not only shine a light on the inhumane treatment of Black bodies and Black lives that occurs on a regular basis, but seeks police accountability and the passing of fair laws that uphold justice. You don’t have to be a part of the movement to understand the need for these basic necessities. Just watch the news. Read the names.
“All Lives Matter” also encourages the belief and unsubstantiated fear that White lives are under attack just because there is a Black Lives Matter movement. The BLM does not condone violence. That would be in direct conflict with its mission, which is to disrupt a status quo that is clearly not working and not fair. Therefore, a march and rally supposedly organized to show the world what it means to live in peace and love that willingly utilizes this phrase has the opposite effect. It’s like saying, “Let’s just say all lives matter and call the anger over deaths of unarmed Black youth by police off. Let’s move on and ignore the bigger problem at hand. Let’s ignore the need for criminal justice reform. Let’s blame the victims, let’s blame the dead, who would most assuredly be alive if they hadn’t talked back to that cop or ran from that officer or resisted an unlawful arrest.”
When I saw photos from the march, Glenn Beck strolling arm in arm with Guiding Light Church’s Bishop Jim Lowe, who invited Beck to speak at the church and on the anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, I was disheartened. The Black church has played and will continue to play a crucial role in promoting and attaining civil rights. But that mission becomes more difficult and complicated when people in the church join forces with someone known to spread hate and harmful lies and under the guise of Christian fellowship.
In an interview with The Grio, Bishop Lowe said, “If a person accepts Jesus Christ, that makes him my brother.” Well, what if your brother encouraged people to leave churches that preach social or economic justice? What if your brother referred to Katrina victims as “scumbags”? What if your brother condoned the Constitution’s three-fifths clause? How exactly does Beck’s thinking promote Christian values? And why should he be excused just because he identifies as Christian? Achieving justice, promoting peace, spreading love, challenging negative and racist stereotypes – all of this takes a collective effort, but standing with someone whose career and political leanings have negated and undermined those efforts, does more harm than good. Supporters of all races who marched, rallied and chanted “All Lives Matter” without acknowledging the harmful rhetoric behind that statement or understanding why the Black Lives Matter movement exists, did more harm than good, in my opinion.
The Restoring Unity/All Lives Matter rally and march did not receive as much national coverage or support as Beck’s Restoring Honor rally on the National Mall in D.C. in 2010, attended by nearly 90,000 people. Maybe that’s because people are beginning to understand the larger issues at hand and see Glenn Beck, and Black Lives Matter detractors, for who they really are.