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Squires: Radical activists prey on weak, emotional leaders to further destructive agendas

Op-ed
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

A number of recent articles on Black Lives Matter raise questions about how the group’s leaders have spent more than $60 million in donations.

Stories about fiscal mismanagement make for good social media fodder, but the much bigger lesson to be learned from the downfall of BLM is the ease with which radical activists preyed on the emotions of weak leaders and a sympathetic public to execute a self-serving, destructive agenda.

To paraphrase a powerful scene from the movie “Malcolm X,” “We’ve been had, we’ve been took, we’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok.”

We allowed committed ideologues to use America’s painful racial history and small number of high-profile deaths to transform our society and upend our civil order. Elected officials, academics, journalists, athletes, and leaders in big business justified stealing, toppling monuments, burning buildings, and harassing diners in the name of an alleged “racial reckoning.”

Our leaders wanted to tie themselves to a popular movement, but none of them seemed to realize the final destination. Mayors of large cities joined with radicals who characterized the police as agents of systemic racism. Some commissioned “Black Lives Matter” murals to be painted on city streets, although never in the neighborhoods where black people were getting gunned down on a nightly basis.

It was all good until the people walking in lockstep with radicals got mugged by reality. Homicides rose by 30% between 2019 and 2020, the largest increase in a single year ever recorded. Countless videos show criminals robbing pharmacies, clothing stores, and cargo trains.

Some of the same people who demanded we “reimagine” a new world with fewer cops and more social services had to abandon their utopian dreams in order to deal with the chaos and disorder they helped to unleash.

In many ways, the rise and fall of BLM started with the left’s elevation of Colin Kaepernick from mere quarterback to black liberation icon. The problem with the media’s treatment of Kaepernick starting in 2016 reared its head again years later as BLM gained national prominence.

Journalists turn into advocates when they stop asking difficult questions or challenging dubious claims.

Kaepernick’s ultimate destination was a full-throated call for the abolition of police and prisons in a series of posts demanding a completely new approach to crime and punishment. He also chose to compare the NFL combine to a slave auction in his Netflix series that exposed the depths of his intense racial identity issues.

Anyone paying attention could have seen this coming. A person who complains about injustice in America while upholding Fidel Castro as a champion of freedom and liberation is looking for full-scale revolution, not a few incremental policy changes.

There were also obvious red flags with BLM.

The organization’s “Black Villages” principle stated its commitment to “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, and especially ‘our’ children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.”

This paragraph alone should have disqualified BLM as a legitimate civil rights organization. Every person who interviewed Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza – two self-described Marxists – should have asked why a group that advocates on behalf of black Americans would ever commit to disrupting the nuclear family.

Journalists committed to informing the public would have asked why a movement that gained prominence after the death of Michael Brown never used the words “police” or “brutality” in any of its 13 guiding principles.

Instead, the media’s ignorance, incuriosity, and ideology helped BLM use the tragic deaths of black men to advance its real priorities – police abolition, LGBTQ advocacy, and making money.

They got rich, our streets got a lot more dangerous, and a lot more black lives were lost. Their rise is a symptom of a political culture influenced more by symbolism than substance. This is a bipartisan failure.

The U.S. Department of Justice released a report on Aug. 10, 2016, that found the Baltimore City Police Department made stops, searches, and arrests without the required legal justification. The DOJ found that the BPD engaged in a “pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution as well as federal anti-discrimination laws.”

I remember checking conservative websites like National Review and American Conservative to see if any of their writers would speak up in defense of Baltimore residents who had their civil liberties violated. I saw one column between the two sites on this report, and it defended the conduct of the BPD.

This stood in stark contrast to several stories both sites ran that month on Colin Kaepernick and his decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Conservatives showed they will pass up an opportunity to defend the Constitution and the rights of citizens if it means an opportunity to slam liberals.

The social justice movements of the past decade have helped entrench the diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIE) industry in every major American institution from K-12 education to Fortune 500 companies.

America needs leaders and citizens who can see an issue that requires public attention and find groups who are working toward a productive solution while refusing to grant legitimacy to Trojan horses dressed as allies.

We don’t have those leaders today because our culture is currently being led by people who are extremely vulnerable to emotional manipulation. Given the number of elected officials, journalists, athletes, and academics who were hoodwinked by self-serving activists, it’s clear that the next movement we need is a national embrace of discernment, wisdom, and knowledge.
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