Supplemental: The growing debate about Black Lives Matter!


Stifling Candidate Sanders:
We the people aren’t real good at formulating discussions. We say that after reading Jamelle Bouie’s new piece at Slate, a piece concerning Black Lives Matter and Candidate Bernie Sanders.

Don't get us wrong! Bouie’s piece is thoughtful and informative; it’s well worth reading. That said, we were struck by Bouie’s premise—or at least, by the premise which appeared in the headlines to his piece:
Black Lives Matter Protests Matter
Why the group is so focused on Bernie Sanders, and how that strategy is paying off.
Is Black Lives Matter “focused on Bernie Sanders?” Beyond that, does Black Lives Matter have some “strategy” to that effect?

So far, we’d have to say no on each count. But that isn’t just some editor’s reading of what Bouie says in his piece. According to Bouie himself, “Sanders gets the brunt of Black Lives Matter activity, at least among Democratic presidential candidates.”

Is Candidate Sanders actually “getting the brunt of Black Lives Matters activity among Democratic candidates?” At this point, we’d have to say no. We’ll also say that, in this debate, clarity matters a lot.

Has Candidate Sanders been getting the brunt? So far, no! Here’s why:

Sanders has been interrupted twice to date. The first time was at the Netroots Nation convention. The other Democratic candidate who was present, Martin O’Malley, received the same treatment. Presumably, Candidate Clinton would have been interrupted too if she had been there.

The second interruption, which happened in Seattle, has set off a possible era of bad feelings. That said, can we talk?

On that occasion, Sanders wasn’t exactly interrupted by “Black Lives Matter.” He was interrupted by two individuals, neither of whom was affiliated with the BLM leadership at the time.

Whatever you think of their behavior or thinking, we shouldn’t wander into the thought that Sanders is being targeted by a whole movement or group—is being subjected to some “strategy” in which he takes “the brunt,” simply because two individuals did something on their own.

Can you really spot a pattern or “strategy” here? Last week, two BLM people from Massachusetts went to New Hampshire hoping to interrupt Candidate Clinton. But they didn’t arrive at the venue on time, so they had to settle for a videotaped discussion with Clinton.

Should Black Lives Matter people be doing these things? That is a different discussion. For today, arguments and insults are starting to form as this premise takes shape in people’s minds. Yesterday, Charles Blow’s column poked at this wound a tiny tad, though that may not have been his intention.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses in Blow’s column. We’ll also suggest that you should consider the thinking of one of the people who staged the Seattle shutdown.

That particular person’s thinking seems quite striking to us. But at this point, it’s the thinking of one individual, not of some general movement.

In our view, Blow got way out over his skis in several parts of yesterday’s column. We’re especially thinking of this passage, in which he criticizes Sanders supporters who got mad at the Seattle Two, and perhaps at BLM itself:
BLOW (8/17/15): I must say that I, too, found some of the responses to the protesters troubling.

First, some people said that the disruption had caused the movement to lose their support. This seemed strange and extreme to me. How fragile must your support for black lives have been if a rally’s disruption caused it to crumble?
Please. A person can lose confidence in a group without renouncing the general goals for which the group stands. If people lose faith in BLM, that doesn’t mean they have ceased to have “support for black lives,” except in the frequently overheated world of a Blow column.

What happened in Seattle was done by two individuals. It doesn’t mean that Candidate Sanders is the focus of some “strategy” by the Black Lives Matter group.

Meanwhile, if some Sanders supporters end up deciding that they don’t support the approach of the Black Lives Matter group, that doesn’t mean that they no longer have “support for black lives.” It's a bad idea to turn every event into a giant dispute.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at Blow’s column. We’ll also consider the thinking of one of the people who staged the shutdown in Seattle. For obvious reasons, race is a highly emotional issue. It would be better if people on various sides tried to avoid getting a snootful or three and reaching unhelpful conclusions about what is, so far, just a few events.

In our view, Blow is sometimes inclined to get such snootfuls. Especially at our highest journalistic levels, we don’t think snootfuls help.

Nothing completely new under the sun: These incipient disputes strike us as extremely serious.

We think of noble Nestor addressing the Argives near the walls of Ilium: “Tonight's the night that rips our ranks to shreds or pulls us through.”

That said, ranks are easily ripped to shreds in the face of high emotion. Can you hear “a fire-bell in the night?” We almost think we can...


  1. Utterly reasonable, Mr. Somerby.

    Expect a good hard trolling, nevertheless (or more accurately, because)...

  2. Whatever it is you’re focused on, you can likely create the sense that it’s happening all the time. In the process, you might create some misconceptions about a phenomenon which is both real and important.

    Have we liberals been doing something like that as we discuss police shootings? To some extent, we’d have to say the answer is yes.

    Police misconduct does occur. Does it happen as often as we keep suggesting?

    We’ll examine that question all week. 7/20/15

    Still coming: Back to those Washington Post statistics. Also, Trayvon Martin, Prince Jones 7/22/15

    Still coming: Trayvon Martin, Prince Jones 7/23/15

    There’s more to say about all these topics. That includes those statistics in the Washington Post about fatal shootings by police.

    What can we learn from those very large numbers? We’ll continue such topics next week. 7/24/15

    But uh-oh! According to the Washington Post’s compilation, about twice as many white people have been fatally shot by police this year, as compared to blacks.
    Anecdotes versus statistics! We’ll examine those two routes to the truth in our afternoon posts all week. 7/27/15

    Friday or Saturday: Two sets of statistics 7/29/15

    Tomorrow: Two sets of statistics 7/30/15

    Black Lives Matter!
    Bob Will Get to That Bridge!
    Unless He Jumps Off of It!

  3. Inner city blacks are faced with a Catch-22. On the one hand, they're frequently mistreated by police, sometimes fatally. OTOH they depend on the police to protect them from criminals in their neighborhood. Ideally, BLM and people on their side can find a way to reduce the mistreatment without reducing the protection provided.

    Sadly, this hasn't happened so far. E.g., in St. Louis and Baltimore, there has been a surge in murders.

    It would be great if pundits like Charles Blow could put their minds to figuring out what policies can simultaneously reduce police misconduct, while not reducing police effectiveness.

    1. You seem to draw a connection between police effectiveness and mistreatment. It would seem cooperation and support from the public would only increase if the so-called frequent mistreatment ends. Personally isn't that how you would respond?

    2. Sounds right to me, in theory. However, as a practical matter, the fuss over police killings in Ferguson and Baltimore -- killings that were not unjustified -- led to a slackening police effort followed by a surge in murders. (I suppose there was an increase in other crimes, as well, but I haven't seen those figures.) Most of the murder victims were black. Ironically, the BLM effort resulted, so far, in a greater loss of black lives.

      I think one has to be careful with the word "frequent". In 2012, 123 African-Americans were shot dead by police. To me, that's much too frequent, even if most of these shootings were technically not unjustified. OTOH police no doubt have millions of interactions with blacks each year. I would assume that the large majority do not involve mistreatment.

      Because the media focuses on blacks killed by police, it's easy to overlook the fact that blacks are at far, far greater danger from black criminals that from police. In rough numbers, 50 times as many blacks are killed by other blacks as are killed by police. (7000 vs. 123)

      Improving the work of a police department in the inner city is a big management challenge. That's why I think the BLM movement needs find policies that will lead to improvement and get behind them.

    3. David I am surprised you have fallen for the BLM thought-conditioning. It is, I suppose, "unresolved" matter as to whether there was a police killing in Baltimore. Considering no other people in the police van had a problem with the way the ride went other than the persistent banging noises coming out of Gray's partition, applying Occam's Razor leads me to believe the most reasonable answer was that he knocked himself out, to death, in another scam attempt. Mind you this is a person whose mother allowed him to eat, or fed him, unswept lead paint chips while periodically bringing him in for blood testing until she was able to sue for a payday. A person who was best known for selling death to the black community in the form of heroin. A paragon of virtue for the BLM movement.

  4. Is. anyone else having problems with the new captcha?

    1. I think the pictures of pies are deceptive. All the road signs are out of focus.

    2. There is hope for cicero.

  5. "We think of noble Nestor addressing the Argives near the walls of Ilium: “Tonight's the night that rips our ranks to shreds or pulls us through.”

    Nestor was 110 at the time.

    1. I thought Nestor spoke the words of The Bob:

      "I wish I were young again and in my strength! Not one of you (young liberals) has the nerve to run and meet him."

  6. Bob can't draw em in like he used to.

    He needs a hero.

  7. The candidacy of Bernie Sanders is done. It's not clear if it is more accurate to say the "BLM movement" torpedoed it or that he shot himself in the foot with his extreme capitulation to a few agitators. Hillary has shown a tiny bit more pushback on this front and that has ended his chances. Really, Bernie, we need to go soft on crime, i.e. lower the standards of civilization, to end a system of "white supremacy"? You are offensive. And no one should be impressed that the champion of shiftless layabouts who want free shit can draw big crowds 15 months ahead of the election while the people who make the world go around toil at their jobs and take care of their children.

    1. People like you should be deported.

    2. "Vote 4 Bernie or Get Deported" would certainly be an game-changing piece of legislation to implement ahead of the election. But don't you think it's a little harsh? It's not like I refused to bake a cake for someone belonging to a protected class.

    3. No. Unamericans need to be deported.

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