A white man with a mental handicap this week was kidnapped and tortured by four young African-Americans who used Facebook’s live broadcast technology to share widely their misdeeds with the public.
The group of blacks – two men and two women – who since the incident have been arrested and charged with a hate crime, aren’t known to be affiliated with any (radical) organization or violent gang, but that hasn’t stopped irresponsible individuals, those whom find facts repulsive and unnecessary for debate, for assigning blame for the evil act at the feet of Black Lives Matter, a decentralized network of activists working to fight against anti-black racism and deconstruct systems of white supremacy.
Maybe the most high-profile of the misinformed, and the guy who appeared to have given the rumor its biggest breath of life, is conservative political commentator Mr. Glenn Beck, who just months ago expressed empathy for Black Lives Matter and said the activists he met were “decent, hardworking, patriotic Americans,” and that he would refuse to define each of them based on the worst among them. Appearing to understand why Black Lives Matter exist in the space it does, Mr. Beck’s false assertion this week, a dangerous one to boot, is perplexing yet not all that surprising, particularly because the criminalization of the group is a popular sport – and one that’s good for business – among the political Right, of which Mr. Beck is intimately connected, and due to his longstanding reputation as a provocateur.
I must now digress, though, as the issue is less about Mr. Beck being two-faced, and has more to do with the proliferation of fake news and how easily it’s accepted as truth in our society.
For sure, fake news – particularly when it’s used as a political weapon against African-Americans: propaganda post-slavery depicting Blacks as brutes and uncouth ne’er-do-wells who would be crushed under the weight of their own freedom was widespread and consumed regularly – isn’t a new phenomenon in America. Nonetheless, recently a spotlight has been placed on it, yet solutions to the problem remain minimal.
The most obvious solution, however, is also the hardest: increasing the critical thinking and media literacy skills among Americans so that deciphering fact from fiction isn’t such heavy lifting. But, also is the case that there are those who, despite knowing information to be false, value the lies because they empower their political agenda. In this moment, the political agenda is to discredit and demonize Black Lives Matter so that their goals – accountability for police who break the law to enforce it, for example – never materialize in the real world.
Fighting against an evil intention to smear may be just as hard as sprucing up the unsophisticated citizens who relish in fake news, yet the work must be done, and the labor should be executed by all whom, no matter their race or political affiliation, value truth over falsehoods.
For this context, the truth – that four blacks acted on their most egregious of impulses and harmed an innocent man because of his race and perceived political affiliation – is damning enough and doesn’t need to be sensationalized to sell. Futhermore, the truth is that those vile individuals have no established connection to the movement for black lives – in fact, their heinous attacks implies they don’t value their own black life and freedom, let alone another’s.
The idea that anyone associated with the well-intentioned social justice movement would act so off-brand, and in way that would endanger the success of the collective, is a false narrative, and the headlines that suggest Black Lives Matter was involved in the Chicago kidnapping is fake news!
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™