Letter to the Editor: “Truth Hurts, Lies Kill: Black Lives Matter” Response

The opinion piece “Truth Hurts, Lies Kill: Black Lives Matter” from the Wednesday, October 5 edition of The Houstonian may have been well intentioned, but is ultimately problematic. Chief among the editorial’s problems is the fact that it draws an unwarranted and highly insensitive parallel between the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Lives Matter movement. The writer’s basis for this comparison is, in large part, the fatal July 9 shooting in Dallas of five police officers by Micah Xavier X. The writer fails to draw a substantive connection between the incident and the BLM movement, and indeed ignores a couple of key facts that refute his argument. First, the writer fails to acknowledge the photographic evidence of protestors cheerfully posing with white police officers on the day of the Dallas shooting. These are not the actions of African-American KKK analogues, as the article seems to describes them, and indeed the friendly interaction between these protestors and police officers does not necessarily mark the former as outliers. Second, the Black Lives Matter movement worked to distance itself from the Dallas shooter by issuing an official condemnation the following day, stating, “Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday’s attack was a result of the actions of a lone gunman.”

The article also asserts, by way of drawing a comparison, that today’s KKK “isn’t out killing people” – a conclusion which struck me at first as facetious, until, lamentably, I realized it was stated in earnest. It is comparatively rare today, outside of fringe, alt-right publications, which are a segment of right-wing ideologies that reject mainstream conservatism, to find the BLM movement likened unfavorably with KKK; I am sure its inclusion in The Houstonian must have raised more than a few eyebrows. Let us take, to use just one example, the case of Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection on September 8, 2015, after being guilty of capital murder in the Overland Park triple homicide, which took place outside the Jewish Community Center and the Village Shalom retirement home. At the time of his arrest, Miller was reported to have shouted the words “Heil Hitler”; as to whether a discriminatory animus motivated his actions there can be really no room for argument. The KKK is classified as a hate group in this country and, thus, by the mere fact of its existence, causes harm. The group’s existence is an act of violence. Despite misguided calls to do so, the Southern Poverty Law Center has thus far refused to classify BLM as a hate group, for which its president, Richard Cohen has a solid explanation: “There’s no doubt that some protestors who claim the mantle of Black Lives Matter have said offensive things, like the chant ‘pigs in blanket, fry ‘em like bacon’ that was heard at one rally. But before we condemn the entire movement for the words of a few, we should ask ourselves whether we would also condemn the entire Republican Party for the racist words of its presumptive nominee – or for the racist rhetoric of many other politicians in the party over the course of years.”

On that note, it is worth noting that much of the editorial dovetails neatly with many of the comments made by Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, the unnamed presumptive nominee of which Cohen spoke. Regarding Trump, there’s no doubt that much of his inflammatory rhetoric would merit a vehement paws-down from former Bearkat Dan Rather himself, and with good reason.  We, at SHSU, should always strive to do better, and cast aside divisive rhetoric that would strive to elevate one racial group above the other; as Rather noted in regard to our upcoming election, “history is watching.”

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