BLM exploits a society that equates symbolism with substance.
Black Lives Matter thrust itself into the national political conversation not through systemic racism, police brutality, or violent protest. Instead, BLM used something as quintessentially American as baseball, apple pie, and the Fourth of July.
By naming itself after a proposition only a racist or a white supremacist could reject, BLM puts legitimate critics on the defensive and positions itself as the voice of African-American grievance. Meanwhile, popular culture ignores BLM's Marxist orientation, questionable platform, and silence on the deaths of blacks who did not die in confrontations with police.
BLM's branding exploits the increasingly cosmetic, narcissistic nature of an American society that mistakes symbolism for substance.
Social media's ubiquitous presence accelerates that trend. By posting Facebook filters or Twitter hashtags during times of crisis, users believe they are making a difference by essentially doing nothing. A culture that equates symbolism with substance believes President Donald Trump's tweets and speaking style merit more serious discussion than his policies or their consequences.
Perhaps the worst example of our increasingly cosmetic culture has nothing to do with politics.
For more than a decade, Major League Baseball has reserved the middle of the fifth inning of both the All-Star Game and the fourth game of the World Series for a MasterCard promotion, "Stand Up 2 Cancer." Everything stops so people in the stadium can stand for a few moments of silence while holding a sign saying, "I stand up for." Some signs have blank space for the name of a friend or loved one. Others have pre-printed messages honoring "those we've lost," "friends in the fight," or "researchers," for example.
MasterCard's representatives place signs on every stadium seat and offer them to interested fans before the game. When the middle of the fifth inning arrives, the stadium's video board prompts participants to stand and display their signs.
Not only fans stand. So do players, managers, coaches, training staff, umpires, camera operators and broadcasters. Nearly everyone in the stadium participates.
Corporate manipulation through virtue signaling at its finest.
(Personal note: I witnessed this during the 2018 World Series. I refused to participate. My mother died of cancer in 2009, and I felt disgusted with MasterCard's attempt to turn tragedy into a commodity.)
As MasterCard demonstrates, sports provides an unparalleled promotional platform. Political activists learned that lesson well. Former quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the practice of kneeling for the national anthem as a form of protest. After George Floyd's death, athletes in various sports not only embrace the gesture. Their leagues allow the athletes to wear uniformsor warmups with the phrase, "Black lives matter" or similar proclamations -- which also appear on playing fields and courts.
Fans who believe kneeling demonstrates contempt for the nation responded with their own protests, reflected in plummeting television ratings. An Oklahoma state legislator even threatened to revoke the tax breaks that the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder received in 2008, when the team moved from Seattle. Yet athletes, teams and leagues remain oblivious to those protests.
Why? What good is a method of protest if it alienates those whom activists hope to persuade?
Perhaps persuasion is irrelevant. As someone said on a Facebook page discussing the issue, "you're thinking about it. You're posting about it. Mission accomplished."
But what good is the mission if nothing substantive gets accomplished?
"Maybe you'll be a bit more motivated to do some of the anti-racism work than you were yesterday," said the same respondent, "or at least respond with less scorn to those who are."
Really? That's it?
If systemic racism is as massive a problem as activists claim, where specifically is it and how can it be defused -- especially after the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century destroyed Jim Crow laws? Surely, those are more important questions than the posture of wealthy athletes during the national anthem, right?
No, not these days.
By continuing to kneel during the anthem, those athletes draw attention away from the issue they claim to care about and redirect it toward themselves. Resolving problems and finding solutions is not the point. Making a personal statement in public is far more important.
The WNBA, a subsidiary of the NBA, has gone further. The WNBA not only officially dedicated its truncated season to promoting social justice. It fights a team owner who disagrees with its embrace of BLM.
The WNBA created a permanent Social Justice Council, described as "a driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control," as well as a means "to address this country's long history of inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted black and brown communities."
One of the council's advisors is Alicia Garza, who co-founded BLM and whom fellow co-founder Patrisse Cullors described as a "trained Marxist."
In response, Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, stated her opposition to BLM in a letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.
"The lives of each and every African American matter, and there’s no debating the fact that there is no place for racism in our country," Loeffler wrote. "However, I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country. I believe it is totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion.
"(T)o subscribe to a particular political agenda undermines the potential of sports and sends a message of exclusion," continued Loeffler, who added that she was not consulted about the move.
As a way to "reflect the values of freedom and equality for all," Loeffler wrote, she suggested placing the American flag on team uniforms and licensed merchandise.
"(W)e need a unifying rallying point for the American people," Loeffler wrote. "Because if we can’t acknowledge,
much less unite, behind our flag during this struggle, we’ll never achieve the goals we all want for each other."
Reaction was swift and merciless, especially on Twitter.
"ENOUGH! OUT!" tweeted the official account of the WNBA Players Association. Other playersmade the same demand while linking to a storyequating Loeffler with Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers' former owner. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life and imposed a $2.5 million fine in 2014 after players angrily reacted to Sterling's racist remarks.
Layshia Clarendon, the New York Liberty's point guard and a first vice president of the players' association, displayed the toxic combination of fanaticism, narcissism and class hatred that defines Leftist activism in expressing her views.
"The WNBA is the movement," said Clarendon, who played two years in Atlanta. "If you’re chanting Black Lives Matter or Say Her Name and not supporting the WNBA, then you’re missing the mark."
Clarendon then called Loeffler "the anti-movement" and a racist.
"She represents what happens when people choose the identity of whiteness over everything else," Clarendon said. "The saying, when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression, couldn’t be more poignant."
Next, Clarendon basically advocated revolution without using the word.
"This is why people don’t just hand over their power," she said. "It has to be taken. At a time when black people and political organizations have a collective voice and momentum, it’s no wonder people are terrified of voting becoming a fair fight, that sports leagues would start saying Black Lives Matter instead of shutting up and being entertainment, that we could defund the police and start pouring resources into helping communities instead of criminalizing them."
In a nod toward Stalinist political paranoia, Clarendon views with suspicion anybody who fails or refuses to support "the movement" -- and asks her ideological allies to do likewise.
"These types of people can be harder to identify at first," she said. "It's the bus drivers, the dentists, the Kelly Loefflers, the mayors, the principal at your kid’s school, the teacher, the basketball coach from your AAU team that has these views and are able to be chameleons. They smile to your face, but go in the voting booths and cast a ballot against your interests in every category."
The players are taking her advice by publicly supporting Loeffler's Democratic opponent in the coming election, Rev. Raphael Warnock, who supports BLM. During games, players wear black T-shirts emblazoned with "Vote Warnock" on the front.
Like the rest of the "woke" world, the WNBA's players seek to intimidate and silence anyone who dares disagree. Like the rest of the "woke" world, they demand that their society reflect their views exclusively.
As FrontPage Magazine revealed in "Sports in a 'Woke' Utopia," such a quest for dominance imitates the attitude toward sports that some of history's most brutal totalitarian regimes displayed.
Lenin reportedly quipped that his Bolsheviks would hang the capitalists with rope purchased from them. The hemp company winning the contract probably will have a superb marketing plan.