What Conservative Media Don't Understand About Black Lives Matter

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 09: People hold banners reading 'Black Lives Matter' during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 09: People hold banners reading 'Black Lives Matter' during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown at Union Square in New York, NY on August 09, 2015. Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and his death set off nationwide protest against police brutality. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The conservative media seems to have a distorted understanding of what the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement stands for. Despite having a clearly defined list of goals, talking heads like Bill O'Reilly are attempting to blame BLM for the recent police officer deaths.

While the vile "fry 'em like bacon" chants from one BLM group do nothing to help the situation, the reality is that there is no evidence linking BLM to these shootings. Beyond that, the data shows that police officer deaths are down this year while ambush killings, like the one in Texas, existed long before BLM -- having accounted for eight deaths in 2014, four deaths in 2013 and 19 deaths in 2011.

Oddly the conservative media were not nearly as eager to saddle the entire Tea Party movement with the shooting deaths of two Las Vegas police officers that saw the assailants drape the bodies with the Gadsden "Don't tread on me" flag used by some Tea Party groups.

It should also be noted that the conservative media defended those who took up arms against federal and local law enforcement in the Cliven Bundy standoff just two years ago. If support for these individuals was based on the belief that the second amendment is meant to "deter a tyrannical government" then these same conservatives should be out in droves backing BLM, since African Americans experience systemic inequality in the U.S. justice system that sees them punished more often, for longer terms, and with harsher sentences.

Of course O'Reilly is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to misrepresenting the BLM movement. Others, like the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, Ron Hosko,, believe that BLM "too often drift into the rhetoric of ignorance and hate" while somehow managing to use the same article to blame the broader spike in violent crimes across the country on "the anti-cop themes from such protesters (BLM), liberal politicians and the mainstream media." Apparently drifting into the rhetoric of ignorance isn't exclusive to the BLM movement.

Hosko also suggests that police reform is "much-needed," yet instead of discussing any of the solutions offered by BLM or proposing his own ideas, he resorts to the uniformed meme of black-on-black crime in an attempt to discredit the BLM movement. Data show that socioeconomic status, not race, is the greatest predictor of murder rates. But even if black-on-black crime were anything more than a conservative media myth, the suggestion that a group created in response to the shooting deaths of unarmed African Americans by police officers is somehow fraudulent because some white law enforcement official doesn't understand the organization's stated goals is astoundingly ignorant.

This would be like castigating the "Pro-Life" movement for only advocating for the "lives" of the unborn when their name implies they care about all life. The BLM and "Pro-Life" movements are both single issue entities. Insisting that your interpretation of their name defines their mission is idiotic. There are legitimate reasons to oppose the goals of BLM, but unfortunately the conservative media has concentrated nearly all of their efforts on vilifying BLM rather than participating in solving the real and persistent problems they are discussing.

There are also those like Chicago Tribune columnist, John Kass, who believes "our hashtag mentality oversimplifies most everything" then manages to oversimplify the BLM movement by stating "all lives matter. All of them. And that means police lives matter too."

The problem is, this suggests that those who support BLM somehow think black lives matter more than the lives of everyone else. This isn't the case. They've looked at data that show blacks are disproportionately killed by law enforcement and are asking the police departments or politicians to do something to change this fact.

Of course part of the issue with something like "Police Lives Matter" is the reality that being a cop is a job that one can chose to do. If a police officer feels the job is too dangerous they are free to quit. That option doesn't exist for African Americans. They are subject to a different set of rules simply because of who they are.

But perhaps the bigger problem with the "Police Lives Matter" is how differently the murder of a cop is handled than other murders. Photos of the crime scenes for the recent police homicides in Texas and Chicago show a considerable response from law enforcement that include federal involvement in a massive manhunt. While murders of police officers are typically some of the most difficult to solve, given their random nature, this sort of commitment to finding the killer also makes them some of the most likely murders to be solved.

From the outside this sort of over-sized response makes it look like perhaps to those tasked with protecting and serving, "Police Lives Matter" a little bit more than all other lives. Imagine if law enforcement dedicated the same time and resources to capturing every murderer. Imagine if the shooting of an unarmed black man ended with a trial instead of the typical quid pro quo failure to indict. Imagine if skin color played no part in how you were treated by cops.

Black Lives Matter is far from a perfect organization, but contrary to what the conservative media would have you believe, the only special treatment BLM is asking for is to not be treated as special.