"Why has the Black Lives Matter movement not been classified as a hate group?" -- Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Fox and Friends
Bill O'Reilly, in another conversation, answered this question in the affirmative and swore he would "shut them down." But how does one shut down the legitimate, organic forces of social change? In a modern democracy is the goal really silent, hands-folded conformity? Is this not a vision straight out of some futuristic, dystopian novel like Brave New World?
After all, racism is not a relic of the past to be found in a museum, gawked at and then largely forgotten in one's race to the cafeteria to enjoy a latte, as Fox News tries to peddle.
Racism still thrives. For example, between 2002 and 2014, consistently about 90 percent of people stopped and frisked in New York City by police were black or Latino, according to data by the New York Civil Liberties Union, gleaned from police reports themselves.
Even white felons are more trusted by employers than blacks with no criminal record. According to a recent study that attempted to measure racial discrimination in hiring practices,
Among those with no criminal record, white applicants were more than twice as likely to receive a callback relative to equally qualified black applicants. Even more troubling, whites with a felony conviction fared just as well, if not better, than a black applicant with a clean background.
Obviously, contemporary racism takes more insidious and subtler forms than its virulent predecessors. In the South during the 1950s, black people could not vote because of literacy tests, poll taxes, and threats of violence. Today Republicans cloak the denial of the right to vote in the subterfuge of countering voting fraud, even if it is so rare that it is virtually non-existent. For example, one can vote in Texas with a gun permit, but not with a college identification. A party that wants to deny people the right to vote is a moribund political party.
Therefore, movements, such as Black Lives Matter, besides being integral to developing the next generation of political leaders fighting for racial justice, are an extension of the civil rights struggle rooted in the 1960s. Now, today's activists may be angrier than the iconic civil rights leaders of the '60s, but this anger cannot be dismissed as illegitimate; for doing so would be a direct denial of the black experience in America, as the data on "stop and frisk" patterns suggests.
In a recent march in St. Paul, Minnesota, Black Lives Matter leaders shouted in unison "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon," one day after a policeman was gunned down in cold blood in Houston. Such demonstrations of questionable behavior will draw animus even from whites and others of good will. But shouting irresponsible, juvenile refrains is not the same as the cold-blooded killing of a police officer; and trying to connect the two, like O'Reilly does, is largely the work of someone who has not looked in his own heart to pry himself free of racial bigotries.
If the realities Black Lives Matter activists did not exist or were imagined, then Eric Garner would still be alive and not killed by a police officer in Staten Island who put him in an illegal chokehold for the shocking crime of selling loose cigarettes. With his dying breath, he repeated "I can't breathe" eleven times before succumbing.
When Fox News sycophants deny racism and condemn Black Lives Matter, they are disrespecting the death of Eric Garner and many others who died in police custody for no apparent reason. They are throwing dirt on the grave of Trayvon Martin, who was killed for walking down the street eating Skittles by a man-child who readily used as a defense the wide latitude given by Stand Your Ground laws to justify cold-blooded murder.
The white hegemony that conservatives are trying to protect no longer exists and they are the only ones who can't see it. No, the vision that O'Reilly and other conservatives have is largely one very reminiscent of a 1950s television drama where blacks were largely seen, but not heard. It is an anachronism as dated as any Norman Rockwell portrayal of Americana.
Whether it is Black Lives Matter who demand to be heard or others, Fox News will attempt to shout down the movement to protect their cherished vision of a monochrome America, instead of the messy, rigidly stratified America that so many face.