Last weekend there was a society changing event in Sydney (similar events happened in London, Glasgow, New York and many other cities). The Black Lives Matter march was eventually permitted to go ahead with around 10,000 participants. It was deemed by the Sydney appeals court to be legal – although the law says that we are not allowed to meet in more than groups of ten. Why did this happen? Because the authorities feared disorder.
On Saturday 6th June the BBC reported that groups over six were illegal but the police refused to enforce it for fear of disorder. This is why this event was society changing. It is important to challenge and defeat racism within society – both individual and systemic. But I don’t believe the events of this past weekend will see any change for good in our society. In fact, I suspect it will end up making things worse. They have done more to aid the far-Right (and Left) than anything. The rule of law, reason and rationality have been replaced by the rule of the mob and who shouts loudest on social media. All aided and abetted by governments, police and media.
I don’t want to say anything about BLM – the organisation (I will leave that for another time). But that does not mean, as Twitter tells me, that I don’t think Black lives matter. They do. And the simple riposte – ‘All lives matter’ – doesn’t help. The point about saying Black lives matter is to say that they matter (or should) as much as any other people’s lives. Any Christian should agree with that.
What I am concerned about in this article is the hypocrisy, the mob rule and especially the breakdown of law and order.
We have teachers who say that it’s not safe to teach children in schools – but its ok to go on demonstrations in London. We have health professionals who warned us that going to visit someone was putting their lives at risk – but commended mass demonstrations.
We had Iain Livingstone, Chief Constable, tweeting “If neighbours are having a party call the police” but then after a mob pulled down a statue in Bristol we had this Chief Constable telling us that if the mob is big enough the police will make ‘a tactical decision’ and let you do what you want.
The BBC news department managed to outdo even its woke self. They claimed that the officer who was thrown off her horse after bricks were thrown at it “knocked herself off her horse”. The BBC also had this incredible headline
Can you imagine what the headline would have been if a right-wing protest had resulted in 27 police officers being hurt? I suspect the words ‘largely peaceful protest” would have been nowhere near it.
The double standards were well summed up by Brendan O’Neill.
It was hard to escape the conclusion that the protest was tweeting made flesh, a noisy display of virtue disguised as a radical assembly.
The double standard was made crystal clear by Labour MP Dawn Butler. When in mid-May Boris Johnson relaxed the lockdown rules and said some people could return to work, Ms Butler fumed. She said the PM was being ‘reckless’ and, get this, was ‘sending people out to catch the virus’. And yet when Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake criticised the BLM demo on the basis that it could cause a second spike, Butler responded: ‘Don’t you dare! Don’t even go there!’
The justification for these things is important they say. BLM is important. So is going to my friend’s funeral. So is visiting my elderly parents. Way more important than tearing down a statue in Bristol, or attacking police in London, or nicely protesting in Glasgow.
The politicians of course joined in the hypocritical double standards – suddenly those who called for the head of Dominic Cummings because he was endangering lives; found out that having thousands of people together was not endangering lives. The ‘science ‘quickly changed to fit the politics! In Scotland, the justice secretary, who would fine you if you went beyond a five-mile radius from your home – was implicitly condoning mass gatherings. Because he agreed with the cause. I have to,at this point, give credit to the impressive Labour leader Keir Starmer for criticising his own MP, Barry Gardiner for attending one of these protests.
Hypocrisy is usually accompanied by its twin, illogicality. If we are going to destroy anything to do with slavery that’s the Coliseum, the pyramids and most ancients monuments gone. Perhaps we should take down the statues of Keir Hardie who was a rabid anti-Semite? Of course, Karl Marx should go! And if you care about African American lives then you should defund Planned Parenthood, whose founder, Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist who thought that abortion was particularly good for getting rid of poor black babies. Will Humza Yousaf demand that all Mosques be taken down because Mohammed was also a slave trader?
But the hypocrisy, illogicality were then joined by the lunacy – as Os Guinness warmed in his excellent book – A Free People’s Suicide. When I first saw this report, I did not retweet it – because I thought it must have been a spoof. But apparently its true (it must be – it was on CNN!). “Minneapolis City Council has pledged to dismantle the local police department. Nine of 13 councillors said a “new model of public safety” would be created amid nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s death last month”.
Apparently BLM want to defund the police. In other words do away with them. Listen to what one activist said about why and how this would work.
CAMEROTA: “What if in the middle of the night my home is broken into. Who do I call?” BENDER: “Yes, I hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors. And I know — and myself, too, and I know that that comes from a place of privilege.”
Think about what she is saying. If you can have the police come and protect you and uphold the laws, you are privileged – so you should give up your privilege and have no police so you can be like those who are oppressed. Let’s take that the next step. If you have a house, you are privileged – so let’s burn down your house so you can empathise with the homeless. What’s even worse is the sheer naivety of the proposal – that community groups etc could police the neighbourhoods. So, we are literally going to have vigilante groups, armed militias and mobs bringing ‘justice’. Welcome to Beirut.
The Basis of Law
Western Liberal democracies are founded upon some basic principles derived from the Bible. One of which is equality before the law for all. That principle was trashed this weekend. The police and some politicians said that if your mob was big enough and prepared to cause enough trouble you could get away with it. Actually, it was worse than that. The reality is that if you are big enough, violent enough and your political cause is one that the police approve of – you can break the law. If you were a group that the police did not approve of – then you can expect the full iron fist of the law. None of that sensitive policing to non-PC groups!
Equality Under the Law
Here in Sydney there was a social contract between the people and the authorities. We believed and acted upon what they said about not gathering and having our freedoms restricted in order to prevent the spread of Covid 19. After the march this weekend I have noticed a considerable change in attitude. If they can do it – why not us? If the Court says its legal for thousands of people to march in the CBD, then why should I pay a fine for taking a drive to the beach? In the UK and the US, I am concerned that that most basic of all legal principles, equality under and before the law, was already being eroded. This past weekend has made it worse. If you have money, if you have media power, if you have the right political cause, then the law will treat you differently from those who don’t have those privileges.
Carl Trueman has a great article which points out that the reason the young people (and the Progressives) in the West are more concerned about Minneapolis than Hong Kong is that they (of both right and left) no longer really care for democracy (and often see it as a hinderance) and see ‘identity’ as the most important factor.
Black Lives Matter
All of this matters because black lives matter – as well.
When law and order breaks down it is, as always, the poor who suffer the most. We had further proof of that last weekend. This is an absolute heart-breaking story from Chicago. On Sunday May 31st 18 people were murdered in Chicago – the highest total for sixty years. I suspect most if not all of them were black – and most were probably murdered by African Americans. Do these black lives not matter?
With Covid 19 and the riots over George Floyd the police received 65,000 call outs – 50,000 more than normal. People are angry, people are poor – what they need most of all is justice and the rule of law. Actually, perhaps what they need most of all is hope. But one thing is sure – without justice there is no hope.
What is justice? Plato said in The Republic that it was ‘minding your own’ business. Which can easily be misunderstood (he wasn’t saying you have nothing to do with other people or society at large) but that you first of all must learn to see and do justice in your life. The prophet Micah showed us the way:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Without spiritual renewal and reformation – the West is finished. Protestors will saw off the branch they are standing on. The West will freely commit suicide. Who can save us from ourselves? Lord, have mercy!