What does Black Lives Matter have to do with the rioting and the loss of life that took place last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia? Well, absolutely nothing at all. That’s the obvious conclusion if you’re a sane, rational person who lives in a world of facts and objective truth. But if you’re a rabid Donald Trump apologist, and you’re foaming at the mouth to defend his ridiculous claim that “many sides” were responsible for the violence that took place in Charlottesville, then Black Lives Matter is nearly as guilty as the white supremacist who actually committed the violence.
Trump doubled down on his absurdly racist-tinged remarks today in a press conference. After being apparently forced to read a script and condemn White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis and the KKK on Monday, the real Donald J. Trump showed up in the opulent Trump Tower lobby and he was locked and loaded. His temperament and angry tone expressed his true thoughts about the rampage that occurred over the weekend in Charlotte. There was no denying if for Trump, racist groups are the moral equivalency of protesters standing up for inclusion, diversity and multiculturalism.
For Trump those “other groups” include Black Lives Matter. Never mind that Black Lives Matter has never advocated violence. Never mind that the organization—which grew out of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin—is now an international activist organization that campaigns against the use of force and systemic racism towards black people. That’s not to say Black Lives Matters has been all puppy dogs and ice cream. Hooligans attaching themselves to BLM protests have caused violence and destruction, but unlike white supremacist groups, Black Lives Matter members don’t show up to rallies armed to the teeth with Glocks and AR-15s. Nor do BLM members come to rallies dressed in protective vest and helmets, bucking for a fight.
But that made no difference to Fox News contributor Peter Hegseth, who attempted to draw parallels between Black Lives Matter and repugnant white supremacists groups.
“You can call [violence] out, and then, but still also listen, say, on Black Lives Matter, to the grievances of young African-American males in urban cores who feel like they are looked at differently by police. That discussion still should be had,” Hegseth said on Fox News. “White men “feel like, ‘Hey, I’m treated differently in this country than I feel like I should have. I’ve become a second-class citizen. None of it ― they tell me I have white privilege.’”
While conservatives like Hegseth depict Alt Right members as troubled, confused young men who deserve understanding, Fox News has been unsparing in its criticism of Black Lives Matter, depicting the organization as a “murder” movement and “hate group,”—even blaming the organization for violence carried out by black individuals who have no connection to the movement.
Case in point: On August 28th, 2015, a white Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy, Darren Goforth, was shot to death at a gas station in Houston Texas. Police later arrested a suspect, Shannon Miles, who is black. Despite no evidence linking Miles to Black Lives Matter, Fox News personalities nonetheless suggested that the protests and rhetoric of the group brainwashed Miles to commit the crime. Shortly after the shooting, Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade engaged in a highly misleading conversation with Milwaukee Country Sheriff David Clarkee about the death of Goforth.
As footage of Black Lives Matter protest played in a side-box, Clarke told Kilmeade he’s “sick and tired” of seeing headlines emphasizing the race of white officers shooting unarmed black people. The headline he’d like to see is “Black Man Shoots White Defenseless Police Officer,” Clarke said. As the segment continued, a banner appeared onscreen that read “Sheriff: #BlackLivesMatter Is Out Of Control.” Clarke wrapped up his uninformed comments by saying, “President Obama has breathed life into an ugly movement … we now have to counter this slime. This filth coming out of these cop-haters.”
In May of 2017, in a memorial ceremony for fallen officers at the Capital, Donald Trump gave a speech that many interpreted as a direct shot at Black Lives Matter, seeming to blame the group for the recent killings of police officers in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“We are living through an era in which our police have been subject to unfair defamation and vilification, and even worse … hostility and violence,” Trump said. “I want you to know that patriotic Americans of all backgrounds truly support and love our police. A very sad thing is that many of today’s politicians don’t want to say that, don’t want to talk about that because it’s not politically correct or they think it might hurt them with the voters. I will say it and I will talk about it proudly.”
But when it comes to the subgroup of Klan members, Nazis, Alt Right and white supremacists who support his campaign and make up a portion of his base—Trump has shown he’ll go great lengths—including deafening silence—not to offend.