Gaslighting: A favorite weapon of the BLM movement and the ways they’re using it

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The BLACK LIVES MATTER street painting came together in less than two days in front of Birmingham Railroad Park. (Jay Parker / Alabama NewsCenter)

The callousness and indifference shown by the officers responsible for George Floyd’s death were unacceptable. His life mattered. 

Despite what the left and the mainstream media would have you believe, you’d be hard-pressed to find many, regardless of race or party lines, who object to that point. You’d also be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t agree with the broader point that black lives matter.

What you will find, however, are people like myself who wholly believe that black lives matter, and that we need to address racial inequalities. What we don’t buy into is the notion that we must support the most extreme groups, ideas, and actions of those who claim they alone can determine who is or isn’t an ally in the fight for equality.

There’s a term for what’s happening around us. It’s called gaslighting. Defined by the Oxford dictionary as “Manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”

A Vox story gives a great explanation saying, “In the vernacular, the phrase “to gaslight” refers to the act of undermining another person’s reality by denying facts, the environment around them, or their feelings. Targets of gaslighting are manipulated into turning against their cognition, their emotions, and who they fundamentally are as people.” 

If you don’t buy into every aspect of the current movement and the players in it, you’ll hear all the ways and reasons you’re ill-informed, misunderstanding the problem or solutions, flat out wrong, racist, crazy, evil, or awful. These are standard tools of manipulators.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there isn’t a problem, nor am I downplaying the problems. What I’m saying is that yes, we as a civilized society can reject the premise that it’s 100% buy-in for those who riot, loot, tear down statues, want to open up the doors of jails, want police departments defunded, and all the other extreme ways that the current movement is undermining the law and common sense. 

Here are several examples of how many are falling victim to gaslighting this movement without even realizing it:

The lie: Talk to us! Wait, no shut up, you racist. You’re wrong.

You’ll hear, “We need a national conversation about race and racial inequalities. We need to talk about police violence and how it’s biassed against blacks. We need you to read these books and watch these movies.”

So you research police racism, and you find that overwhelming data and studies show that it’s not systemic. No, the reality of that fact doesn’t discount or take away from the lives lost, but if you want a conversation, let’s have an honest one. It should be based on facts, not manipulation or misrepresentation of facts, not anecdotal evidence but real numbers and real data, which overwhelmingly disproves the notion. From an op-ed published in the WSJ, “In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.

The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. The Post defines “unarmed” broadly to include such cases as a suspect in Newark, N.J., who had a loaded handgun in his car during a police chase. In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.”

So you read the books and watch the movies and come to the conclusion while there are important points to be considered, historical references that should be widely taught and ideas worth exploring, but there’s also some total B.S.  

This is precisely what happened when I read White Fragility and watched Just Mercy.

There’s way too much to cover in the book White Fragility. We’ll get to that, so let’s talk Just Mercy. What happened to Walter McMillian was criminal. Looking at the case and the facts surrounding it it’s hard to watch and not believe that those responsible for the perjured testimony against him or the hiding of evidence didn’t face the consequences. The system failed because of a wholesale problem with those tasked with protecting the integrity of the system. 

That said, watching the movie didn’t bring me to the same conclusion that others have gotten to after watching it. No, we should not do away with our entire criminal justice system as it exists today. Yes, suss out the bad actors and fix our prison system, but no, we don’t need to open the doors of the jails and hope for the best. 

So here’s where the gaslighting comes in. I’ve done my research. I’ve thought about the conversations around them and say, “Yes, some of this is good. Some not so good.” And the message back is that “No. You can’t pick and choose which of the ideas you like or agree with. It’s all or nothing. You’re just a racist and/or you just don’t get it.” 

Then there’s this from a story in the Washington Post, “When Ni­ger­ian chef Tunde Wey brings people together over a beautiful meal to talk about some of the ugliest problems facing our country — racism, sexism, police brutality — he can’t help but notice one recurring theme. After the people of color in the room have voiced their frustrations, fears, and sorrows, someone — usually a white ally — would ask, “So what’s the solution?”

“White folks or privileged folks are quick to try to find a solution, or ask for a solution, as opposed to sitting in the discomfort,” said Wey. “How do you answer what the solution is to racism or systemic injustices?”

Silly “white folks or privileged folks” trying to find a solution. Why can’t we just sit in our discomfort? What the heck. What kind of monsters are we? 

In the book White Fragility, the author states as though it’s fact that whites “see ourselves as entitled to, and deserving of, more than people of color deserve.” If you’re white and disagree, according to the author, it’s just because your ego, aka your White Fragility, won’t allow you to see reality.

She goes on to explain that “only whites can be racists.” According to her, blacks “lack the social and institutional power that transforms their prejudice and discrimination into racism; the impact of their prejudice on whites is temporary and contextual.” 

I don’t think most would agree with either of these statements or much of her book, but again if you don’t, it’s just your whiteness and white privilege that’s the problem. This is just the beginning of the absurdities in the cult of the “wokeness” toolbox. 

So take what you know about yourself and your beliefs, and if it doesn’t square with the movement and its leaders, then you are the problem. You can be trying to understand the viewpoints of others, but if you don’t agree 100%, you’re not trying hard enough. This is a form of gaslighting, and it’s toxic to the collective, shared goal of creating real and lasting change.

I can disagree with you on proposed solutions to criminal justice reform yet agree with you on education reform. I can agree with you that we need to reevaluate healthcare coverage but disagree with you on how we approach that. That point is lost to many at the moment, and we need to work harder to make sure that the conversations we’re having understand this. Again, the critical end goal is results. That’s what we need. 

The lie: You can’t believe black lives matter, support racial equality, and say all lives matter:

In this day and age, if you haven’t come to find that the media and influencers and their messaging priorities don’t represent the people, you can look at polling to see how out of touch they are. In the case using the phrases “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter,” you’d think that the masses have come to the conclusion that there’s only one acceptable phrase for the moment. You’d be wrong. Google “All lives matter” and you’ll find article after article explaining why you can’t and shouldn’t say that. A Huffington Post opinion piece covered this saying, “Every time you say ‘All Lives Matter’ you’re being an accidental racist.” Kudos, to the author for at least giving those who disagree with the premise the benefit of the doubt that we’re accidental racists as opposed to malicious ones. 

Is that representative of the majority of the nation? Not so fast.

A poll by Rasmussen Reports conducted between June 15-17 asked respondents which statement described their beliefs better “All lives matter” or “Black lives matter”? Fifty-nine percent (59%) say they align more with “all lives matter.” The poll broken down further says, “Sixty percent (60%) of whites and 61% of other minority voters put all lives first. Among blacks, 44% say black lives matter; 47% all lives matter. But this is offensive, so says the “woke” thought police.

Let’s not tell that Huff. Po author that. He said, “Don’t you think it’s interesting how I can be so sure that it’s only white people saying “All Lives Matter”? How can I make such sweeping generalizations?

Basic logic. It’s reasonable to expect that if you’d had to witness the gross injustices committed against those in non-white communities, you would understand why “All Lives Matter” is so harmful. You would know that it is, in fact, you who is missing the point.” Gaslighting at it’s best. You’re the problem. You’re harmful. You’re missing the point. When, in fact, reality doesn’t reflect that.

Let’s look at one of the most common analogies used against those who say, “All lives matter.” If you’re not familiar with the graphic that’s gone viral, about a house on fire. It goes like this, “If a house is burning down, you don’t stop the firefighters and say my house matters too as they’re on their way to the burning one.”

To be clear, that would be a fair analogy if that was what is happening. If there were just one house on fire at the moment, we could give it our undivided attention, but there’s not. Heck, there’s not even only one house on fire on the same block.

The fact is those responsible for the BLM movement stand idly by waiting for a house fire that fits their narrative before calling in the fire department, activating the neighborhood phone tree, and alerting news crews. Meanwhile, they’re standing in a neighborhood, turning a blind eye as an arsonist burns down house after house around them. If you point to the ashes falling down around them and the megaphone their holding in front of the “chosen” house and ask about the others, BLM and its supporters tell you you’re uncaring for the one they’re focused on. 

Gaslighting at its best; news flash it takes nothing away from the burning house to point out that a second firetruck should also be called to put out the fires at the neighboring homes. BLM and its supporters tell the world and the media that it’s uncaring and insensitive to look at the other burning houses, and they’ve said this enough that some people have taken it as gospel.

Look at what happened to Vice President Mike Pence who wouldn’t say, “Black Lives Matter” in an interview. He fell prey to a story in BET that began with this misleading statement, “Mike Pence couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge the value of Black lives during a recent interview about George Floyd, police brutality and Juneteenth.” 

What did Pence say that would lead you to believe he didn’t value black lives? From further down in the same article, Pence said. “And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation we’ve cherished the ideal that all, all of us are created equal, and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.” His greatest sin, of course, was having the audacity to say, “And so all lives matter in a very real sense.” 

If the fight is for equality and justice for all, we can’t exempt the lives and cases that don’t fit the narrative. I remind you again, the rallying cry isn’t “black lives matter: except for the black cops who die in the line of duty, blacks killed by other blacks, or even black suicides. It’s black lives matter.”

When’s the last time you as an adult allowed someone to tell you what you can and cannot say in the context of a discussion or debate? Imagine buying into this in the pro-life debate if the choice side said, “we can discuss this, but you can’t talk about the baby.” That wouldn’t make any sense. This you can’t discuss anything outside the scope of this narrow topic we want to discuss is genuinely baffling to anyone seeking true solutions and not just soundbites.

Image by Kris Staub at ChainSawSuit.com

The lie: If you support black lives, you must also support the organization Black Lives Matters (BLM).

Never mind that the name of the group is “Black Lives Matter,” which would imply their mission is to protect all black lives. The stated mission of the formal organization, according to their website is, “to build local power and to intervene when violence was inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” 

They’re on record countless times, noting that they’re not interested in weighing in on the many other issues affecting the black community. They’re focused only on a small subsect of the lives lost. So wouldn’t a more appropriate name of the movement be something more specific to the injustice they say the movement says is its true meaning?

While we see “Black lives matter” used as a mantra, it’s essential to recognize that this is an organized group with an agenda that goes far beyond just seeking justice for blacks killed by law enforcement officers. Again, according to their website here are the issues they are currently focused on:

BLM’s #WhatMatters2020 will focus on the following issues:

  • Racial Injustice
  • Police Brutality
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Black Immigration
  • Economic Injustice
  • LGBTQIA+ and Human Rights
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Voting Rights & Suppression
  • Healthcare
  • Government Corruption
  • Education
  • Commonsense Gun Laws

Conflating support of racial equality with the full support of the BLM group is misleading. 

It is possible to be a conservative, independent, or even democrat and not necessarily support the agenda of the organization. 

The lie: If you’re not publicly posting black squares and “woke” reading lists or heading to rallies, you’re clearly a racist.

The idea that you can’t support the movement without the virtue-signaling that’s become a litmus test for some needs to be rejected. Yes, it is possible that individuals are giving to their communities, are lifting up black businesses and black families, and did not put a black box on their social media. Yes, it’s possible that companies are and have been supporting their black employees without sending a national email to the world to outline those steps. However, hard it is to understand the idea everyone should be more concerned with actions than words.

Why? At the end of the day history books aren’t going to reflect who posted black boxes, but it will reflect the wholesale changes that occurred.

I didn’t because I firmly dismiss the idea that a box is indicative of action or feelings. Did I take action? Yes, but no further action than I take during the normal course of my life. Did I post about it? Nope. I didn’t need to. I’m not using my time and money as a way to show the world the goodness in my heart. I’ve been contributing to groups around town for years without posting about. I do that to help those I care for, and I promise those on the receiving end didn’t consider rejecting my donations because I didn’t post a black box or rush down to a rally and take an Instagram photo.

Enough already. As with any movement, there’s strength in numbers united with a common goal. Those seeking to sow discord because people aren’t “contributing” the way you want them to contribute is silly. Again, what’s the goal?

What should be a universal conversation about race and the work to be done has instead become a game of gotcha, with one side saying, either accept and adopt our talking points, our assessment of the current situation, and our solutions or face the wrath intended to destroy and discount your life, corporation or small business. 

The peaceful protests that have resulted in personal, political, corporate, and overall systematic changes will inevitably make our nation better. There’s no doubt that the injustice of Floyd’s death will have a lasting impact. 

There’s a saying by those frequently gaslighting others lately, “We can disagree about everything except racism and sexism.” What that implies is that if they disagree with whatever you’re saying it is because you are racist. The list is long for this to happen too. The woke thought police will be quick to call you out, attempt to “cancel” you, attempt to shame you but don’t be fooled. It’s a trick. It’s a trap. Yes, as a white you can and should be able to value black lives, want equality in every aspect of life from income to education, job opportunities, access to healthcare, healthy food and everything in between for blacks and people of color and not have to fall into the trap that if you don’t buy lock, stock, and barrel into the BLM, liberal leftists agenda without fear of cancel culture.

Let’s not let the minority of voices that seek to guilt or shame whites get in the way of progress. Let’s not be bullied into believing that the loudest voices we hear and the headlines we see amplified are representative of our nation and the people in it. You don’t need my permission or anyone else’s. You can believe “All lives matter”, and you can say it without apology. You can value law enforcement and believe that excessive use of force is wrong. You can believe in criminal justice reform but still believe that violent criminals need to be put in jail and kept there. You can talk about race and what’s happening around us and say, “Sorry, not sorry,” to those who will inevitably seek to “cancel” you. That’s the only way we will move forward together.