I have been very frustrated by the efforts of Black Lives Matter recently, and I wrote a tweet the other day that tried to capture it. It was something like this:
If the mission of Black Lives Matter organization is to harm black interests, then the organization is having success.
It was on the edge of my political threshold for tweeting, but I thought it was clearly enough in the vein of my regular themes (effectiveness) that it was worth it.
The previous version was going to be something like:
What’s the best way to tell Black Lives Matter that they’re accomplishing exactly the opposite of their goals?
The statement is the same: how can you have a humanist goal of improving visibility and compassion for a phenomenal cause, and then execute a campaign that creates the exact opposite?
Two people reacted on Twitter in an extremely messed up way:
It’s a good thing we have white people to tell Black Lives Matter that they’re doing it wrong.
I was immediately reminded of Lupus Liberalism, where one liberal wants to see good things done, criticizes when something is harming a humanist cause, and then gets labeled as a non-liberal because of it.
I responded with sarcasm at first:
Congratulations! You have been awarded +5 compliance points for saying exactly what you’ve been programmed to say!
Then someone else commented that I was taking the wrong position. They didn’t attack. They just said I was wrong.
I subscribe to the view that if you write something and get two negative reactions within an hour, especially on Twitter, then there’s likely to be thousands of people who feel the same way.
So I started thinking about the whole thing with new illumination.
Lupus Liberalism applied to me
The first thing I did was delete the two tweets (the initial comment and my follow-up), because I clearly did not communicate what I thought I communicated.
I thought about restating my point in a different way, but then decided to just write this instead, to fully work it out in my mind and lay out the thought process first.
Then I started applying the Lupus Liberalism concept to those who criticized my comment, and concluded that it did in fact apply.
I sent one of the commenters a link to the piece, actually, and he really liked it. Said it was absolutely true, but it didn’t excuse me from criticism myself.
I agreed, because it’s clearly true.
But then I started thinking of something else. What if Lupus Liberalism applied to my original idea as well?
Here you have people pursuing a liberal cause. They’re fighting a good fight. Addressing a real issue. Without any question. And they’re doing it incorrectly. They’re doing it in a way that is harming the cause rather than hurting it.
Now, I absolutely reject the idea that because my parents were white I am unable to point this out. That’s just ridiculous. I had nothing to do with picking the race of my parents.
But maybe you should apply the Lupus Liberal concept whenever someone is pursuing a liberal cause, even if they’re doing it ineffectively, and instead come at them with kindness.
How about saying something like:
I wish the BLM Movement would use different tactics to accomplish their laudable mission. Interrupting fellow liberals while speaking. Disrupting public places. These methods seem to be making people associate black people with bad things rather than inspiring empathy.
So you start by acknowledging that BLM is a great cause. And that they’re good people for taking it up. And then you offer your advice on how they could possibly adjust.
This way it’s two liberals having a conversation about methodology for accomplishing a shared goal instead of someone taking potshots from the outside.
This might not stop people from saying that white people cannot judge such things, but I care little about that. If people have to check an approved list of races and backgrounds before offering help to people the world would be a horrible place.
So I’m unconcerned about that.
What I care most about is opening the channels of communication between liberals working on liberal causes. We need to be more tolerant towards those working on shared humanist goals, and of those criticizing how those goals are pursued.
So here’s what I propose:
- Whenever a liberal sees someone working towards a liberal cause (or a cause that the group at least claims is liberal) you should start your statement with acknowledgment of the worthiness of that goal. Say something encouraging. Show that you’re in agreement. This applies to religious things, political issues, whatever.
- Then make the criticism that you think is appropriate, making it clear that you believe this to be a better way of accomplishing the goal that you both have, i.e., improving the rights of girls and women in the middle east, or reducing the number of innocent black people killed by police.
That’s communication. That’s improvement.
What I did was much the same as the Lupus Liberal that attacks a fellow liberal for attacking a religious belief that supports a primitive behavior.
The fundamental flaw is not starting with agreement on shared goals and then working from there with controlled and constructive criticism.
It was a good lesson for a Christmas Eve.