Let’s not sugarcoat it: “All Lives Matter” is a fundamentally white supremacist statement. For those of you who haven’t put more than thirty seconds of thought into this phrase, here’s a brief primer: “Black Lives Matter” was coined as a response to the massively disproportionate levels of police violence against unarmed black Americans, and (this part is important) the refusal of prosecutors and police departments to sentence or even charge these blueshirted killers. The whinging cry of “All Lives Matter” ignores the essential message of BLM—of course all lives matter, but some are currently in far more jeopardy than others (spoiler: it’s the black ones)—and thus is only invoked in order to shut black people the hell up. It’s an explicit reinforcement of the status quo—and the status quo is white supremacist.
This shrill shriek of “why is no one bringing awareness to problems that don’t EXIST?!” has been splattered gorily across newspaper headlines everywhere in the past few weeks—from Martin O’Malley’s tone-deaf proclamation and subsequent apology to Jeb Bush’s swaggeringly “anti-PC” response and implication that BLM protesters place no value on the lives of whites—but perhaps no instance has been more infuriating than the “All Lives Matter March,” hosted by sentient tube of Elmer’s Glue Glenn Beck and perennial AOL chatroom joke Chuck Norris.
It seems a disservice to the march to discuss it without also discussing its organizers. Glenn Beck—best known for crying about how much he loves America (apparently an idiosyncratically Mormon expression of masculinity and sincerity) and writing a dizzying array of books about The Real America, The Heart Of America, The Bulging Muscles Of America, and so forth—decided that the best way for him to express his absolute disgust at the notion of black lives having inherent worth was to coopt the BLM movement into some sort of poorly-defined march to “aid persecuted Christians in the Middle East.” Because, as always, when white Americans are confronted with injustices they’ve perpetrated, their most effective tool is to thrust an accusatory finger towards The Foreigners. This ostensible purpose for the march is not mentioned in many news articles, and buried in the second or third paragraphs of the rest—these people (or at least a great many of them) aren’t showing up to help Middle Eastern Christians. They’re showing up to tell black Americans to shut up.
Chuck Norris, of course, is Chuck Norris—the inexplicable punchline to ten thousand cringeworthy jokes from the mid-2000s (which were originally, and far more satisfactorily, centered around Vin Diesel). In his personal life, Norris is a rather more sinister figure, campaigning against the National Day of Silence meant to bring awareness to the bullying of LGBT youth, repeatedly championing creationism, and warning that Barack Obama’s reelection would cause Americans to “lose our country forever.” His personal causes are relics of a bygone era, as is he. He spends a lot of time writing for far-right conspiracy theory website WorldNetDaily now. Like, a lot.
Also in attendance was the guy who played Derek Zoolander’s dad, as well as Rafael Cruz, a guy with an even stupider son. To its credit, the march pulled somewhere around 20,000 attendees—at least half of whom paid $12 each to attend the “Restoring Unity rally,” presumably to hear Glenn Beck howl about the world’s unfair treatment of white Christians. All Lives Matter—but paying lives matter more.
I’m not surprised by who’s behind these events*, or that they’re gaining traction, so much as the fact that they’re not gaining more traction. “All Lives Matter” isn’t just the purview of conservatives—liberals vomit up the phrase whenever it’s personally or politically convenient (which is usually whenever black radicals are presenting them with uncomfortable truths), and I’ve even seen a couple of self-identified leftist radicals use it. So it’s a painful thing to admit, but I did feel a flutter of subconscious relief that only twenty thousand people showed up in Birmingham to chant gibberish phrases and do their best to center national events on their own banal, antiquated, self-involved nonsense.
*Full disclosure: Glenn Beck once personally blocked me from his Facebook page because I wouldn’t stop posting erotic fan-fiction about him and Bill O’Reilly. This was seven years ago and I will never stop laughing about it.
Of course, the entire conceit behind “All Lives Matter” has been repeatedly laid bare: as if its greatest proponents weren’t evidence enough of its explicitly reactionary nature, the rank-and-file are somehow worse. Soon after Sandra Bland’s highly suspicious death in police custody, a mural intended to honor her memory was defaced—with a fucking moustache and, of course, “ALL LIVES MATTER.” The mural, though, didn’t even originally say “Black Lives Matter”—simply the depiction of a dead black woman was enough to raise the ire of these disrespectful ogres. Sandra Bland’s life, and death, didn’t matter enough to protect her image from defacement.
And that, really, is as succinct a description of this “movement” as they come: all lives matter, until they don’t.
Art by TN (a fair-use repurposement of this comic).