Saturday, September 05, 2015

Gaslighting of the Movement & Non-Violent Resistance in the Virtual World

In the days that followed the ceremony and the hanging of our "Black Lives Matter" sign, I waited each morning for the call to come: The sign has been stolen. The sign has been destroyed. The sign has been vandalized. This, because probably about half of the signs that have been hung, or posted at UU congregations, have been stolen, ruined, or painted over, by vandals.

But not just any vandals. Vandals with a specific, malicious purpose. Vandals with the energy and focus and the ill will and intent to get up early in the morning, park their car where it won't be noticed, and apply spray paint, all the while crouching and hiding along a busy road, to our nearly $400 double- sided sign.

To turn the words "Black Lives Matter" into "All Lives Matter."

So when I heard about the vandalism, a mere ten days after the ceremony to install our sign, I was sad but not surprised. I had been meeting with a man whose cancer had returned, and talking about deeper things. Talking about life, death, family, and love. His love for the world, and for another friend, whom he will eulogize next week.

Shortly after that meeting, I had to prepare to return to Kentucky to spend the Labor Day weekend with my family. Stopping along the way to field calls from TV, radio, and newspaper reporters about the damage, as well as congregational leaders about the decision to re-hang the sign when we realized it could not be repaired, it took me 5 hours longer than usual to travel home.

I had plenty of time to ruminate upon what had happened, what was happening, how I and the congregation had responded, would respond, and what it all meant.

The war on Black Lives Matter has had a two-pronged front, and neither have validity. One purports that the movement is "Anti-Police" and must be stopped. The danger here is not so much the ignorant and ill-informed citizens that believe it as it is the pundits, politicians, and media moguls who are perpetrating this notion. The reality is that a better-trained, more well-informed law enforcment and judicial system and citizenry will benefit our officers as well as criminals and unarmed citizens. the reality is that people want to shut down this dialogue because they fear facing the facts about over-policing, police brutality, and unwarranted killing of not only Black citizens, but citizens of all backgrounds. Because the facts are incredibly disturbing, and demand change. Because people fear and resist change.

The second prong of this attack is the idea that Black Lives Matter is "racist" because "All Lives Matter," and so somehow it is wrong to focus on only Black ones. The absurdity of this argument is so blatant that I don't even want to spend time on it. Somehow, I prefer the anti-police argument, because there I can see the line of reasoning, the fear that exists for officers of the peace, the difficult decisions they have to make, the anxiety their loved ones face, and I can extend my compassion to understand the defensive and angry reactions they or their families might have to "Black Lives Matter."

But these people, goaded on by the politicians and the commentators who irresponsibly feed their anger, are actually dangerous. We are heading into a time where the simple and legitimate request for the grievances of the Black (and yes, Brown) community to be addressed is at a crisis point, and what we are seeing is an attempt to stifle it, tamp it down, shut off all avenues of dialogue.

Unitarian Universalists aren't going to allow that. When the rubber hits the road, we will be there. I know this about my fellow people of the liberal faith. We are going to hold the line. We are the people of reason and we are the people of justice and courage.

So my own act of non-violent non-resistance right now, is to keep on preaching, keep on reaching, keep on speaking, keep on hanging up the sign, keep teaching, and not be delayed. deterred, distracted, depressed, demeaned, or detoured by these voices of hate and untruth.... be they on Facebook, with spray paint, in comments on the articles, or on the radio. I don't answer them, and for the most part, I don't read them.

Truth does have a way. The sign is back up.