Do you know about G.K. Chesterton’s example of the blue world? He writes in Orthodoxy of a reformer whose passion is to make the world blue – not in the sense of unhappy, mind you, but actually the color blue.
“He could have heroic adventures,” GKC writes, “the putting of the last touches to a blue tiger. He could have fairy dreams; the dawn of a blue moon. But if he worked hard, that high-minded reformer would certainly (from his own point of view) leave the world better and bluer than he found it.” It’s a silly example of reforming, he admits, but therefore simple to grasp.
However, “if he altered his favourite colour every day, he would not get on at all. . .there would be nothing to show except a few blue tigers walking about.”
Chesterton’s famous summary is this:
So it does not matter (comparatively speaking) how often humanity fails to imitate its ideal; for then all its old failures are fruitful. But it does frightfully matter how often humanity changes its ideal; for then all its failures are fruitless.
This seems to me a paraphrase of Edmund Burke’s sage counsel that:
it is with infinite caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down an edifice which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on building it up again without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes.
2020 is the Year of the Iconoclasts, and it remains to be seen if it ushers in an Era of Iconoclasm – a sorrowful period during which not just stores continue to be looted by rioters but more of our history and culture too: library shelves stripped, and bonfires built. I doubt it will come to that, but even less likely is that a phoenix would rise from the ashes if it does.
When Girolamo Savonarola set ablaze the “vanities” on February 7, 1497, his intention was to cleanse the Catholic morals of Florence, not to destroy Florence itself. This is clearly not true of our contemporary iconoclasts: Antifa, Black Lives Matter (BLM), and the rest of the neo-totalitarian mob, whose lawlessness and seditiousness have only rarely been condemned or suppressed, even in the cities they’ve besieged. Indeed, they’ve often been praised by local officials – so much so, in fact, that some mayors have marched in solidarity with them, unmasked against COVID-19, even as they have imposed draconian measures against church attendance in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
If I recall correctly, it was in the aftermath of the death of the career criminal George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, that the basketball player LeBron James popularized the hashtag “#Kap was right” – “Kap” referring to Colin Kaepernick, whose kneeling at NFL games was in protest to what Kaepernick asserted is an extreme number of racist murders by white police of black suspects.
But Mr. Kaepernick is wrong. It is the heart of his argument (and of Black Lives Matter) that white police apply fatal force to black suspects at a rate and frequency that “proves” systemic racism. But if that’s so, why do the facts say otherwise?
Harvard’s Ronald G. Fryer Jr., who is black, oversaw a study that found “when it comes to the most lethal form of force – police shootings – the study finds no racial bias.” And few have the courage in the matter of cases of excessive force against African Americans to balance police overreaction, as it sometimes is, against a cop’s personal experience and his awareness of crime data.
This is not the place for a digression concerning those data, but, as the Bureau of Justice Statistics summarizes: “Racial differences exist, with blacks disproportionately represented among homicide victims and offenders.”
BLM’s website asserts that they “are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.” But they are not systematically targeted.
This is not to suggest that there are no racists in police departments or in any other vocation or location. There are – just as there are Marxists.
Speaking of which, some will object to the linking between Antifa, a largely anarchist group with sprinklings of Marxist ideology, with BLM. BLM’s leaders, however, are avowedly Marxist. Doubt it? Watch this interview in which BLM founder, Patrisse Cullors, plainly says so. A recent New York Times article insists the use of this video interview as proof of BLM’s Marxism is right-wing propaganda, a case of “digging up a statement from one of the movement’s early leaders claiming that several of them were ‘trained Marxists.’” That’s a curiously dismissive characterization of Ms. Cullors, BLM’s current executive director, and odd for the use of “early” to refer to BLM’s history, given that the group was launched in 2013.
BLM’s stated goal is to “fight to end State-sanctioned violence, liberate Black people, and end white supremacy forever.” The easiest reply to that, of course, comes in one name: Barack Obama. And to the extent that the United States has a racist past, which it certainly does (consider the Constitution’s original Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3, the Three-Fifths Compromise), American history since the 1860s has continuously, if gradually, eliminated vestiges of systemic racism.
This historical movement was achieved to a great extent by coming to terms not just with the sin of racism but with the religious basis of the Founding.
Some religious leaders, including Catholic bishops, have locked elbows with BLM in its campaign for racial justice. At worst, this makes them opportunists; at best, fellow travelers or useful idiots. After all, BLM and Planned Parenthood are cheek by jowl in the battle for “liberation.” (Until it became inconvenient, BLM’s website also took aim at “patriarchy,” “heteronormitivity,” and restrictions on reproductive rights.) Together they seek to paint the world black – in the worst sense of that word: of darkness descending.
*Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images [Note: ACAB = All Cops Are Bas***ds]