WHILE the world’s attention has been centred on the China virus and its impact causing countless infections and deaths, disrupting lives and bankrupting businesses and economies, the Black Lives Matter movement represents an even more destructive and insidious infection.
In 1919 the Irish poet W B Yeats in The Second Coming wrote: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’ and in the same poem: ‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity’.
Such are the anarchic and deeply disturbing times we now live in that Yeats’s words have never been more prophetic and apt. Ours is a time when raw emotion and mob rule trump rationality and reason.
The maxim attributed to Descartes ‘I think, therefore I am’ is replaced by ‘I feel, therefore I’m right’ and individuals take it upon themselves to decide what constitutes the truth regardless of the facts.
Across Australia, England, America and Europe thousands have taken to the streets, parks and thoroughfares ignoring the deadly and infectious coronavirus, breaking the law and putting other citizens at risk.
While the overwhelming majority of people have socially isolated, often at great personal cost and under the threat of fines, governments and the police do nothing to keep social order while businesses and buildings are robbed, burned and trashed.
This was best illustrated by the sight of UK police submitting on bended knee to illegal and rowdy mobs of Black Lives Matter activists.
Like Alice in Wonderland, we have gone down the rabbit hole and long-held certainties and absolutes no longer apply.
Police are no longer authority figures entrusted to enforce the law and protect all citizens equally; instead they are complicit in politically correct virtue signalling and turning a blind eye to wanton illegality and vandalism.
In America, notwithstanding his faults, President Trump is attacked and condemned for daring to state the obvious – there is no room for senseless violence and destruction and the rule of law must prevail in order to protect the common good.
In Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was unjustly killed, Black Lives Matter demonstrators are calling for the police to be defunded on the supposed basis that all are racist and guilty of white supremacism. Ignored is that the police are the only ones safeguarding shops and businesses in African-American communities.
Also ignored is that in America the overwhelming incidence of violence and death inflicted on African-Americans is at the hands of other African-Americans . Heather Mac Donald in ‘The Myth of Systematic Police Racism’ published in the Wall Street Journal, an article which Kathy Gyngell blogged on recently, argues it is wrong to suggest American ‘law enforcement is endemically racist’.
Mac Donald writes: ‘A police officer is 18 and a half times more likely to be killed by a black man than an unarmed black man is to be killed by a police officer’. This point is also made: in 2018 African-Americans made up 53 per cent of known homicide offenders in the US and committed about 60 per cent of robberies, though they are 13 per cent of the population.
As to why mob hysteria, virtue signalling and cultural-Left group-think now prevail, look no further than the West’s education system. As a result of the late 60s cultural revolution, a rainbow alliance of neo-Marxist inspired critical theories dominate schools and universities.
Western civilisation, especially Christianity, is condemned as Eurocentric, exploitive and guilty of white supremacism. The ideal of a liberal education based on the search for truth, objectivity and rationality no longer exists as for years students have been told that knowledge is a social construct employed to enforce the hegemony of the ruling capitalist class.
In turn Western governments have capitulated to the politics of identity, exemplified not just in Canada under Pierre Trudeau but also in the UK where Theresa May’s commitment to burning injustices and race audits stoked rather than calmed the politics of resentment.
It is somewhat ironic therefore to find her former adviser Nick Timothy pointing out in the Telegraph (rightly so) that ‘the customs, norms and institutions that once brought us together are no longer venerated, but assaulted as bastions of oppression. And so the bonds between us are destroyed. In place of a cohesive society, with common habits, symbols and traditions, we are reduced to membership of fragmented groups defined by racial and gender identities that inevitably conflict with one another’.
This article first appeared in The Catholic Weekly on June 10, 2020, and is republished by kind permission.