I found an article written by an intersectional feminist that explains the author’s, and presumably other intersectional feminist’s, reasoning for why they are supporters of #BlackLivesMatter instead of #AllLivesMatter, then tied it to the difference between humanism and feminism and why they think people should be feminists and not humanists.
The article begins with the following fictional dialogue between a humanist and a feminist, which the feminist begins:
This is a beautifully clear way of not only laying out her argument but demonstrating why it is wrong. Most intersectional feminists usually make liberal use of unnecessary language in what I will assume is not a deliberate attempt to obfuscate their meaning.
“#BlackLivesMatter” is a statement of support for a specific social movement, to which the reply “wait, don’t all lives matter?” is a query about principle. The reply #AllLivesMatter is not support for a social movement but a public statement of principle in response to the perceived usage of “#BlackLivesMatter” as a statement of principle and not a social movement. They’re misconstruing the name as a declaration, which it was to start with, before it coalesced into a coherent movement.
The humanist then replies with a statement of principle of their own: “then #AllLivesMatter”, to which the feminist replies with “nope”. This becomes a categoric denial of the humanist position that all lives have value, which is what is being said when someone says “all lives matter”, the very framing of the article is a conversation between two individuals who are not talking about the same subject.
We then come to the conclusion of this hypothetical:
Of course, this is the author’s position and she does not believe that only black lives matter in principle, but as we established, we are not discussing principle, we are discussing a social movement, and this person then gives us the rationale for why this social movement needs to exist: black people are “not included” in the principle of all lives matter due to “ingrained institutional racism” that didn’t end with slavery because “it’s just not that easy”.
The key word here is ‘institutional’. First, this introduces a temporal context to the explanation, demonstrating that, if the context was different, the speaker wouldn’t support #BlackLivesMatter as a movement or a principle.
As this is a dialogue between two individuals, neither one represents any organisations, and it appears to a humanist that it is a discussion about a principle which exists independent of context. Suddenly bringing ‘institutional racism’ into the conversation – an incidentally tautological phrase as the author’s use of racism is defined as institutional oppression – is not relevant from the perspective of the humanist because they are not discussing events, they are discussing ideas.
The absurdity of the author’s argument is not even relevant to the hypothetical feminist’s non-sequitur response. It’s almost impossible to believe that the author believes that black people are literally excluded from being considered as human beings with lives that have value to the American system because it is so thoroughly racist against them 150 years since the abolition of slavery, just because “its just not that easy to get rid of racism”.
There would at least not be an immediate and obvious refutation of systemic racism in the United States if the current two-term president wasn’t black.
After this intellectual debacle, the author decides to discuss humanism.
This is a perfectly adequate short definition of humanism but we can look to the The British Humanists Association for an expanded definition:
They also include several definitions from other sources, such as this one from the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
These definitions do not refute the definition given by our author, but expand upon it to include a specific facet of humanism that intersectional feminists seem to want to overlook: reason.
To claim that the lives of black people are not considered to have value in the United States does not stand up to scrutiny. The best place to look would be in the very reason #BlackLivesMatter began: perceived police brutality disproportionately targeting black people.
A Washington Post investigation into police shootings for 2015 reveals the following information:
Out of 990 people shot dead by police, 783 of them carried a deadly weapon and only 93 were unarmed. These statistics are of course grim, but a lot less alarming than one might originally think. It is not unreasonable to presume that the police in question who killed armed perpetrators did fear for their lives.
Half of the people murdered were white and 26% were black. Black people comprise approximately 13% of the US population, so black people are killed by American police at twice the rate one would expect to see, but is this the result of racism?
The answer is: probably not. It’s much more likely to be the result of black people committing a disproportionate amount of crime. The most recent statistics I could find on offenders comes from the Department of Justice 2012-2013 report.
The rates of violent crime committed by black people are also disproportionate. 13% of the population is committing 22% of the violent crime. This is nearly the same percent as the number of black people shot and killed by the police during attempted arrests for committing a violent crime.
Is the black community more heavily policed than white communities? Probably, and with good reason. Are there police officers who are racist? Without a doubt. Does this translate into a systemic oppression and devaluation of black people by the police force, disproportionate to the number of crimes they commit? Not according to the data.
So why is this happening? Well, there are doubtless many causative factors, but let’s examine a major one.
In the US, 33% of children are raised in a household without their father. In black households, this number rises to an alarming 57%. There is simply no doubt about the effect that a missing father will have on a child. Numerous studies have shown that a fatherless family has a severely deleterious effect on a child’s emotional wellbeing, future career prospects and a family’s financial stability.
As Linda Chavez, the former head of the US Civil Rights Commission, says:
Put simply, all children need their fathers to be actively involved in their upbringing. Without a father, the child does not start on a level playing field against children who are in a stable household.
We don’t need to resort to the boogeyman of institutional racial oppression or pseudoscientific racial conjecture to explain why black people are committing more violent crime, and therefore being killed disproportionately by police. It’s a simplistic answer that presupposes that we can establish the motives in each case for every individual officer by looking at the data instead of interviewing the man, which is of course, absurd.
In 2003, the National Centre for Policy Analysis released a study called How Not to be Poor. They determined that if people made three distinct choices in their lives, it would dramatically affect the chances of them living in poverty or not. These choices were:
I’m sure you’ve already noticed that these are the three cardinal social sins of the black community and why it remains in poverty. Most black people are not married, children are born out of wedlock and they are nine-times more likely to drop out of school.
What other result would one expect to see other than increased violent crime rates and severe poverty in black communities? How could we expect a different result if we do, indeed, consider black people to just be regular folks like the rest of us?
And consider the culture that has rushed in to fill the void left by the dearth of strong male figures in the lives of young men. There are many black bloggers who completely understand that such a hostile culture is eminently negative for the people who indulge in it.
Ironically, it becomes obvious to any who look that thug culture is a byproduct of deep insecurity. Self-confident, self-actualised, upwardly-mobile people do not act in such an aggressive way. I would personally expect a community that lacks fathers but not sons to produce a hypermasculine, hyperviolent, territorial and crime-ridden culture of power and opulence designed to demonstrate individual prowess for their own emotional security. It isn’t conducive to producing well-educated, successful children, but why would it be?
And don’t get me wrong, I do not think that the return of fathers to black households would be a panacea for all the problems of the black community, but we can be certain it is the cause of many of them. By tackling the issues one step at a time we slowly climb the mountain.
I know I have gone into apparently unnecessary depth on this, but it’s important to understand if we go back to our author’s dialogue:
We can see that she has vastly oversimplified the problem to “institutional racism”. She doesn’t consider the agency of black people to be a factor in their own social problems, it is taken for granted that the results of the system must demonstrate the intent of the system despite the fact that people make choices every day that affect their involvement within the system. It is not a monolithic, totalitarian machine that allows no room to maneuver, but a complex web of individuals making decisions of their own.
It isn’t perfect and there are doubtless people within this system who do hold racist beliefs, but since the system is capable of selecting for itself a black man to hold the highest office in the land, to call it a racist system is simply not true. It must be other factors that lead to the poverty and crime trap in which black communities have found themselves.
Our author has decided to abandon reason to join a cause they find emotionally gratifying and have simplified or outright ignored the evidence to come to a contradictory conclusion fit for idiots: a system headed by a black president is institutionally racist.
This is one of the fundamental differences between intersectional feminists and humanists. Intersectional feminists are simply not concerned with reason, if anything, it is a barrier to them achieving their emotional gratification of fighting for “the oppressed” against the “oppressor”.
To return to the article:
And they do. There are no laws that institutionalise discrimination against black people. There are, in fact, almost 30 anti-discrimination laws.
Racism certainly is ingrained in many people in society, most publicly with prominent #BlackLivesMatter activists who seem to have decided that it’s alright when they do it. However, to a humanist, it is not alright when anyone does it because opposition to racism is a point of principle that is not modified by context.
Humanism is a fundamental belief in the value and power of human agency. If you say humanism isn’t working for black people, then you are saying black people do not have agency equivalent to white people, which appears to be the platform by which white progressives are proselytizing to black people, in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to instill within them learned helplessness.
Again I must refer you back to your own president as a concrete refutation of this point. Black people do have agency and they can exercise it, the problem is that they tend to exercise it in ways that are self-destructive and trap them in a cycle of poverty and violence.
The first step to a solution is education on these issues, not to pretend black people have the mental capacity of children and are incapable of making informed decisions as a power grab for those looking for a way to pay off the student debts of their social justice degrees.
Our author then continues to build on her ridiculous premise:
Nobody thinks “everyone” refers only to white people. This is a strawman derived directly from the sophistry involved in fallaciously establishing that everyone is racist and black people cannot do anything for themselves.
This is incorrect. Saying “all lives matter” is a declaration of intent, a statement of principle, a goal to be achieved. It is not a description of the current state of affairs. They are actively promoting a vision of the world they would like to see, and intersectional feminists and racist #BlackLivesMatter activists are promoting the opposite.
Of course they do. They perceive that you are declaring that only black lives matter, because that appears to be your statement of principle, why wouldn’t they respond with “no, all lives matter”? When they say “all lives matter” they are also including black people in this statement, despite our author’s attempt at convincing us she can read the hearts and minds of others. If they say “all lives matter” there is no reason to think they do not think black people are included in this statement.
If #BlackLivesMatter was simply a declaration of principle, then nobody would have an issue with it. The problem is that it has become a social movement for really awful people. People who do not wish to accept responsibility for their own actions, people who don’t understand causality, international black-supremacist communists and intersectional racists.
He’s absolutely right, the confusion is over what the problem is and how to address it. I’ve given the starting point of a logical, sensible, fact-driven solution that is designed to empower black people by relying on their agency to enable them to make good choices to pull themselves out of poverty using a system calibrated to achieve these ends.
The end product of this would be happier, healthier black communities, full of prosperous people with high self-esteem and community cohesion.
However, the #BlackLivesMatter solution is that because the system isn’t working for a small minority of people, the entire system must be uprooted and destroyed and replaced with something unspecified, but apparently “better”. Frankly, it’s not a risk I’m willing to take.
And these are perfectly cogent arguments feminists still have no answer for. Feminism has demonstrated itself to not only be pathologically opposed to masculinity but primarily derives the problems of the world from this concept. Again, this is a worldview for idiots, nothing is this simple, in the same way that black supremacists blame white people, white nationalists blame Jews or David Icke blames lizard aliens.
We wish the problems came from one source. As I said about fathers in the black community, it’s one aspect of the problem but one that is within the power of black people to solve, they just have to start by changing their own minds.
Of course, the author does not give any examples of issues faced only by women that humanism does not or could not address, and just demonstrates their own bigotry. We focus on sexual assault, regardless of the gender of the victim because the important aspect of the issue is not that the victim was a woman or a man but that they are a victim.
The author’s sexism is on full display. Sexual assault is not a gendered issue, it happens to men and women, boys and girls of all ages. The same is true with domestic violence. However, the reason intersectional feminists so readily identify with #BlackLivesMatter is because they are built on the same basic premises adopted from Marxist schools of thought.
Demographic A is being oppressed by demographic B, therefore demographic A has a right to hate their oppressor and monopolise any resources or space concerning an issue despite the fact that the issues under which demographic A is claiming oppression also happen to demographic B.
This decision to reduce all individuals in a demographic to a “class” and then apply Marxist axioms to interpret these results is a reductive misrepresentation of reality. You cannot declare that there is a problem with sexual assault or domestic violence against women caused by men when men also receive assault or abuse from women. It is not a “class” issue because men and women are not separate classes with distinct rules and behaviours that govern each with no overlap. To suggest this is the case is to fail to model reality accurately in your hypotheses.
Our author makes a distinction of which we should be palpably aware: humanism is failing as a social movement. Humanist societies are naval-gazing after the defeat of Christian fundamentalist social movements, idling in their victory lap and quoting Hitchens’ as he demolished Christian apologist arguments when they should be looking at the modern challenges for humanism, such as intersectional Marxist ideologies, black and white supremacist movements and militant Islamism.
Can anyone tell me that there is a single one of these values that isn’t under direct attack in Western society? The forces arrayed against humanist values are widespread and disorganised, which is why they have not yet won the ideological war. They are too wrapped up in their own solipsism to gather en-mass and so chip away at each individual pillar of Western civilisation independently of the rest.
Feminism is a much more powerful movement than humanism because the humanists simply are not paying attention. There is little about feminism that is accurate or honest, however there is nothing about humanism that cannot solve the problems the West is currently facing. Humanists need to wake up and understand that their values are under attack and now is the time to fight for them, while they are still understood by the general public to be the best system of values.
Humanism is the ideology we need right now and we need humanists to stand up and be counted. We need humanist organisations to put their people in the public eye to debate on behalf of these values, we need them to actually make a damn difference because the West is rapidly turning into a society that is forgetting the power and universal benefit of humanism, it has lost confidence in why we became humanists in the first place.