Black Lives Matter in London: The civil rights group protests the deaths of black people at the hands of law enforcement, as well as broader issues of racial profiling and harassment (MOB68 CC BY-SA 2.0)
It was on Friday August 4 that the UK branch of Black Lives Matter (BLM), the American civil rights movement turned political juggernaut, made its presence felt in Britain. The group, with its banners, chants and headbands, obstructed traffic in Nottingham and Birmingham and on the way into Heathrow during rush-hour in “Project Shutdown” — an “ideological and political intervention in a world where black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise”.
For the most part, the reaction of holidaymakers, commuters and others who found their journeys delayed was: “Eh?” Their incredulity eventually turned to bemused politeness. They waited patiently while police removed the protesters.
For the British onlooker, ignorant of precisely what BLM represents, the whole scene was Pythonesque, a harmless distraction caused by well-meaning, if deluded, activists. For the activists, this was a successful operation. But why target commuters rather than police stations? The answer lies in the core political ideology espoused by the group: one of Marxist origins, nurtured by leftist academics on American campuses and fed by America’s racist past and tense contemporary political climate.
Part of a wider political movement involving young people throughout the West, BLM’s activists are so convinced of their righteousness that they often become quasi-religious in their activism.
The key concept of this secular religion is “intersectionality”: a theory born out of feminism, obsessed with categories based on race, class, religion, sexuality and appearance, assigning them “victim” or “privilege” points. So the target is not in fact the police, or even police brutality — it is society itself. Those British commuters had to pay the price of privilege: they owned cars.
If any of this sounds ridiculous, consider the political demands recently laid out by BLM in America: redistribution of wealth based on race and huge reparations for slavery, with the money being divvied up depending on how “victimised” a group has been — though there has already been infighting between rival victim groups. BLM also wants police to be removed from black neighbourhoods and a new education system established, with the movement’s tenets force-fed to children.
Intersectionality devalues personal agency. If non-whites are rejected by society, why should they struggle to succeed? Only collective success counts; individual success is downplayed. Intersectionality identifies real problems of inequality or injustice, yet its only answer is to attack the “privileged” and redistribute their money.
This is an old argument, yet it would be a mistake to underestimate BLM. Its leader in the UK is an Oxford student, Adam Elliot-Cooper, and the protests are backed by the first Muslim President of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia, already notorious for her hostility to Israel and refusal to condemn ISIS. The devotees of intersectionality are most numerous and strongest in universities — and they are our future.