Black Lives Matter UK should be ashamed of their childish behaviour and wanton ‘cultural appropriation’ of an American struggle
I had a friend at Cambridge who – like many students – loved nothing more than a good protest. The reason behind any given demonstration and the people involved in it were largely immaterial to him; what mattered was the marching along and shouting and getting to feel brave and revolutionary while enjoying the added bonus of missing lectures.
On one occasion (quite possibly because I was high at the time of asking) he convinced me to accompany him on one of these jaunts, and so one morning we set off on a coach down the M11 and piled off in central London, collected placards and went to join the fray. Honestly, I forget what the protest was actually about – it may have been something to do with poverty, but it was certainly domestically focused. So I was rather surprised when my friend decided that we should merge with a particularly unwashed group of protesters and start shouting “victory to the intifada!”
At the time, the Second Intifada was warming up quite aggressively. As a young student, while having every sympathy with the plight of ordinary Palestinians, I tended to take the side of Israel, supporting a fellow democracy while reserving the right to criticise their excesses and missteps – pretty much the same position as I hold now, in fact. And since I had no desire to stomp around London cheering for the suicide bombing of innocent Israelis, I took leave of my friend and went to sojourn on the south bank instead – but not before making the observation that nearly everyone around me at the march was white, upper middle class (though some affected other carefully crafted personas) and about as far removed from being personally vested in the Israel-Palestine conflict as it was possible to be.
Why bring this up? Because the same tiresome event is now playing out all over again with the childish, irresponsible and petulant antics of Black Lives Matter UK, whose members give dreary new meaning to the term “a rebel without a cause”.
From the Telegraph:
London City Airport was brought to a standstill today after a group of Black Lives Matter activists stormed the runway protesting against the UK’s ‘racist climate crisis’.
Police said nine protestors [sic] chained themselves to a tripod in the middle of a runway to ‘highlight the UK’s environmental impact on the lives of black people’.
The demonstration, which began at 5.40am and lasted around five hours, meant dozens of flights were cancelled while incoming planes were diverted to Gatwick and Southend airports.
The incident triggered safety concerns amid reports the demonstrators bypassed security by sailing a blow-up dingy [sic] across the Royal Docks.
Police arrived at the airport minutes after the demonstration began but it was several hours before any arrests were made. Scotland Yard said they had to wait for ‘specialist resources’ needed to unlock the protestors [sic].
“This is a crisis” reads the banner unfurled by Black Lives Matter UK at their edgy airport disruption attempts. And so it is. But in Britain it is certainly not a crisis of black killings by the police. It is a crisis of intellect, of character and of proportionality, all of which have been thrown out of the window by a bunch of primarily millennial young adults who look at the impassioned protests currently taking place in the United States and developed a severe, gnawing case of FOMO (fear of missing out).
This most coddled and privileged generation in history (particularly the middle class types who showed up to London City airport) cannot plausibly claim that black people in Britain are being frequently and systematically killed by the police, which is the genesis of the original Black Lives Matter movement in America. Most British police are unarmed for a start, and while there has been an historic problem with institutional racism and there remain isolated concerns, the problem is simply not as severe on this side of the Atlantic.
So what is an enthusiastic young protester to do? They can’t go to the trouble of invading an airport runway for a cause which barely registers as a problem in this country (though in terms of avoiding looking ridiculous, BLM UK may well have done marginally better to frame their protest as a “sympathy strike” to highlight the “plight” of black Americans). They need to find some reason for their theatrics.
And thus we get the rather bizarre statement that airports are fair game for Black Lives Matter UK because environmental pollution apparently disproportionally affects black people to such an extent that it constitutes an act of racism. That is seriously what this protest is about.
From BLM UK’s own Twitter account:
This is competitive victimhood at its most extreme. To call the claim that environmental pollution is a deliberate act of oppression aimed at black people “a bit exaggerated” does a disservice to a whole pantheon of overstatements, contortions and implausible stretches. The argument is simply ludicrous, a complete non sequitur.
And for those of us implacably opposed to the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics, the emergence of Black Lives Matter UK as a risible and unjustified presence on the British political scene has also provoked the delicious accusation by other SJWs that BLM UK’s white, middle-class eco-warriors are “culturally appropriating” a movement which is primarily about the treatment of African Americans by the police in the United States.
From the Huffington Post (naturally):
Black Lives Matter demonstrators have been accused of “appropriating someone else’s struggle” for their “embarrassing” protest at London’s City Airport today that affected thousands of passengers.
However, the response to the action has been largely negative, with people criticising its relevance, disputing claims the action would only impact the wealthy, and questioning why the group did not appear to have any black members at the protest.
One person described the protesters as “hipster-looking flower-crowners”.
[..] Joanne Marie was annoyed by claims that the action would only affect the well off.
She wrote: “I earn under £30k and I live in Newham. I use City Airport several times a year to fly home to Ireland to visit my sick and elderly parents. I pay around £100 return – slightly more than it costs to fly from Stansted on Ryanair. Should I not visit my parents to placate a bunch of self-righteous white people with placards who think they represent the BME community?
And that’s one of the inherent flaws in the whole social justice / politically correct movement. Because the “social currency” within this tribe of people is intimately connected with how much one is able to play the victim card and speak from a position of being “oppressed”, competitive victimhood is rife. In order to feel good about themselves, cult members must continually assert their own vulnerability at the hands of those with more “privilege”, while showing very public solidarity and deference to those higher in the hierarchy of oppression.
Thus we have seen young social justice warriors in Britain try to take down even progressive champions like Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell for daring to stand up for the free speech of those who question the new orthodoxy on transgender theory.
Peter Tatchell – a tireless warrior against discrimination in all its forms – found himself in the crosshairs of some jumped-up young student union activist who saw the opportunity to aggrandise herself by publicly accusing him of heresy. Why? Because Fran Cowling, LGBT+ Officer of the National Union of Students, saw the opportunity to burnish her own Tolerance Credentials by shrieking that Peter Tatchell holds such intolerable and dangerous views that she could not possibly share a stage with him. Her goal: to make her peers think “Wow! Fran Cowling is so pure and virtuous that even Peter Tatchell, with all his many accomplishments, looks like dirt next to her”.
This kind of thing happens all the time. Just as perverse incentives lead politicians to over-promise and bankers to take undue risks, in the social justice community – already a demographic teeming with many of the most insufferable people in the country – the fact that victimhood equals social status is encouraging people to exalt in their vulnerability, exaggerate it wherever possible and see everything through the distorted lens of race, gender and sexuality.
And that is how, in a sick culture full of people who are encouraged to make exaggerated claims of victimhood – together their sanctimonious “allies” – it came to pass that London City Airport was shut down this week because of the past actions of allegedly trigger-happy cops in America.
Globalisation no longer simply means that the components in your iPhone come from all over the world – going forward we can expect to be picketed, lobbied, harassed, delayed and otherwise inconvenienced thanks to disputes which originated thousands of miles away in other countries – especially if those disputes have their roots in the toxic sludge of identity politics.
Welcome to the future.
Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:
Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.