Way before “check your privilege”, we had “check your premises.” The phrase is commonly attributed to Ayn Rand and her novel Atlas Shrugged, which tells us that “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”
It was useful advice sixty years ago, but it is essential advice in an age where the Seven Deadly Sins have been replaced with the Two Deadly-To-Your-Career Sins of “ism” and hypocrisy. We are absolutely obsessed with hypocrisy nowadays. Neal Stephenson offers a thought-provoking reason for that obsession in his novel The Diamond Age: “It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticize others–after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?” I would also suggest that modern Americans find hypocrisy comforting, because it relieves our consciences. Why shouldn’t we indulge in the worst perversions possible and permit ourselves every selfish excess? Those priests and pastors and politicians are even worse! Newt Gingrich divorced his wife, so why should we listen to his opinions about abortion? You get the idea.
Today’s political pundits just adore finding hypocrisy in the actions of their opponents. Mark Zuckerberg says we should have open borders, but he has a ten foot wall around his mansion! Donald Trump says we need to restrict immigration, but his wife was admitted under a special program! While there are plenty of actual cases where people are absolute filthy hypocrites, in many cases we can resolve or dissolve the so-called hypocrisy by checking our premises. Here’s an example: It’s often noted that “pro-life” people are often in favor of capital punishment, while “pro-choice” people are often against it. Aren’t they both hypocrites? Probably not. Pro-life people believe that a fetus is a child, and a child is innocent. On the other hand, a murderer is not innocent, and therefore he can be put to death. On the other side of the matter, pro-choice people often believe that a fetus is “just tissue”, while a murderer on Death Row is a fully-formed human being who deserves humane treatment. There is no contradiction in either of those stances. The perceived hypocrisy is a product of deliberately misunderstanding the other side’s ideas.
There’s quite a bit of discussion among the alt-right about the perceived hypocrisy or stupidity of the Black Lives Matter movement. This meme sums it up: BLM supposedly thinks all police are racist and evil — but they also think that only police should be allowed to have guns! Now that is some serious hypocrisy — enough that I decided to take a closer look at what the BLM position on gun control really is. Turns out that things are not nearly that simple.
You can’t talk about gun control without talking about racism. Slaves were prohibited from owning guns; later on, the “Black Codes” disarmed African-American citizens. In 1938, Nazi Germany simultaneously liberalized gun-control law for ethnic Germans while severely restricting the rights of Jews to own guns. The group Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership has documented the fact that the 1938 Nazi Weapons Control Act was used as a template for the 1968 Gun Control Act by Senator Thomas Dodd, the bill’s author and primary supporter. Modern history is filled with examples of gun control being used as a policy tool against minorities, political opposition, and urban unrest.
At the same time, the relationship between the African-American community and privately-owned firearms has also been complex. The Black Panthers, seen at the top of this article, believed in arming African-Americans in the fight for civil rights, as did Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. On the other side of the debate, Black lawmakers and politicians have often been at the forefront of gun-control measures. It is probably no accident that the most restrictive firearms laws in America were passed in cities with a large Black presence — and often by Black Democrats.
Black Lives Matter is not a monolithic organization. In fact, a federal judge has ruled that BLM and its senior people cannot be held liable for the actions of its members. That hasn’t stopped them from accepting millions of dollars in funding. Even the left-wing wife-swappers at Snopes have to admit that George Soros has put a lot of money towards BLM-affiliated groups. Still, there’s no such thing as a “BLM manifesto”…
…until recently, when four of the movement’s leaders created Campaign Zero as a funding clearinghouse and political action group. Campaign Zero has a comprehensively conceived and thoroughly documented platform that includes everything from “limit fines for low-income people” to “make the police pay civil judgments out of their own budgets”. It’s such a massive laundry list that I was more than slightly surprised to see what is not in there: civilian gun control in any way, shape of form. The platform calls for police gun control and for the demilitarization of police, but restricting privately-held weapons is nowhere to be found.
One of Campaign Zero’s founders has responded to calls for BLM to endorse gun control by reiterating BLM’s single purpose of preventing police violence.
“Campaign Zero is a campaign focused on a particular issue: ending police violence in America,” said Sinyangwe. “We don’t ask folks who are fighting for the right to an abortion to also focus on fair wages for women.”
“I would encourage folks who have more insight into the potential racial impact of gun control legislation to present that research to the movement so we can have a more nuanced debate,” Sinyangwe continued.
In other words: we aren’t going to disarm until the police do.
This nimble response from Campaign Zero effectively destroys the perceived hypocrisy of Black Lives Matter with regards to police and gun control. It’s easy to point out in response that there are many, many people on the progressive left who simultaneously support BLM and gun confiscation/control, but when we do that we are slippery-sloping away from the original assertion. The fact of the matter is that the average American citizen believes in a wide variety of contradictory policies regardless of his political affiliation. Very few of us are exempt from at least a little bit of that. It’s not always hypocrisy. Often it’s a simple matter of letting our feelings determine our politics.
So we’ve checked our premises, as Miss Rand would say, and we have found one of them to be incorrect. Black Lives Matter does not support gun control as part of its platform or its agenda. There is no hypocrisy, no contradiction between their desire to reduce police violence and their desire to disarm Black people — because they have not stated a desire to disarm Black people. Plain and simple. I’m not saying that BLM is right, or that their platform is intellectually coherent. I’m just saying that it’s not hypocritical in the above regard.
Unfortunately, we can’t just leave it there, because the Campaign Zero platform doesn’t necessarily stand alone. The people who have funded Campaign Zero fund other things. In fact, a Buzzfeed article suggests that the main funding source behind Campaign Zero is the Open Society Foundation, which has been charged with distributing over $18 billion-with-a-B-dollars given to it by George Soros. Mr. Soros also funds gun control. Either Soros is a hypocrite, or he’s an idiot, or there is a connection that is not immediately apparent.
Turns out the connection is hidden in plain sight. The Campaign Zero platform calls for drastically increased federal oversight and control of local policing. It also calls for a significant lowering of the bar for Department of Justice involvement in local policing. It stops short of calling for a federalized police force, but only in the sense that it would continue to permit local police to run their own budgets — until, of course, they are bankrupted by civil action, at which time the feds would have to step in.
George Soros is also interested in federal oversight of police. A leaked memo from the Open Society people appears to suggest that a “national movement” should take place to implement federally-provided guidelines for local police. I don’t think the memo calls for federal police, despite what Breitbart thinks. I do think it calls for federal oversight to a degree that local autonomy would be effectively eradicated.
Now we see how everything dovetails. Campaign Zero calls for strong federal involvement in policing, which is an explicit desire of Mr. Soros. The desired final state is a disarmed citizenry and a federally-managed police force. From the Campaign Zero perspective, that federal management allows strict enforcement of race-related guidelines. From the Soros perspective, a federally managed police force is immune to the rebellious actions of a David Clarke or Joe Arpaio. It will do what it is told, particularly in the event of civil unrest.
Why would you want total gun control and total Federal police control? It depends on whether you are watching the Blue or the Red movie. The Blue movie says that a disarmed population with Federal police oversight would be safer, free from racism, and free from police abuse. The Red movie says that a disarmed population would be stomped into the ground by the boot of a federally guided police force. Nothing I can write on this website would convince you to change whichever one of these movies makes sense to you.
I will say this, however: In the end, it all comes down to capital and labor. If you’re on the side of capital, you should probably get on board with the Soros agenda, because your interests will be protected. If you are on the side of labor, then you should strongly consider whether or not you support a combination of events that would allow you to be effortlessly dispossessed the minute another person or group is willing to do your job for less. Doesn’t that suggest that the Democrats should be fighting against gun control and the Republicans should be supporting it? Doesn’t the whole thing seem thoroughly contradictory? I should probably do some checking of my premises — but that will have to wait until another day.