Despite the public discourse, Michael McCormack’s recent comments — in which he likened Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests to the Capitol Hill riots — were not unwarranted.
It’s one of the latest instances in a dangerous culture emerging in Australia, where we subject someone to trial by media because they’ve spoken outside the country’s pseudo collective consciousness.
I support black lives but condemn both the BLM movement and riots at Capitol Hill. It would be hypocritical not to because it means you are accepting violence as a political means, and no “holier than thou” rhetoric can avoid that.
This argument is not about whether one supports black rights, it’s about denouncing rabid political acts. And after rightly doing so, McCormack, then acting PM, was wrongly vilified as a racist by mainstream media which has turned this into a debate on identity politics.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Condoning the BLM movement underscores the violence truly associated with it. Last year, chaos erupted in 2000 cities and towns across the world, leading to up to $2 billion in insured damages in the United States and $500 million in property damage in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul twin cities alone. This is not okay. If we were to accept this, it means we accept violence as a political method.
One of the common defences of this is the line that 93% of BLM protests were peaceful. However, this number is derived from over 10,000 protests, meaning more than 500 were violent — a number way too big.
The counterargument is understandable: by condemning the BLM movement you’re disregarding what it represents. Superficially speaking, this is a fair statement.
However, it becomes unfounded when one digs a little deeper and sees BLM is much more than just a race riot sparked by the death of George Floyd.
The movement formed following a 2013 acquittal of a neighbourhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who killed African-American Trayvon Martin. At surface level, their motives may appear justified but the group was founded by confessed Marxists who seek to radicalise with their ideology. After recently losing public support and donors, they erased these views from their website.
It’s these ultra-leftist elements that attract fellow extremist from this side of politics; the most notable being Antifa — an anti-racist movement with a history of stoking violence. Functioning as a nursery for the radical-left, no wonder BLM protests have been associated with violence, anarchy and looting for the past several years.
Considering this, it would be unfair to expect someone to endorse this movement. It’s a highly complicated issue left-wing commentators have oversimplified into a question of “whether you’re racist or not” — worryingly, this allows dangerous ideologues to fester behind a veil of righteousness. Like a lot of people, I support black rights emphatically but not the other components affiliated with the BLM movement.
Many commentators have said the difference is the Capitol Hill riots were an attempt at a coup, but after close examination, it becomes difficult to classify it as such. These imbeciles looked like they were heading home from a cosplay convention and got lost.
They were clearly surprised to get as far as they did and had no actual plans of seizing power — what revolutionaries stop to take selfies? It’s convenient for the left to embellish the sophistication of what took place at Capitol Hill because it white-ants the politics of their opponents.
It’s important the right questions the cultural pressure to deplore the Capitol Hill riots while excusing BLM. That said, they mustn’t lose sight and become apologists for right-wing extremists. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and far too many right-wing commentators have adopted the position “why can they get away with it and not us?”
The right must be resolute in their condemnation of the Capitol Hill riots. Because make no mistake, many of the people who stormed Capitol Hill are malevolent white-supremacists. Anarchy would break loose if these people were to become more organised and build on each other’s fanaticism, not to mention if they met their ideological foes. And right-wing apologists cannot let this become a symptom of the Capitol Hill riots.
Now, let’s directly compare the BLM protests and Capitol Hill. Both involved riots, one protested the legitimacy of the democratic process, the other the legitimacy of law and order. One was born out of the far-right, the other the far-left. One went for months and spread across 60 countries, causing unprecedented destruction; the other took hours and did not tear down cities.
Both used violence. Both should be condemned.
Thomas Bee is a journalism graduate who ended up working in corporate affairs. He picks freelance writing jobs as a side-hustle and hopes to continue to pursue his passion for commentating on politics.