Mitchell Bard has a wonderful article pointing to the one-sided approach US progressives have to concerns for Palestinians: Any perceived victimization by Israel is strongly deplored but they are silent when the source of the victimization is Arab religious or political leaders. He documents the deplorable mistreatment of Palestinians in Syrian refugee camps, women in religious households, and in LGBQT communities. Thus, Bard titled his article, “Many Progressives Care about ‘Palestine:’ Not the Palestinians.”
My own writings have documented progressive unwillingness to recognize the dramatic improvement in the economic and occupational situation of Arab citizens of Israel but instead highlight the ongoing conflict between the government and Bedouins over land use in the Negev. Arabs now comprise one-quarter of the students at the prestigious Technion and they go on to hi-tech employment, hundreds of Arab teachers have gained employment in Jewish primary and secondary schools, and the government has dramatically increased their funding of infrastructure in Arab towns including industrial parks. Yes, there are still barriers to Arab advancement but it is remarkable how effective government funding and affirmative action policies have been. Israeli critics, however, are silence on these achievements because they undermine their narrative of a racist, apartheid state.
Unfortunately, this same approach typifies progressive approaches to racial problems, most clearly in their one-sided attitude towards the murder of black Americans. According to FBI statistics, 7,039 black Americans were murdered in 2015, 52.3 percent of all homicides. Since then the numbers increased so that in 2017, 7,851 blacks were murdered, comprising 51.9 percent of all homicides.
Black Lives Matters, however, has little interest in responding to this appallingly high black homicide rate. Instead it focuses almost exclusively on police killings, particularly those of unarmed black Americans. Indeed, Ta-Nehisi Coates was widely applauded and richly rewarded for documenting some of these killings in his award-winning book, Between the World and Me; a work that became the foundation for claims that the police are enforcers of a white supremacist society.
Recently, the titular leader of the Black Lives Matter, Shaun King, did make an exception and highly publicized a non-police murder of a black American. In Houston, a seven-year old girl was killed in a drive-by shooting similar to a number of incidents annually. What distinguished this murder was that it initially appeared that the perpetrator was a white man. Upon hearing about this, King flew to Houston and immediately raised a $100,000 reward for information leading to the killer’s capture. He did receive such information that led to an arrest. Unfortunately for King, he was a black man whose gang was retaliating for a previous incident but shot at the wrong car.
When Coates wrote in 2015, of the 995 police killing, 259 (or 26.0 percent) were black Americans. Over the next years, total police killings were virtually unchanged but the number of black Americans killed declined, falling to 21 percent by 2018. In 2015, there were 38 unarmed black Americans killed by police. In subsequent years, the number of unarmed blacks killed by police has fallen dramatically; only 21 in 2017 and 17 in 2018. And yet Black Lives Matters and their supporters continue to focus on these increasingly isolated incidents.
The core of the problem is that progressives have decided that one cannot criticize victimized groups. Once Palestinians were designated the victimized group, progressives remained silent when they were victimized by other Palestinians. Similarly, if black men are considered a victimized group, progressives must remain silent even when some victimize members of the black community through their violent behavior.
Similar to the Palestinian situation, black men also disproportionately victimize member of the LBGQT community. The deplorable situations faced in the black community have recently come to the fore. Lee Daniels, whose real-life experiences with his father inspired the relationship on the show, has said he wanted Empire to “blow the lid” off of the “rampant” homophobia in the black community. In virtually all categories, black Americans are disproportionally represented among known hate-crime perpetrators, but especially in attacks on the LBGQT community. In 2016, there were 335 and 314 white and black perpetrators, respectively, of hate crimes against gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals. And yet the homophobic rantings of Louis Farrakhan and the Black Israelites has been trivialized while the anti-gay comments by a number of black celebrities, including Joy Reid, are deemed inconsequential.
These examples make clear that we should focus on aiding victimized individuals not victimized groups. Only then can we find effective policies to counter the harmful situation too many individuals continue to experience.