To the editor:
(re: “Message is simply anti-racist,” “Embracing more concrete reality,” July 16)
Norman Wechsler and Peter Wolf each posits that the Black Lives Matter movement should be defined by its “peaceful” protests, not by the violence that has erupted in some of the protests. I take issue, however, with the use of the word “peaceful” to describe protests involving large gatherings of people, even those that have not resulted in physical attacks on police officers, wanton destruction of property, and the like.
For months, we have been conditioned by our authorities with the concept that the first line of defense against COVID-19 spread is social distancing, and that mingling with other people potentially endangers not only us and others in close proximity, but also society at large, as a result of the multiplier effects of the virus spread.
In fact, even though we are in Phase IV of New York state’s economic reopening, only social gatherings of no more than 50 people — the previous limits being 10 and 25 — are officially allowed by executive order, with no exceptions for outdoor gatherings, mask-wearers, or youngsters.
The correlation between the timing of the nationwide protests — many of which involve hundreds or thousands of people standing close together, and the nationwide surge in COVID-19 infections, suggests causation, even if there are other causes for the surge.
By unofficially exempting the protesters from the social distancing rules, our elected officials and purported public health experts are conveying the message that these rules really are not as crucial as previously represented, and thus undermining their own credibility.
All this contributes to a general attitude that results in increased flouting of social distancing rules by those involved in non-protest activities, leading to further spread.
The authorities’ ostensible rationale for blessing the protests is that protesting is a moral imperative overriding everything else, even the pandemic.
But are the goals of the protests really so morally unassailable?
Mr. Wolf describes the movement as “a broad-based, heterogeneous decentralized movement of people concerned about racism in this country,” similar to the 1960s civil rights movement. However, the most influential voices emerging from the Black Lives Matter movement appear to be those calling for not only ending police brutality, but for "defunding," if not eliminating the police. As well as voices calling for not just eliminating "systemic racism," but destroying the system altogether, a philosophy manifesting itself in "cancel culture"-based violence, like destroying statues and governmental buildings.
Politicians are kowtowing to the protest movement by emasculating the police and emboldening violent criminals, resulting in skyrocketing violent crime rates in major cities throughout the country, including New York.
There may be many “peaceful” protesters genuinely concerned about racism, but I would submit that there are radical, anarchic, violent and racially polarizing elements prominently permeating the Black Lives Matter movement that render the protests far from being a moral slam dunk such as to justify epidemiologically inappropriate mass gatherings.