One Cheer for #BlackLivesMatter

The great reactionary French philosopher Joseph de Maistre once observed, “all greatness, all power, all subordination rests on the executioner; he is both the horror and bond of human association. Remove this incomprehensible agent from the world, and in a moment order gives way to chaos, thrones fall, and society disappears.”

In opposition to this terrifying, but essential figure, Maistre placed the soldier: “As far as soldiers are concerned, there are never enough of them, because they kill without restraint and their victims are always honest men. Of these two professional killers, the soldier and the executioner, one is highly honored and always has been by all the nations who have inhabited up to now this planet to which you have come; but the other has just as generally been regarded as vile. Try to guess on which the obloquy falls.”

After Wednesday night’s second Democratic presidential primary debate, we do not need to ponder Maistre’s hypothetical. We know on whom the obloquy falls, as we have seen it fall in real time, while the horror and bond of California, Kamala Harris, was verbally killed without restraint by the soldier and four-term U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

There was only one problem: unlike the victims of other soldiers, whom Maistre labeled as honest men, Harris is quite the opposite. Indeed, calling her an “incomprehensible agent” is only accurate insofar as her actions as attorney general of California were incomprehensible in their sheer, sociopathic disgrace.

Like another sociopath exposed to sunlight by an inconvenient truth teller she was never supposed to face, Harris has fallen back on labeling Gabbard an agent of Russia/Syria/everyone polling below her, hoping that one of those epithets sticks enough to make people disregard the four-alarm fire Gabbard raised onstage.

Someone please tell the junior senator from California that slandering and libeling a veteran is bad business. Especially considering that Gabbard, in exposing the malediction of Harris’ record, ironically did the soldier’s duty at its highest: defending the people of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Yet, though I come to bury Harris, I do not come primarily to praise Gabbard—even as she did act in a praiseworthy way. Rather, I come to thank the social movement without which the defenestration of the third-rate Pontius Pilate from the Golden State could not have been nearly so simple.

I refer, of course, to #BlackLivesMatter.

Why do I say this? Because more than any other leftist movement, #BlackLivesMatter has hammered into the heads of the Democratic base the idea that law enforcement—particularly cops and prosecutors—are anything but impartial, “incomprehensible” agents of justice. Rather, they claim, such people are at best unconscious tools of systemic racism, and at worst the willing, sadistic enforcers of such racism.

The Right once rolled its eyes at the calumny directed at the likes of Darren Wilson, Jeronimo Yanez, and Daniel Pantaleo, for what were regrettable but otherwise perfectly justifiable exercises of their duty as police officers. We might even still be inclined to find those men sympathetic, and to doubt the racially revanchist attitude that leads #BlackLivesMatter to condemn them, and all other agents of law enforcement, in the same breath. The cry of “All lives matter” or “Blue lives matter” might still carry music in our ears.

But even if all of this remains true for us on the Right, we cannot deny that the paranoid hypervigilance of BLM (as it’s often shortened) toward law enforcement and its agents has so penetrated the minds of left-wing activists that when a woman who walked, talked, and quacked like a caricature of an unscrupulous prosecutor stood before them, they gave thunderous applause to her accuser.

This didn’t just happen in the debate hall; it also happened on Twitter, where no less an entity than BLM grandee Shaun King affirmed that Harris was guilty of advocating the use of inmates as literal slaves. In that moment, the seemingly bulletproof armor of tokenism around Harris fell in shattered pieces to the ground, and instead of the potential first black female president of the United States (Slay Kweeeeeen!) she was turned into nothing more than—to quote an infinitely amusing new sobriquet for her—“Copmala Harass.”

Naturally, Senator “Harass” has a right to feel wronged by all this. There was a time, sometime around the last Democratic president’s first election, when a “top-tier candidate,” such as Copmala could have shot down the sorts of concerns raised by Gabbard as the desperate flailing of a treasonous left-wing radical, whose hatred of the dedicated public servants of law enforcement was of a piece with her criticism of U.S. foreign policy, and only showed that, darn it, Gabbard was just too soft on crime and too anti-American for even the Democratic Party.

That not one word of such an attack is true would have then been gracefully overlooked by the liberal doyennes of the media, who might cluck-cluck sadly about the necessity of pragmatism in a racist country, but would otherwise never dream of pointing out weakness on the part of such an historic figure.

Gabbard, meanwhile, would be muzzled with the threat of being relegated even further to the back benches, and either would quietly fade away or flame out with much hand wringing from pundits about the sad spectacle of such a promising young politician “losing her way.”

But Toto, I’m afraid it’s not 2008 anymore! And so, the worm of woke hatred for law enforcement has turned. Copmala Harass seems likely to carry on, but the “historic” nature of her candidacy now has a permanent blemish in the eyes of those who otherwise would be most sympathetic to a candidate like her. The irony is that a Democratic government that proposed to put the politics of the woke into practice would need just such a sour, humorless, paranoid Inspector Javert as Senator Harass to lead it, which is perhaps why the woke corporatists of Silicon Valley have been (and remain) so favorable to her candidacy.

Tulsi Gabbard drew blood this round, however. While the junior senator from California hoped to ascend to the presidency by transforming herself into the ghost of Democratic racism past, haunting Joe Biden into repentance and withdrawal from the race, that strategy is no longer possible. Gabbard, speaking with the moral authority of years of BLM activism, showed the world that there was more of gravy than of grave about this particular “ghost,” and it’s now an open question whether she can continue to haunt us.

Gabbard may have fired the shot that ended this particular cop’s malign tour of duty, but the gun was designed, assembled, and manufactured by Black Lives Matter. Thanks to them, the person most eager to claim their mantle has now been hoist on her own petard and summarily impaled. For that service to the nation, we owe BLM a very great debt of gratitude.

Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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About Callicles

Callicles is the pseudonym of a man of letters, an occasional political thinker, and a scourge of demagogues and victims.