Mark T. Mitchell on Do Black Lives Matter?

Do black lives matter? On the one hand, the answer seems pretty obvious: of course, black lives matter. In recent weeks, we’ve witnessed protests, rioting, and violence all intended, we are told, to convince the nation, and even the world, of that fact.

But even though most Americans agree with the sentiment (while many disagree with the tactics), we are left with a real question: why do black lives matter? Something does not become true simply because one person, or even a mob, insists it is true. So, we must do some thinking.

If one begins with the assumption that matter is the primary reality and that humans exist merely as a product of natural selection and random mutation, then insisting on the moral significance of the accidental outcome of that process smacks of wishful thinking. If matter is all there is, then human lives have no moral significance. Thus, the idea of equality has no moral value; the notion of human rights is merely a bald assertion without justification; and justice is a human invention that, more likely than not, will benefit the strong and wealthy at the expense of the weak and the poor. In this scheme, black lives do not matter. Black lives cannot matter morally and neither do any other lives. Power is the fundamental component of all human relationships, and in such a world, the weak will always lose. The only open question — eventually settled by violence — is determining who is, in fact, weak and who is strong. Our country is careening recklessly in this direction.

But clearly the BLM protesters are making a moral claim, even if their tactics have at times descended into chaos and violence. This suggests a strange combination. They are making a strong and justifiable claim against the abuse of power by the police and voicing anger about elements of racial injustice that seem baked into the system. At the same time, the tactics of pure power suggests that the only real currency is force. In this strange scheme, power is wed to purity; Machiavelli to Christianity; Nietzschean will-to-power to Puritan moralism. This union, of course, is fundamentally incoherent: we are simultaneously hearing passionate calls for justice — real justice — but witnessing actions that suggest that power is all that matters. If power is all that matters, justice is an illusion, but if justice is a real category, power is not ultimate.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Mark T. Mitchell