Conservatives should not categorically reject the Black Lives Matter movement. If we do so, we risk rejecting some of the very limited government principles we advocate. We do not have to agree with everything people within the Black Lives Matter movement do or say to recognize there are areas of common ground.
First, BLM is a grassroots organization, much like the Tea Party. There is no singular leader or single organization. Therefore, it is wrong to condemn the entire movement based on the actions of a few. When BLM activists chant for the death of police officers, that is sick and depraved. When BLM activists vomit despicable lies that police are targeting black people for fun, that is sick and depraved. But not all of BLM agrees with or supports calls for violence and defamatory lies.
Conservatives (especially Christian conservatives) believe in limited government because we recognize that human beings are inherently corrupt. We need government to restrain the wickedness of men, but we also need government to be restrained because those in government are also corrupted by sin. Is that not one of the biggest points of the BLM agenda? That government power should be limited?
Yes, there are problems with BLM. Picking the Michael Brown case as a core of the movement was wrong, because the reason Brown was killed was because he violently attacked and beat a police officer. But what about Eric Garner? He did not commit any violent act that led to his arrest. He was selling loose cigarettes, something greedy Democrat Bill DeBlasio could not allow. DeBlasio could not abide someone not collecting tax revenue for him. Why are conservatives not pointing this out?
Yes, Garner was breaking the law. Yes, he should have been told to move along. But did he need to be violently taken down? No, he did not. Conservatives complain all the time about government power and the nanny state, and this is an example of that. Garner died not because he was a violent thug, but because he was not collecting taxes on the cigarettes he sold. It was excessive force for a victimless crime.
Even in the case s where a shooting may be legally justifiable, we should ask: Was it necessary? Could it have been prevented? A core premise of conservatism and libertarianism is that government should not use more force on people than needed. Take the case of Tamir Rice. In the moment, he was shot, perhaps the police officer had legitimate reason to believe his life was in danger. But what about the moments leading up to that? Did the police need to get that close? Could the situation have been deescalated? Even when a shooting is legal, that does not mean it needed to happen.
Let’s not forget that one of the things oppressing blacks is the use of burdensome government regulations as a way to generate revenue instead of taxes. People are hit with a steep fine for a minor violation, then assessed a bigger fine when they do not pay, and then more fines on top of that. Do we conservatives believe in limited government or not? Do we not see there are political advantages in opposing these government regulations and the fines imposed for minor violations?
Obviously, I could go on and on and on. If conservatives really believe in limited government and individual liberty, we should listen to what Black Lives Matter has to say. Who knows? With the moderating influence of conservatives, maybe some of the more extreme elements of BLM can be discredited and lose influence within the movement. We can support police officers and oppose bad government policy. We have nothing to lose by listening and finding common ground. Let’s do that.