How Black Lives Matter is a Satanic Issue
There are quite a few controversial sociopolitical topics in the US currently, and one that sees re-occurring and wide ranging emotional and political rhetoric is that of Black Lives Matter (BLM). As Satanists we are accustom to controversy simply by identifying with a national organization of Satanists. So as I go forward in this essay, I ask that we employ our critical thinking skills and to look past the superficial exterior of an organization name, otherwise we may be guilty of the same hypocrisy we rage against in the religious arena.
At first I considered discarding with the discussion of BLM and focusing on simply ideological social injustice issues. But then I remember that as Satanists, we use our name as a hammer to call attention to the injustice of government support for one religion over another. So I don’t have a particular issue with the controversy of the organizational name of BLM. My point of this essay is this:
Black Lives Matter and their ideological argument for justice and equality in our justice system is fundamentally parallel to The Satanic Temple’s fight for plurality and separation of church and state, and it is something that we as Satanists should support.
First, we need to do a hypocrisy check. Should you view these illustrations differently you should ask yourself; Why? Do you have a personal bias or are you recalling political propaganda that has influenced you?
When I start the conversation of BLM, I often get the following comments:
“Black Lives Matter is a violent group.” One example I have seen cited is a group of African Americans beat up a group of white people while chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ (Cleveland 19 Digital Team, 2016). So do we blame an organization for violent actions of people who may on the surface seem affiliated or aligned with them?
“Satanists are violent.” A Satanic cult is believed to be responsible for the murder of a pregnant Argentinian woman (Adu, 2017). Does the Satanic Temple bear the responsibility for every random murder people attribute to Satanists?
“Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.” Because the FBI made a halfcocked report said that they had analyzed the potential for violence of black identity extremism or because protests had often gotten out of hand? This potential for violence became a propaganda tool to say that they were a terrorist organization.
We have seen decades of satanic panic, where every missing child or occult symbol was attributed to satanic cults that were blamed for ritual abuse and murders. What about violent individuals who, like one student, tried to ‘bomb’ a famous tree while shouting ‘hail Satan’ (Crime, 2017). Are we to a terrorist organization because of violence that occurs where conservative propaganda uses it as a convenient label?
Lastly, “Black Lives Matter hates cops and white people and are racists.” Except if you look at what the organization posts as their ‘what we believe’ you see:
BLM – “We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.”
TST – “One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.”
BLM – “We work vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.”
TST – “The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.”
BLM – “We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.”
TST – “The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one’s own.”
Hopefully by this point I have demonstrated at least some compelling evidence to draw you in enough to be receptive to understanding what the social issue is they are struggling against. Because the issue continues today and we see it in the news regularly, though it takes different faces. Recently we had the Colin Kaepernick Nike campaign that sparked outrage in the white conservative nationalists because of kneeling to the national anthem. Because conservatives cannot bother to read a book or delve deeper into an issue and only have their knee jerk butt hurt reaction to their perceived slight to their all mighty idol. Flag worship, can you imagine a more ironic thing for Christians to stand for? It is literally all over the bible about not worshiping other gods or idols and yet they weep their crocodile tears for the disrespect that a black man shows for their ‘flag’. But as I am often reminding these knuckle dragging illiterates our country is not founded on the flag, but the constitution. It is in the ideology of freedom of the people to protest in free speech and object to the constitutional rights of others being trampled on by the tyrannical state that has forgotten its responsibility to the people. I have seen time and time again our veterans telling people that they fought for all Americans to keep those rights of freedom.
Which is more disrespectful to our military men and women, kneeling during the national anthem or shitting on their sacrifice by letting Americans lose the very rights of life and liberty and equality they fight to protect?
We have struggled as a community with the notions of free speech recently in the light of white supremacists and other hate mongers who violate all of our notions of empathy and decency. To what extent do we hold to our principles of free speech in the face of a message we disagree with? But Kaepernick’s message was not about the flag or about the troops or about the constitution (at least not directly), it was about injustice faced by a community of Americans that we have struggled to bring into the light.
I would be willing to bet that most people who are against BLM or Kaepernick’s protest, actually don’t know what the central issue is about. Black Lives Matter started in 2013 after the police shooting of Trayvon Martin, but became nationally recognized in 2014 after subsequent shootings in Ferguson, Missouri.
The issue is about inequality and the current state of affairs as it relates to our criminal justice system.
Presumably there is no one who is going to argue the United States has a prison system problem. Also, presumably we don’t have to argue over the empirical data that demonstrates there is a preponderance of African Americans incarcerated over other racial demographics (Wagner, 2012; Simon, 2016). These two things are facts that no one should be in denial of. The social inequality of minorities has not gone away simply because of the success of the civil rights movement; it has just taken on a more institutionalized appearance. The role of the police has been subverted from Protect and Serve: the Department of Justice’s own report that cities like Ferguson employ police for revenue rather than public safety. When this is the case, protecting the lives of citizens is never going to be the first priority. They also found “racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans. The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities. Over time, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices have sown deep mistrust between parts of the community and the police department, undermining law enforcement legitimacy among African Americans in particular” (DOJ, 2015 p2). If this is how one whole city operates we can imagine there are others. It is a generalization to say that Ferguson is representative of the whole, it isn’t; however, as an example there are probably others as well. This kind of dysfunctional government system is the reason why people are angry.
The anger of the injustice continues on a daily basis; we see countless examples every day of unarmed people being executed by the police or brutally beaten with excessive force. The police are not judge, jury and executioners, they are there to be servants of the people, protectors of peace. They are equipped with military hardware and supposedly trained on how to use it and we are to believe that an arrest cannot be made without lethal force? Many will comment about how people shouldn’t commit crimes and then these things won’t happen; well what about the people who have committed no crime? What about Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist who was shot attempting to care for an autistic man in his care. Unarmed, not breaking the law? What about Botham Shem Jean who was recently shot to death in his own home by a police officer who just wandered into the wrong house (Allen & Sterling, 2018)? These examples go on and on they are not a simple statistical anomaly. We have a problem in our justice system.
In any case where the government system shows this level of failure there is public outrage and, given that the majority of our government officials are older white men, it is easy to see how they have a lack of understanding of social issues that clearly don’t affect them. I myself am a late 30’s white male and so this issue is not one that affects me personally, but it affects me as a person.
Sadly, if you listen to conservatives there is no right way to protest this issue without them boiling it down to the most ridiculous propaganda for their audience. People can’t protest in the streets against the KKK, you can’t block traffic, you can’t silently take a knee during the national anthem. There is no way to satisfy anyone when it comes to trying to bring attention to an issue. Certainly if we look at TST protests, they have been, Creative? Ostentatious? Provocative? Appalling to some? So we really can’t criticize on tactics that we ourselves have used to draw attention to our issues.
We can go around and around about what is the best way, but frankly any way that doesn’t involve active violence is an appropriate way. Trump would like to cite his ‘whataboutism’ how protesters might have had clubs or sticks at a protest and were there to be an opposition to white supremacy. Well, how many white supremacy protests have we seen where they show up in full riot gear with assault rifles? Have protests gotten out of hand? Yes, it is almost an inevitable aspect of any protest no matter how peaceful people want it to be. But, we can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We can’t call BLM or AntiFa terrorists because that isn’t helpful to the social discussion, and to my knowledge they haven’t driven a car into a protest killing people. I know this is old news but it isn’t a problem that is over so we have to continue to talk about it. The kneeling in the NFL is the only thing that continues to get coverage currently, but even that, the message is lost in the ‘RaRa’ you hate America Bullshit that is spouted by conservatives. If they spent a fraction of the energy they do denigrating a social movement and fixed something, the problem would be resolved. I know, I know, I am crazy with talk of Republicans fixing problems. The point stands unequivocally, and we know this as Satanists: Sometimes to effect a social change you have to stand up and be rowdy, be ostentatious, be in people’s faces and be an ADVERSARIALIST to the system of oppression. Social change is never easy, but we can either choose to stand with our fellow man, or we can lie down like cowards and propagate rhetoric like conservatives.
Black Lives Matter is a Satanist issue. If there is anything in secular humanism or Satanism that is a real concrete example of what it is we stand for or should stand for it is BLM. Addressing social inequality and promoting well-being of all people is a fundamental aspect of Humanism and Satanism. While some humanists have said things like we have to stop differentiating ourselves by labels based on ethnicity, skin color, political party, religious affiliation, etc., humanity will continue to suffer from the tribalistic prejudices and bigotry that engenders “us” versus “them”; and they are not wrong but this is a long term end goal that we cannot simply act as if incremental changes are not acceptable. We will likely never reach that point in human evolution, just as we will never do away with ignorance and religious dogma that is based on zero evidence in reality. So addressing this particular social inequality is a necessary step, it is a major issue in the US. We have a larger prison population than any other country in the world and a police force that doesn’t protect and serve as its primary function; there is something inherently wrong with that as a developed nation. It is important to continue the dialog of what things can be done when there are clear, GLARING problems that are in dire need of reform.
Cleveland 19 Digital Team (2016) Men chant ‘Black lives matter’ before viciously attacking white victims, police say. Retrieved from: http://m.cleveland19.com/story/32814897/men-chant-black-lives-matter-before-viciously-attacking-white-victims
Adu, A. (2017) Pregnant woman stabbed, burned in satanic ritual tied to gang violence. The New York Post. Retrieved from: https://nypost.com/2017/08/17/pregnant-woman-slaughtered-and-burned-in-satanic-ritual-linked-to-gang-violence/
Llorente, E. (2017) FBI cites black extremists as new domestic terrorist threat. Fox News. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/10/fbi-cites-black-extremists-as-new-domestic-terrorist-threat.html
Crime (2017) Student yells ‘Hail Satan,’ tries to bomb UNC’s famous Davie Poplar tree, professor gets severe burns. Fox News. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/11/03/student-yells-hail-satan-tries-to-bomb-unc-s-famous-davie-poplar-tree-professor-gets-severe-burns.html
Department of Justice (2015) Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. USDOJ. Retrieved from: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/03/04/ferguson_police_department_report.pdf
Simon, C. (2016) There is a stunning gap between the number of white and black inmates in America’s prisons. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/study-finds-huge-racial-disparity-in-americas-prisons-2016-6
Wagner, P. (2012) Prison Policy Initiative. Retrieved from: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/graphs/raceinc.html
Allen, K.; & Sterling, J. (2018) Dallas police seeking warrant for officer after man’s fatal shooting. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/07/us/dallas-police-shooting/index.html