Holy Smoke

Black Lives Matter: the deadly combination of violent activism and thought police

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In this episode

Damian Thompson

In the current episode of Holy Smoke, my guest Professor Richard Landes – a historian specialising in apocalyptic movements – explains what is so clever, and so dangerous, about the modus operandi of Black Lives Matter.

As he says, it allows people to indulge their own fantasies, even if their visions of the future are incompatible.

So millennials, encouraged by intellectually lazy politicians, business leaders and churchmen, can persuade themselves that the toppling of statues will clear space for a multiracial utopia. The far-left thugs of Antifa, meanwhile, can fantasise (more plausibly, alas) about the collapse of capitalist society. And a new generation of black activists can develop their nebulous but unmistakably racist concept of 'Blackness' as an identity that bestows special wisdom on people of a certain skin colour.

How do you reconcile these contradictory ideas? The answer is that you don't need to – not if, like the founders of Black Lives Matters, you have been taught by postmodernists in American universities that it doesn't matter if 'narratives' conflict so long as everything is couched in the rhetoric of identity politics.

Black Lives Matter has worked out that even the most mild-mannered clergy can be turned into thought police. It's not a question of enforcing true ideological conformity; merely of gagging anyone who says anything that displeases BLM.

At the end of the podcast I mention the case of Fr Daniel Moloney, who was chaplain to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until he pointed out – correctly – that we still don't know to what extent the killing of George Floyd was racist. At which point his boss, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, threw him under the bus.

Please don't miss this episode.