What Do They Want From This Lady?

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I just witnessed on TV a crowd of Black-Lives-Matter demonstrators protesting the arrival of our newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at a predominantly black public school in Southwest Washington. The following questions immediately came to mind as I looked at this scene—in total wonderment. Why would Black Lives Matter zealots be up in arms against Ms. DeVos, who has done absolutely nothing to offend them? Why were, among other sometimes violent demonstrators, blacks screaming “shame!” at this middle-aged lady? If the demonstrators were concerned that policemen are unfairly targeting black youth, then the new Secretary of Education has nothing to do with this practice, assuming that the charge is justified, which statistically it’s not…

What the angry blacks seemed to be protesting, however, was DeVos’s policies as an educational reformer. But here my perplexity is even greater. As far as I know, DeVos has been a champion of charter schools, as a vehicle for helping inner city minorities. She was closely identified with this project in Detroit, to the understandable outrage of the teachers’ unions. But why would those speaking for blacks, who are the intended beneficiaries of her education politics, be protesting in public against the new cabinet member? There is nothing to indicate that she’s trying to disadvantage minorities.

Allow me to provide two answers to these queries. First, Black Lives Matter is a tool of the Democratic Party and Democratic interests, and its demonstrators take to the streets whenever it can help the party they serve. The NEA and other teachers’ unions are major funders of the Democratic Party and did everything in their power to torpedo DeVos’s nomination as Secretary of Education. They lost on a very close Senate vote (in which the Vice-President had to push the nominee over the finishing line), and now the unions and the party are mobilizing their Black Lives auxiliary forces to embarrass and discredit a champion for school choice.

The fight against DeVos was long and ugly, and the Democratic Detroit News relentlessly aided the unions in pulling out all stops against the nominee. There were even bigoted aspersions coming from the Left (which is currently defending Islam as a religion of peace), that DeVos, a devout Dutch Calvinist, is trying to bring down public education for moral reasons. (If this is indeed her view of such education, then she is certainly not entirely wrong.) But whatever her theological reasons for favoring more educational choice for the underclass, there is nothing she’s said or done that would suggest she’s not eager to help this group. Black advocacy organizations have every reason to embrace her overtures.

Two, all groups on the give-them-hell Left, aka the victim industry, have begun to march together against the presumed Right, no matter what the occasion or the pretext for disturbing the peace. Right now the designated enemy is the Trump administration, which one might think is about to put blacks in chains, throw homosexuals off the roofs of high buildings, and bind the feet of women. It makes no difference whom Trump’s policies actually affect or don’t affect. If the teachers’ unions or La Raza don’t like the Donald, then he must be doing lots of nasty things to lesbians and bisexual sociology professors.

All beneficiaries of the victim industry appear to have taken a blood oath to act together against the “fascists,” “homophobes,” and “racists,” and this is what the Black Lives Matter crowd are doing when they protest someone whom their friends in the Democratic Party and in the victim industry designate as the enemy. This activity has no relation to what the person being protested did or does. In fact, the relation is entirely inverse. The person in this case who is being humiliated has tried to help the group that is protesting her appearance at a local school. And I suspect the demonstrators mean nothing personal when they act up. They’re just following orders or expressing solidarity with the rest of the nutcase Left.

Paul Gottfried is an American political philosopher and intellectual historian, and former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.