X Close

BLM was a magnet for grifters

Xahra Saleem was one of the organisers of the Bristol protest which toppled Edward Colston's statue. Credit: Getty

November 1, 2023 - 10:00am

With the passage of time comes distance, and perspective. It is more than three years since that strange summer of 2020, when the entire Western world was convulsed by the George Floyd protests, organised by local Black Lives Matter groups, and the accompanying moral panics over statues, police racism and “white supremacy”. 

It is no surprise, then, that we are now seeing investigations into what happened to some of the huge amounts of money raised for BLM. Xahra Saleem, a BLM activist who helped to organise the violent disorder that culminated in the attack on Bristol’s Edward Colston statue, has just been jailed for stealing donations intended for an anti-racism group that she set up.

In 2020, across the world, money poured into BLM chapters, not least from large corporations keen to demonstrate to the public and to their junior employees that they were on the side of social justice. Questions about what exactly was going to happen to that money — amounting eventually to the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pounds, globally — were unwelcome in the near-hysterical atmosphere of the time. 

In the US there has already been considerable fallout from that lack of due diligence. One of the founders of BLM, Patrisse Cullors, controversially bought a house worth $1.4 million. There are several ongoing lawsuits involving alleged misuse of money by other members, and a body called the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has faced searching questions from its own supporters about the purchase of a $6 million property, all while grassroots projects are struggling for funds. 

Most political or social movements attract a few people with dubious motives or an eye for the main chance. The presence of fraudsters does not necessarily call into question the justice of a movement. However, when a particular cause is hedged around with taboos, enforced by establishment media, to the extent that obvious questions about governance, spending and oversight are simply not asked, that cause will attract grifters like moths to a flame. BLM was and is a classic example. 

The great tension between its media-friendly public image — who could possibly disagree that black lives matter? — and the enormously radical aims espoused by various parts of the organisation was rarely explored, certainly at the height of the Summer of Floyd and in the subsequent couple of years. 

I cannot recall the BBC or any similar news organisation placing BLM under the same kind of scrutiny to which any other campaign group would have been subjected. Someone who depends on the BBC for their analysis and insight into current affairs would have no idea that BLM not only favours the abolition of almost the entire criminal justice system as currently constituted, but is also profoundly opposed to the married family and to free expression, and adopts a fundamentally Marxist view of the world. The organisation is protected by the incredibly strong contemporary taboos around racial matters. 

So powerful are these taboos that even conservative politicians have fought shy of breaking them. Some high-profile Tories courted controversy in 2020 for their criticism of “taking the knee”, with Dominic Raab perhaps the most famous example. Yet even they did not dare to publicly articulate a thoroughgoing critique of the practice and its racially divisive intent, instead making half-joking remarks about only kneeling for their wives. And it is exactly this reluctance to engage in honest argument about difficult subjects that is exploited by grifters like Xahra Saleem. It is unlikely hers will be the last case of its kind.


Niall Gooch is a public sector worker and occasional writer who lives in Kent.

niall_gooch

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

54 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
R M
R M
8 months ago

In the inimitable words of Hyman Roth in The Godfather II, Xahra Saleem is small potatoes. Just one of any number of grifters all over the world who rip off the well-intentioned but credulous.
The real danger is that in the name of diversity and inclusion millions of children are now being taught race-baiting idiocy like “white people invented slavery” as a matter of fact.

Paul Castle
Paul Castle
8 months ago
Reply to  R M

This is the main problem & with social media it is so easy now to tell a lie to sell your extremist propaganda .

L Brady
L Brady
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Castle

Social media is bad, but look at the likes of the BBC, even worse.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
8 months ago
Reply to  L Brady

Fairly soon the BBC will be commonly seen for what it is …. just another social media site run and fed by attention seekers desperate for the approval of their fellow bubble dwellers.
The only difference is that the BBC is on the way down.

Last edited 8 months ago by Ian Barton
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
8 months ago

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Eric Hoffer

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Yes, Amnesty International is a classic example

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

The RSPB also

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
8 months ago

???

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
8 months ago

Look at their record on wind farms and the number of birds of prey they kill. Which of these does the RSPB choose to support and protect?

Ronald Bell
Ronald Bell
8 months ago

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

And Stonewall

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Dulle Griet

Definitely, Stonewall shouldn’t just be expelled from any role in spreading it’s propaganda, disguised as consultancy,in the Public sector, Unions, charities and civil service, it should be forced to go into liquidation.

RM Parker
RM Parker
8 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

God, I love Hoffer. I need to dust off some of my books for another reading…

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago

It’s always worth looking with cynical eyes at any organisation that sells feeling good.
Although it is not the be all and end all try looking at formal Religion as an industry selling salvation. Look at charities that started out addressing a need like famine relief and have swung around to lobbying as a more certain revenue stream (I did say this was a cynical view). Political parties that end up supporting vested interests. Union bosses that pay themselves well. The list goes on – because people who make their careers in this type of work rise to the top and change the priority of the original aims of the organisation to something more personally rewarding.
My guess is that deficiencies in accounting in BLM have come to early recognition because the grifters were less practiced than usual. Now that’s cynical.

R M
R M
8 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

As a basic rule, any organisation which claims (or it is claimed on their behalf) to be above legitimate scrutiny because its cause is so self-evidently righteous and its morality so unquestionably unimpeachable is probably hiding something.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  R M

… e.g. the Kids Company.

RM Parker
RM Parker
8 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I think it was Orwell who opined that “every saint should be considered guilty until proven innocent”?

Dulle Griet
Dulle Griet
8 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Isn’t maths racist according to CRT? Perhaps that explains their deficiencies in accounting?

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
8 months ago

And what a contrast with the great civic generosity of Edward Colston.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago

I live in Bristol, and have toyed with the idea of renaming my home “Colston House”.

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
8 months ago

Being reported in The Times and the Guardian where no comments are allowed on either. I have had a decent look around the BBC website, drilling down to England and found an article under Bristol but nothing in England visible or the main pages.

R M
R M
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Buckley

The Guardian doesn’t open comments on any article which is likely to result in people saying things its owners, editors and staff don’t want to hear.
“Comment is Free” was a statement of journalistic principle under C.P. Scott, but is no more than gaslighting under Katherine Viner.

Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago
Reply to  R M

Just so – they used to allow them, but then it was made a safe space. I suspect it was the staff who demanded it – as far as I could see the commenters of all poltical stripes were enjoying the debate, which only rarely became a melee. Before the shutdown, they often censored comments: the only site I’ve ever had a comment removed from – though to be fair they reinstituted it after my complaint. Coddled mods who can’t tell the difference between an opinion and abuse, silence and violence.

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I abandoned commenting on the Grauniad some years ago (just after the Brexit referendum). The tone of the comments became more spiteful and contrary views became more likely to be censored.
There are a few other websites I used to comment on but the tone of the debates soured and became one-note authoritarian.
Life is too short to engage with unreasonable people.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
8 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I still run through the Guardian comments once a week or so for educational purposes, but it’s hard – nothing is ever just ‘wrong’, it’s always ‘they’re lying to you’; nothing can be a matter of opinion, it must always be progressive truth vs fascist wingnut fake news. Apart from a few sad old geezers like me, who do they think is reading this tosh? Though they all apparently believe that Polly Toynbee is scouring every comment on her piece looking for validation, sadly.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I was a Guardian-reader during my twenties. These days I find it completely unreadable.

R M
R M
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I finally realised commenting on the Guardian was pointless when I had a post moderated which simply repeated by way of agreement one of the points made above-the-line.
When you are censored for agreeing with the published article, you know you’ve hit the bottom of the rabbit hole.
Its such a shame because they have lost some quality contributors in their drive for conformity. I really enjoyed reading Hadley Freeman and while I often disagreed with Suzanne Moore on political questions, I never doubted her capacity to form the cogent argument with which I disagreed. Many of the commentators who are left are either completely neutered by acquiescence to editorial diktats or, in my opinion, just a bit dim.

Paul Castle
Paul Castle
8 months ago
Reply to  R M

Many years ago , decades , I used to read the Guardian but then it went full on Marxist and nonsense and Iies and I dropped it like a hot potato .

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
8 months ago
Reply to  R M

Nanny Graun also censors the paper’s circulation figures since 2021.

Possibly they were falling so fast that it was impossible to even see the number.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
8 months ago
Reply to  R M

They sacked Malcom Muggeridge when he reported on the famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s, so nothing has changed.

Adam Huntley
Adam Huntley
8 months ago

For as long as certain bad actors can convince gullible white liberals that they are oppressed and the white liberals seek absolution from their sin of their white supremacy, the grifters in the form of trainers, public speakers, academics and pundits on daytime TV will be able to pursue a lucrative career. It’s just a pity that those liberals lacking in any self respect also hold budgets in mainstream media, universities and churches

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
8 months ago

Wow, politicians in Britain actually took the knee. Next, you’ll be throwing tea into the Thames. That is completely bonkers! Your cops don’t even carry guns!

Paul Castle
Paul Castle
8 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

Those that took the knee really showed their total ignorance of everything .

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  Paul Castle

Good comment, but would you mind in future quarantining “took the knee” inside quote marks where this ridiculous phrase belongs.

Paul Castle
Paul Castle
8 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

I didn’t realise that this platform went in for censorship .
Oh the irony and so has this comment !

Last edited 8 months ago by Paul Castle
Alison Wren
Alison Wren
8 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

And that, my man, is why the UK has almost NO deaths and injuries from gunshot wounds. There are police specially trained to carry guns, but they are deployed in emergencies only. And the prevailing feeling here is that that is just as it should be.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
8 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Your quaint British Bobbys wouldn’t last a day in New York. Here in the Upside/Down everyone carries guns, and we send cops to jail when they use theirs.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
8 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

Some of them do, but only to pointlessly show off while hanging around on street corners ignoring crime.

Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago

Hanging around on a street corner? Too cold for that; more than the job’s worth. Nah – nice and warm in the car/office….. and safer – after all it’s the job of police to keep things safe.

Last edited 8 months ago by Dominic A
Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

They did in the US too – lots of them – in fact the whole thing is American in origin. Including the specific nature of the insult – kneeling during the US anthem – which does not carry through to the UK, particularly because our MP-kneelers did so at Floyd memorials rather than during the anthem (we are also relatively relaxed about the national anthem, respecting the flag etc).

As for our police not carrying guns – that position has been the poplular one for a long time, by a slight margin, which may change. It makes sense, given that the UK homicide rate is about 15% of the US’s, and our ‘shooter-on-the loose problem’ is a fraction of 1% of the USA’s.

Last edited 8 months ago by Dominic A
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Weird that people would get all upset about someone kneeling while someone else sings some crappy song while those same people are super chill about the police murdering citizens in full view.

Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago

Yes, it reminds of two commenters on this site who recently explained to me how it is in the States – viz: ‘America’s apparent gun problem is not actually a gun problem, per se, or much of a problem in general, as the ‘vast majority’ of those killed are black, and most of those killings carried out by ‘gangsters’. Also, that white people who were killed whilst living in downtown, or majority black areas have only themselves to blame. Did you think, perchance, these weird phenomena are related?

starkbreath
starkbreath
8 months ago

An interesting perspective coming from someone who advocated throwing the Canadian truckers and their supporters in jail for their temerity in challenging Trudeau’s ludicrous vaccine mandate. Also, some of those shot dead by police (e.g. Alton Sterling, Michael Brown) brought it on themselves.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I think you missed my point.

Dominic A
Dominic A
8 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

Oops – is that a whoosh noise I heard going over my head?

Last edited 8 months ago by Dominic A
Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
8 months ago

The whole woke movement is a home for grifters including all those non-productive roles in DEI, ESG and the rest. When you marry luxury beliefs with a need to find work for 50% of young folk going to university, don’t be surprised if parasitic roles is the outcome. There aren’t enough real jobs going around and a decade of 0% interest rates can weather it on the p and l. 6%? Let’s watch.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
8 months ago

BLM is a racist organization. It’s in its name – that ‘Black’ Lives Matter. Not White, not European, not African (with its multiple ethnicities), not Asian (with ITS multiple ethnicities), not Jewish, not Christian, not Muslim, not Buddhist, not Hindu. ‘Black’ Lives Matter, as if to say that ONLY ‘Black’ Lives Matter.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

White lives matter.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
8 months ago

White Lives Matter!

j watson
j watson
8 months ago

Generally agree.
Let’s see some articles about the amount of Populist grifting that goes on too to hoodwink and rip off the credulous. I suspect the sums involved dwarf BLM

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
8 months ago

In hind sight I can’t believe that many of us in the West allowed ourselves to be ripped off by religion Again!

Fool me once…

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
starkbreath
starkbreath
8 months ago

So therefore Cullors, Kendi and the other race hustlers are justified? Whataboutism isn’t an argument, to the contrary, it’s just a dodge that woke shitweasels love to use because they have nothing of substance to back their absurd assertions. Weak, weak, weak.

Last edited 8 months ago by starkbreath