The movement is hurting the people it was meant to help
The mother of all social trends in recent years has been dispersion. Contrary to what people hoped or feared about the sexual revolution turning everyone into “girlymen”, as Arnold Schwarzenegger once put it, some men and women have become more gender-neutral, while many others have gone the other way; either spending vast amounts of time and money on beauty products to accentuate their femininity or hitting the weights (and steroids) to resemble Khal Drogo. Far more men take testosterone supplements – by some distance – than transition or identify as gender fluid.
The same is true with almost every lifestyle trend, even politics; in the late 90s commentators wrote that the major US parties were converging and educated people were coming to develop bland, middle-of-the-road views, yet the opposite has happened. Among those with degrees, people tend to move into niches that are increasingly extreme and divorced from mainstream opinion — which is pretty much what you’d expect from a society with greater freedom and less conformism. (And with assortative mating, our personalities are most likely becoming more divergent and extreme even on a genetic level.)
Crime is another example of dispersion. It is now known that the American murder rate increased sharply following the George Floyd protests, with an extra 2,000 homicides associated with the June 2020 protests, on top of the several thousand already linked with BLM and its influence.
Yet compared to the 1965-1990 US crime wave, this time the murder surge is highly dispersed, with a huge increase in the most dangerous areas but almost no change in the safest.
Wealthy Americans are often accused of “talking the 60s, walking the 50s” and the very nature of dispersion means that they can pretty much talk as much as they like and be immune to the negative consequences.
This is why “defund the police” was the ideal example of what Robert Henderson called luxury beliefs: “ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.”
Urban America is incredibly violent by the standards of the developed world, and any reduction in policing is going to have extreme and terrible consequences, almost all of which will disproportionately fall on the poor and black people. Many of these murders involve seemingly minor disputes over the real issue of status, while in a different universe the debate over race is a dispute over status between white people.
Few political movements in recent years have been more closely associated with such catastrophic consequences for those it claims to represent as BLM. No cause has received such widespread support from above, to such an extent that it’s still plastered across our screens even as we try watch the football.
But that’s the nature of dispersion; people might live in the same city or the same borough, and yet inhabit an entirely different worlds.