I recently received two comments from a person who identifies himself as Eddie Lehman. He was quite upset about what he viewed as the danger posed to Saratoga Springs by Black Lives Matters (BLM). He characterized them as Marxists who would use violence against the community. His comments contained inaccurate information and the tone of the two emails was sufficiently harsh that I emailed him asking that he rewrite his concerns using a more temperate tone.
I subsequently received an email from him which I have included at the end of this post. He has toned it down and it is sufficiently temperate that with a few minor edits I am publishing it as part of this post. Readers should understand that I am more tolerant of commenters when their target is me. Were this an attack on someone else, it would not have been accepted.
As to his claim that BLM is some kind of a dangerous Marxist organization, just because someone finds value in insights offered by Karl Marx does not make them a potential threat to others. Biographies of the four women who founded Black Lives Matters on the BLM website make no reference to Marx, however. In fact the emphasis is more on cultural issues around being artists, issues of gender, and of course, issues of race.
Most of the people participating in the demonstrations about the murder of George Floyd are young people who are concerned about the problem of racism in our country and the excessive use of force by police in many communities.
During the most recent demonstration in Saratoga Springs participants at times marched in the street and even sat down at intersections blocking traffic to draw attention to their message. There was no vandalism nor indication that they were interested in fighting with the police. Some parents had brought their children to this march.
I applaud Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton and Police Chief Shane Crooks for the way they have handled these challenging situations.
I know that some people will argue that the demonstrators were breaking the law and should have been arrested. This fails to consider that thoughtful law enforcement officers are often flexible in dealing with incidents they encounter. For example, people are not usually arrested for jay walking.
Last year when I was on vacation in Louisiana my friend who was driving was speeding well above the speed limit. A deputy sheriff stopped us. After checking my friend’s license he told him that he was going to simply give him a warning this time. He told my friend that he patrols this road regularly and that if he found him speeding again he would ticket him. He observed that speeding put not only my friend’s life at risk but others driving the road as well.
Good police work involves good judgement. In the case of the demonstration, police cars drove with the participants to protect them from harm from vehicles and to insure that uninvolved pedestrians were also protected.
In my opinion Eddie Lehman exaggerates the threat of the BLM demonstrations. He is, however, not alone in his concerns and he deserved to have his position published on this site once inaccurate information was removed and as long as contrary responses from other followers of this blog are published.
Here is the slightly edited version of an email he sent to me personally through my blog.
I’m disappointed that you chose to silence the alarm that I was trying to sound out of love for this delightful city. I merely stated facts and tried to expose BLM for what they truly are. We’ve obviously been targeted by the same organization that has burning, looting, violence, and overall destruction accompanied by demands to defund the police follow them across the country wherever they go, and the protests here are escalating. These are irrefutable facts. If that isn’t worthy of citizens’ attention, then what is?! So either you’re just playing half-[JK: edited] XXXXX journalist and you lack the courage to address anything serious that poses a threat to Saratoga Springs or you don’t care much about this City. Either way I will be unsubscribing upon completion of this email. I just don’t have time for kiddie newspapers.From Eddie Lehman’s email to me.
6 thoughts on “Commenter Attacks Black Lives Matter”
Eddie Lehman’s words are redolent of a man angry because the views that he has harbored most of his life have been stripped bare of any moral justification, and his frustration and shame can only be mollified by lashing out at the messengers of his dismay. This “Kiddie” newspaper is one of few that doesn’t spew corporatist propaganda, so it will remain on this subscribers reading list.
I’m unsure what the purpose of this post is, as it doesn’t contain any factual information or critique of the Black Lives Matters movement locally or nationally. Instead it reads like the fear-mongering rhetoric used by politicians and others trying to suppress a group fighting for equality and accountability.
To my knowledge there has been no burning, looting, violence, or destruction locally. The protests I’ve seen here have been peaceful, with the largest irritant possibly being minor traffic disruptions as a group crosses the street. Nationally there have been cases of looting, but that has been denounced by everyone associated with BLM and there are countless videos showing organizers attempting to stop others from destruction. As for the small percentage doing the actual looting, the evidence on who these people are is both limited and mixed, but it seems to be some blend of those there solely to cause destruction (without any association with the peaceful protesters), those looking to destroy as a form of protest or symbolically, and those looking to ramp up chaos. You can read more about this phenomenon here: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/06/why-people-loot/612577/
“Defund the police” has largely been explained to mean using dollars allocated for police departments and instead investing them in communities in areas such as housing, mental health, education, and other areas that have been starved while police budgets skyrocket. If Mr. Lehman really cared to learn more, he could watch the video below which is right on the home page of BLM, through which they explain what “Defund the police” means: https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-defunding-the-police-really-means/
If Mr. Lehman doesn’t trust BLM, here’s an article about the idea in the Washington Post from a Georgetown professor: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/07/defund-police-heres-what-that-really-means/
John, as I alluded to in another post, I’m unsure what your comment that he’s “not alone in his concerns” means, and I certainly don’t know why his dog-whistle post “deserved to have his position published on this site”. He’s blaming BLM for destruction and violence that hasn’t happened locally, and makes it seem like “defund the police” is a cause for alarm without simply Googling what the term means. For not writing about his made-up complaints, he then insults you. I honestly don’t know what the point of this post is unless you want commentators taking him to task, which seems like a tough assignment given the limitations you’ve set on intra-comments disputes. If Mr. Lehman has specific complaints, I’ll try my best to answer him, but given the language he uses and his own obvious lack of looking into the issues he says he cares so deeply about, I don’t have high hopes for a healthy dialogue.
Sadly, John omitted much of what made my point and his purpose in publishing parts in the fashion that he did along with exaggerations seem to be to make me look bad and turn people against me. I could reiterate the whole of my point, but he’ll just omit it again. Evidently there is merit to it as we saw the night of the “Back the Blue” rally. So let’s see if John is as critical of City elected officials as he is of me in his biased editorials in dealing with the “peaceful protestors”.
Have you not seen what’s been happening in Portland and Seattle as a result of the BLM protests? Do you not think that they wouldn’t do the same things here if there were enough of their “peaceful protests” I wept when I saw what was done to George Floyd. That was the catalyst, but what’s happening now across the country is not about race. My father, I am extremely proud to say, marched on D.C. with Dr. King in the ’60s. I have a black nephew who I love dearly. That is the kind of people I come from, and I am no different. I find it very odd that BLM is for reducing the police force when they know, and as we’ve seen, results in markedly increased black on black murders, some of them children. Evidently only some black lives matter to them. Sad.
This is a valuable, very specialized blog. Saratoga Springs politics.
The blogger is doing the work that the Saratogian is no longer able to do. He digs deep into local politics and issues on zoning, ethics, development, etc. I could read all the local papers and still not learn enough as I do from this blog.
So to me, the value and strength here is this blog’s narrow focus. The deeper into local politics John digs, the more we learn. And what I find helpful is readers with expertise who leave comments that amplify the work John is doing. Readers with backgrounds in architecture and zoning, and readers who are personally acquainted with some of the representatives John quotes.
So when the discussion broadens into topics that one can see in any blog, or in the ignorant reader comments in the Schenectady Gazette or even any national publication, it distracts from this blogger’s greatest strengths.
I’m old enough to remember when Martin Luther King was being called a communist. Anyone advocating for any social progress, whether for the rights of minorities or women or the poor was labeled a marxist socialist communist. Over half a century ago, an organization called “The Network of Patriotic Letter Writers of Pasadena” claimed the Peace Symbol was a symbol of the Anti-Christ perpetuated by a Communist conspiracy. They called it the “witch’s foot.” But back then they needed a mimeograph machine, or at the very least a typewriter and some postage stamps. Nowadays, the modern version of these people have it easier. All it takes is one click on POST COMMENT and their work is done.
The owner of a private blog being accused of censorship for not posting every reader comment reminds me of the employee of the privately-owned supermarket I visited last week being yelled at by an elderly, maskless man for “violating his rights” for being asked to cover his coughing mouth.
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My high school years learning about Marxism are far behind me, so upon reading this post I sought to understand more about the alleged connection between Black Lives Matter and Marxism.
In a July 23, 2015 interview on The Real News Network, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors is asked about the history of Black Lives Matter. While the entire interview is worth watching, she describes in her own words about her (and one of her co-founder’s) training and ideology in Marxism at the segment starting at 5:40: https://therealnews.com/stories/pcullors0722blacklives
I then Googled the following terms, in this order:
Marxism – the political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, later developed by their followers to form the basis for the theory and practice of communism.
Communism – a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.
I visited the Black Lives Matter website, and like you said JK, the words Marxism or Marx are not on the website. Nonetheless, in the absence of a formal statement from Black Lives Matter explaining the earlier interview from 2015, I can see how some people could interpret the ideological framework of Black Lives Matter as Marxist with there being evidence, directly from co-founder Patrisse Cullors, to support the claim. That being said – I cannot find anything to refute the claim that Black Lives Matter is founded by Marxists, either.
Marxism aside, there were two things that I found heartwarming on the “What We Believe” page from the Black Lives Matter page:
“We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children.”
I attended the Community Conversations on Wednesday night, which had the stated goal of learning and listening about concerns with racism and policing within Saratoga Springs.
After an hour and a half, it seemed like the words “community” and “conversation” were a juxtaposition. There was a lack of empathy and it was not a family-friendly space.
While a few people were able to respectfully make their point or ask a question, there were people typing “SHUT UP” and insulting each other in the chatbox, swearing, putting up their middle finger in their video, yelling, and acting immature.
To say that the outrage and emotion surrounding racism is comprehensible is an understatement. The cause of defeating racism is noble and overdue.
It is also important to remember that relationships are the building blocks for all community organizing activities. Building a healthy relationship and gaining allies requires effective communication, time, mutual respect and friendliness.
I would hate to see genuine efforts for reconciliation go to the wayside because of rude and disrespectful behavior combined with a lack of planning.
I recommend that if another Community Conversation takes place, that there be a moderator for the discussion. The moderator sets the ground rules, norms for communication, and outlines what the consequences are for violating the rules.
If for nothing else – for the children that are watching and learning from the adults in the Zoom.
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