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Liberalism won when it promised that no free man has to bow down to another. Cops prostrating for #BLM mobs are killing it

Guy Birchall
Guy Birchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Liberalism won when it promised that no free man has to bow down to another. Cops prostrating for #BLM mobs are killing it
Forget liberty and the sanctity of the individual. Police chiefs prostrating themselves before mobs seeking absolution for the sins of their race doesn’t heal divisions; it further fans the destructive flames of identity politics.

Liberalism, the philosophy that has ruled much of the world since the Age of Enlightenment, appears to be in its death throes, much to the delight of the anarchists and left-wingers burning down properties and toppling statues from Bristol to Minneapolis, and London to New York. 

Some political ideologies are harder to pin down than others, with perhaps those of the “middle ground” the most ephemeral of all. “Liberalism” is an extraordinarily broad term used to cover a variety of political and economic policies spanning the right-left spectrum. 

In the West, it can be used as a compliment or a pejorative depending on the context and there seems to be no clearly demarcated overarching philosophy it applies to. However, there always seemed to be one factor that was, for the most part, agreed upon when it came to liberalism: that every person was an individual and should be treated as such. 

This meant that no man should be compelled to bow to another based on some immutable characteristic or chance of birth. It meant that the sins of the father should not be visited on the son. It meant equality before the law and the freedom of choice.

These tenets have been behind all the great “liberal” changes in history: the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, ending apartheid, universal suffrage, the founding of the United States, and the breakup of the colonial empires of Europe. So why has the modern Western left abandoned them?

The left in the US and Europe are now obsessed with identity and privilege in a way that makes the Indian caste system look like a model of social mobility. Gone are the previously held beliefs in having a person judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. 

Now, to the ironically named “progressives,” skin color is just as important as it was in the Jim Crow South. Shamefully, public officials on both sides of the Atlantic have capitulated to this new, racist ideology and are debasing themselves in public to appease a baying mob. 

In a crowded field, perhaps the most sickening of these displays came courtesy of Michael Shaw, chief of police in Webster, Massachusetts. In front of a mob of protesters, a masked Chief Shaw prostrated himself on the pavement for eight minutes and 46 seconds (the time George Floyd’s neck was knelt on), as two demonstrators stood over him. 

If publicly humiliating himself is how Shaw likes to get his kicks, then he is free to do that on his own time. However, he should not be doing it in full uniform in his capacity as the chief of police.

The first and most obvious issue with this is that cops at protests are supposed to police the protests, not take part in them. The second problem is that his actions appear to indicate he is accepting responsibility for something, but it is not clear what that is. Was he suggesting he or his police force were in some way culpable for the actions of an officer in another state over a thousand miles away? Was he accepting the notion that the United States is an inherently and endemically racist country? Was he apologizing for being white?

If the answer is yes to any of these things, then liberalism is lost. Police in Massachusetts have no control over the actions of their colleagues in Minnesota. If he genuinely feels like the USA is a racist country, then why would he take an oath to uphold its laws? And if he’s apologizing for being white, what does that achieve? He can’t help his race any more than any of the Black Lives Matter protesters can.

For liberalism to survive, this racialization of politics from the left needs to be rejected just as the racialization of it from the right was in the 1960s. Allegations of “white privilege” are just as unhelpful as those of “black inferiority.” We need to go back to judging people as individuals, not on their perceived grouping. 

That is what Shaw appeared to be doing: in prostrating himself before the mob, he was accepting responsibility for his whiteness and the sins of all white people. The thought process behind that displays a baffling combination of arrogance and self-hatred that I am ill-equipped to perform the mental gymnastics to comprehend. 

Of course, Shaw wasn’t the only one to debase himself in this fashion. Canada’s prime minister and exotic makeup aficionado, Justin Trudeau, was filmed publicly taking a knee to join in the protest. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey took a knee at a BLM protest in his city, but was still booed out of the demonstration for refusing to defund the city’s police force. 

Across the pond in the UK, the police in Bristol and London failed to enforce social distancing guidelines and allowed wanton acts of vandalism to take place so they didn’t inflame tensions. Yet officers could also be seen contritely engaging in “taking a knee.” 

These displays do nothing to advance their supposed cause. The mobs that they are pandering to will always demand more once they have smelt such weakness, while the uglier elements on the other side will regard it as confirming their view that the elites are in thrall to a radical, far-left agenda that goes far beyond eradicating racism. 

None of this is liberalism. Collective guilt and justice are two of the most illiberal notions known to man. Making whites bow to people of color won’t right the wrongs of the past, it will simply create new ones. What is needed now is more people standing up for their rights and the rights of others. Kneeling for the wrongs of their forefathers achieves nothing.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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