Commentary: If you have to ask what Black Lives Matter is, then you really don’t care

By Francis A. Bethel III

Black Lives Matter doesn’t have anything to do with the disapproval rating of Donald Trump (Frank Daniels’ question “What is Black Lives Matter?” July 24). If anyone is a Marxist and an anarchist (yes, I do know the meanings), it’s Trump and his enablers in the Senate who have, time after time, turned a blind eye to his autocratic, demagogic, authoritarian way of ruining this country.

Francis A. Bethel III

I have the utmost respect for you, Mr. Daniels, for serving your country as a retired colonel. What is disappointing to me is the fact that you still support this man after he’s used the military as a political stunt when he had them gas and clear out innocent protesters, just so he could do a photo op in front of a church. Trump has all but turned his back on not only the military itself by not taking the bounty attacks from Russia seriously, but he’s also turned his back on us as Americans during the coronavirus, by not listening to the scientists or anyone in his administration who repeatedly tried to warn him of the coming pandemic as many as a dozen times between January and February. Even some military retirees are now putting ads out against Trump to get him out of office. He is the most dangerous, incompetent, ignorant and worst president this country has ever had in the whole history of the United States of America — by far!

Black Lives Matter is not doing anything to Trump that he’s not already doing to himself. So, let’s not blame Trump’s ineptitude on Black Lives Matter. He has single-handedly destroyed the moral fabric of this country and distanced us from our allies while continuing to sow the seeds of racism and division.

Joe Biden will not destroy our neighborhoods and suburbs like Trump claims. The truth of the matter is that the president is losing suburban white voters. This is why he’s trying desperately to paint a picture of fear and trouble. However, that 2016 playbook of law and order and paranoia is not going to work on the majority of Americans who see Trump for what he really is: a shallow, weak and insecure man who has the attention span of a 3-year-old.

Trump has quit on this country at a time when we need real leadership. As of this writing, he still has no federal plan on how to combat the virus. Why doesn’t he attack the coronavirus like he attacked the peaceful protesters in Portland, Oregon, or in other cities? He is a coward who will not accept responsibility for anything and blames everything and everyone else for things that happened on his watch.

At least Joe Biden has some sense. He is compassionate, he listens, and he understands the needs of the American people! He will unify us, not tear us apart, unlike Trump, who only cares about Trump and what will be best for Trump.

He’s already trying to sow seeds of doubt about the election, due to increased mail-in ballots. Now he’s saying that he doesn’t know if he will accept the results if he loses. So we need to make sure that we see what he will do when he loses. We need to completely destroy him at the polls or by mail-in ballots, so that there is no doubt that he has to go!

Although I’m disappointed in the fact that a former military man like Mr. Daniels supports Trump, it doesn’t really surprise me. It doesn’t surprise me that the president still has his die-hard base standing by him no matter how racist and divisive he is. A lot of his base wants to go back to the “good old days” of the ’50s and ’60s, maybe even further.

Let’s journey back so we can see why we are where we are today in regard to Black Lives Matter.

There’s a racial caste system that’s been going on since slavery, to Jim Crow, to mass incarceration today. The more times change, the more things stay the same for Black Americans. The structure and content of the original Constitution was to preserve slavery, while, at the same time, affording political and economic rights to whites, especially propertied whites. The Southern slaveholding colonies would agree to form a union only on the condition that the federal government would not interfere with the right to own slaves. Northern white elites were sympathetic to the demand for their property rights to be respected, so they wanted their property (slaves) protected. So, the Constitution was designed so the federal government would be weak, not only in its relationship to private property, but also in the relationship to the rights of states to conduct their own affairs. The language of the Constitution itself was deliberately colorblind. The words “Negro” or “slave” were never used. However, the document itself was designed for a compromise regarding the control of Blacks. Federalism (which is the division of power between the states and the federal government) was the device used to protect the institution of slavery and the political power of slaveholding states. Even identifying the winner of a presidential election (the Electoral College) was developed with the interest of slaveholders in mind.

Under the term of our country’s founding document, slaves (Blacks) were defined as three-fifths of a man, not a real, whole human being! I’m making a point as to why Black Lives Matter exists now. Black lives didn’t matter in the beginning, from 1619, through slavery, through the Jim Crow laws, and no, Black lives don’t matter to some people even in 2020.

Just take a look at all the Black men in some kind of prison system today. The war on drugs has put more Black people behind bars than for all other reasons combined. Drug arrests have tripled since 1980. More than 31 million people have been arrested for a drug offense, the majority of them Black. Once released from prison, they are reduced to not even second-class status, but a permanent underclass status in life. No really good job opportunities, no voting rights or housing assistance or any kind of government benefits. Let’s not even get into the countless acts of police brutality and violence against Blacks, which is one reason why Black Lives Matter formed. This is what it means to be Black in America.

Slavery defined what it meant to be Black (a slave), and Jim Crow defined what it meant to be Black (a second-class citizen). Today’s mass incarceration defines the meaning of Blackness in America: Black people, especially Black men, are seen as criminals. This is what it means to be Black in America.

The good news is that the majority of our country is made up of people who really want change. The majority of our country realizes that all lives will never really matter until Black lives do really matter.

Those “good old days” are gone, aren’t they, Mr. Daniels?

Francis A. Bethel III is a veteran of the U.S. Army and a Kraft Foods retiree after 32 years. He resides in Dover.