The Current Protest Has Much More in Common with the BLM Movement*


*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

Mikhail Gurevich — on the topic of the U.S. campus riots.

The recent protests by American students were preceded by months of preparation. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the protesters consulted experienced activists and representatives of radical movements — for example, the Black Panther Party organization, famous in the 1980s, and a modern one, National Students for Justice in Palestine. Campuses of prestigious American universities were occupied by young people last week, who were outraged by the Israeli operation in Gaza. Protests escalated to a new level after the U.S. approved a new aid package to Jerusalem. Kommersant’s columnist Mikhail Gurevich found unexpected historical parallels with other American protests.

While the police are dispersing student encampments, more and more politicians and public opinion leaders in the U.S. are trying to analyze these protests and the consequences they will lead to. It’s believed that the current events are the direct continuation of the anti-war campaign of the end of the 1960s, when young Americans protested against the war in Vietnam. This analogy is a favorite of the proponents of pro-Palestine groups. The immediate analogies are “flower children,” the motto “Make love, not war” and the famous “Bed-ins for peace” campaign, in which newlyweds John Lennon and Yoko Ono participated.

However, the comparison with the hippie revolution is seriously lacking. There’s not much creativity going on in front of American universities, mass salah prayers are being held instead of rock concerts; it’s also hard to call slogans such as demanding an intifada or “Palestine from the river to the sea” peaceful. The current protests have much more in common with the Black Lives Matter movement. The same confrontational tactics, rejection of any form of dialogue, and, of course, post-colonial theory and woke culture as a cure for all problems.

As Elon Musk aptly noted, today, just as during the time of BLM, the idea is being pushed that weak means good and strong, therefore, means bad.

So it turns out that diligence, success, development — are all negative terms, since all of them lead to the fact that people become worse. So Hamas, which has destroyed the economy in Gaza and spent all international organizations’ money to produce missiles, is the shining beacon of humanity. While Israel with its strong economy and army is the universal evil.

And, once again, the topic of the original sin of the white man is being put forward — albeit with a small but curious nuance. If, within the BLM movement, light-skinned participants had to atone for the sins of their oppressor ancestors, in the current case they are offered some sort of indulgence. In essence, organizers from the ranks of Islamists tell the students: “Your fathers and grandfathers oppressed us, but leave your self-reproach, let us hate Jews together, especially Zionists, because today they are those white colonizers.” It’s hard to imagine a deal more beneficial for a young man craving justice.

And the last, but, perhaps, most important detail, to which American commentators draw their attention, is that, just as it was a couple of years ago, the protesters first of all tear down national flags from their flagpoles. But if, during the BLM time they simply trampled over the torn-down flags, today they replace them with Palestinian symbols. They are as ready to loudly scream “Death to America!” as they’re ready to chant “Death to Israel!” That’s definitely not what the founding fathers dreamed of, whose monuments today are being dressed in keffiyehs and hijabs.

Nonetheless, there’s one thing that really does resemble the protests against the war in Vietnam — the age of the participants. Slightly more than 50 years ago, many also performed funeral services for the U.S. and the West in general. Then these students grew up, had families, and today are much more conservative than they were in their youth. The modern protesters will also grow up. That’s dialectic, you know.

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About Artem Belov 83 Articles
Artem Belov is a TESOL-certified English teacher and a freelance translator (Russian>English and English>Russian) based in Australia but currently traveling abroad. He is working on a number of projects, including game localization. You can reach him at belov.g.artem@gmail.com

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