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Opinion newsletter: On ‘gentrifying’ Black Lives Matter

Portland
A Black Lives Matter protest July 20 in Portland, Ore.
(Getty Images)

Good morning (even if it doesn’t feel like morning, because this is the start of among the most hellishly hot weekends on record). I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. Let’s say a prayer to the electricity gods for uninterrupted AC operation, then take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Let’s immediately get the biggest elephant in the room out of the way: President Trump is desperate and unglued, peddling any conspiracy theory, pandering to the most extreme cultists of his base, uttering any nonsense to sow confusion and anger over an election that increasingly looks beyond his reach if it is conducted fairly. In the Opinion section this week, columnist Harry Litman expressed alarm over the president’s support for pro-Trump vigilantes, and deputy editorial page editor Jon Healey asked conservatives if they’re really OK with the president taking over local law enforcement in areas he deems “lawless.”

What the president calls lawlessness many of us would call a proportionate reaction to the recent police shootings of Dijon Kizzee and Jacob Blake and to the recently released video of Rochester, N.Y., police brutalizing and then suffocating Daniel Prude, a Black man they had already placed in handcuffs. If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed that masses of white people have been participating in the most widely covered protests, a development that Opinion contributor Erin Aubry Kaplan described in June as “a change for the good.”

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But also if you’re like me, you’ve had the inscrutable sense that something about these white-dominated Black Lives Matter demonstrations (and yard signs in largely white neighborhoods that, last I checked, were still pretty segregated) was ... problematic. The L.A. Times’ Erin Logan brilliantly articulates this uneasy feeling, describing the marches against police violence and systemic racism against Blacks as being “gentrified” by white people. Logan’s whole piece is worth reading; I strongly suggest you do that.

But there’s also a white backlash against Black Lives Matter. Media coverage of the movement surged along with support for it after white people saw the video of George Floyd’s suffocation and discovered, seemingly for the first time, that police were brutalizing Black people. Since then, coverage has focused on the unrest, resulting in declining approval for Black Lives Matter and, as columnist Robin Abcarian puts it, a greater “desire to explain away horrific police behavior.” L.A. Times

The coronavirus is still a thing, even if the Trump administration doesn’t think so. The White House has a new pandemic advisor, Dr. Scott Atlas — a physician, yes, but a radiologist, not an epidemiologist — who has pitched his “herd immunity” approach on Fox News, giving him the ear of the president. The L.A. Times Editorial Board puts the herd-immunity strategy in layman’s terms as “risking the lives of millions of people and allowing millions more to become gravely ill and potentially suffer complications for the rest of their lives.” L.A. Times

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Is the Trump Organization a mirage? As the president’s corporation comes under the microscope of the New York state attorney general, what has been described as Trump’s “business empire” appears more of a loose collection of rats’ nests populated by enablers and hangers-on who run the gamut from unethical accountants to convicted criminals, writes Virginia Heffernan. L.A. Times

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Can we stop talking about Nancy Pelosi’s hair? Well, no, which is why editorial writer Carla Hall penned a piece on the blowup over the speaker’s salon blowout that included perhaps the most nuanced, half-apologist, half-condemnation paragraph on the matter: “We should cut Pelosi some slack here. Well, I will. Because the day that she got her hair done, she went on MSNBC, and her hair looked great. And when she stood outside on a windy day to defend her blowout, her hair still looked great. And a woman on a stage — and that’s where politicians are today — wants her hair to look great because then it looks normal. And if it didn’t, she would hear about it. And then she’d have to talk about that.” L.A. Times

A Kennedy lost an election? In Massachusetts? In a year with little to celebrate, columnist Nicholas Goldberg regards as a welcome development the defeat of Senate candidate Joe Kennedy III in the Massachusetts Democratic primary. Why? In a country founded on the premise that leaders ought to rule not by birthright but by popular consent, too many political dynasties — the Kennedys, the Roosevelts, the Bushes, to name a few — fill our history books. L.A. Times

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