I’m sure Gavin McInnes is no stranger to the readers of this blog. I wrote a piece in April about the tragically misinformed Men’s Rights Movement, and he came up as a regular contributor to the blog Return of Kings and author of such scintillating reads as “Transphobia is Perfectly Natural.” As a men’s rights activist, Mr. McInnes believes that we live in a world of misandry, perpetrated by the shadowy forces of an Illuminati-esque feminist movement. To quote Cher in the timeless classic Clueless, “As if!” But Mr. McInnes seems to be branching out. No longer limiting himself to soothing the injured pride of fragile masculinity at the expense of the rights and dignity of women, homosexuals, and the trans community, he has decided to take on the concept of white privilege. The result is utter drivel (I know, I’m shocked).
Quite recently, Mr. McInnes embarked on a photography project. Cyber space was graced with the results of his hard work and creativity, pictures of white people cuffed, gagged, or otherwise restrained, accompanied by the hashtag #TakeUsDown. The logic behind this campaign? To address the fact that White Americans, especially men, are the cause of all racially motivated prejudice and discrimination in this country, and that they deserve to be taken down. This hashtag quickly went viral among white power movements, which decided to add to this worthy cause their own embellishments. And so, hashtags such as #AwayWithUs, #WeWhitesDeserveToDie, #BlacksKillUsNow, and #WeWillHangOurselvesForBlacks. According to Vocativ, a user of these hashtags described them as “funny, fair, and actually brilliant.” Correction, the invention of modern air travel and Girl Scout Cookies was brilliant. The trivializing of the suffering of human beings, not so much.
But that is exactly what it does. These hashtags, and the campaign in general, serve to trivialize the Black Lives Matter campaign and the struggle for equality and liberation in a country riven with inequities. This campaign mocks the concept of white privilege, and negates the achingly slow progress made in engaging wider American society in conversations about race relations. It allows White America to laugh, and turn away from the uncomfortable and much needed process of soul searching. While we could dismiss this campaign, and what it represents as belonging to a minority of people, I have my reservations about such comforting thoughts.
First of all, the misappropriation of the Black Lives Matter campaign is all too widespread. I was wandering through the gay district of San Francisco last night with a group of friends when we stopped to buy what one of my friends promised me to be the best cookies in the world. While waiting in line to purchase these divine creations, we came across a poster featuring an animation of two burly men – one black, the other white – embracing. The poster itself was promoting safe sex, a worthy cause, but what was insulting about it was that the white male was sporting a tattoo that read, “Black C*cks Matter.” Yet another example of the mainstream queer community’s utter disregard for other minority identities, and proof that White America is still not ready to take the very real suffering of POC seriously.
While such garbage is the brainchild of a white supremacist minority, who no one can count on to change, their ideologies carry the very real harm of influencing the uninformed moderates. People who could be induced to support the racial equality movement were they to be educated can now turn to the more digestible and (to them) appealing messaging of white supremacy movements. This is why regressive and dangerous campaigns like #TakeUsDown need to be taken down.