In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Dallas and the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, much of the reaction has been highly polarized, with some people blaming Black Lives Matter protesters for supposedly inciting violence against police officers.
But it isn’t necessarily that simple, as Erin Simpson explained on Twitter:
I don't want black men shot at traffic stops. I don't want cops shot by snipers. I don't want kids shot at school. I don't want any of this.— EM Simpson (@charlie_simpson) July 8, 2016
The message here is clear: It is possible to oppose all forms of violence. People can oppose and want to prevent racial disparities in police use of force, violence against police officers, and mass shootings — all at the same time. It is not a simple either-or.
Unfortunately, the reality is that any movement against any kind of social or political injustice is always prone to having someone take things to a radical, potentially violent extreme. But such extremists shouldn’t be able to stifle what’s otherwise a legitimate criticism or valid political discourse.
As Kevin Drum, a blogger at Mother Jones, previously wrote:
People and groups have to be free to condemn abortion or police misconduct or anything else — sometimes soberly, sometimes not. And it's inevitable that this will occasionally inspire a maniac somewhere to resort to violence. There's really no way around this. It's obviously something for any decent person to keep in mind, but it doesn't make passionate politics culpable for the ills of the world. We can't allow the limits of our political spirit to be routinely dictated by the worst imaginable consequences.