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Friday, October 28, 2016

This is a column about three words of moral cowardice:

“All lives matter.”

Those words have risen as a kind of counter to “Black lives matter,” the movement that coalesced in response to recent killings and woundings of unarmed African-Americans by assailants — usually police officers — who often go unpunished. Mike Huckabee raised that counter-cry last week, telling CNN, “When I hear people scream ‘black lives matter,’ I’m thinking, of course they do. But all lives matter. It’s not that any life matters more than another.”

As if that were not bad enough, the former Arkansas governor and would-be president upped the ante by adding that Martin Luther King would be “appalled by the notion that we’re elevating some lives above others.”

“Elevating some lives.” Lord, have mercy.

Imagine for a moment that you broke your left wrist. In excruciating pain, you rush to the emergency room for treatment only to run into a doctor who insists on examining not just your mangled left wrist, but your uninjured right wrist, rib cage, femur, fibula, sacrum, humerus, phalanges, the whole bag of bones that is you. You say, “Doc, it’s just my left wrist that hurts.” And she says, “Hey, all bones matter.”

If you understand why that remark would be factual, yet also fatuous, silly, patronizing and off point, then you should understand why “All lives matter” is the same. It’s not about “elevating some lives” any more than it would be about elevating some bones. Rather, it’s about treating where it hurts.

And as for Dr. King: I cringe at his name being invoked by yet another conservative who has apparently never heard or read anything King said with the possible exception of the last few minutes of the “I Have A Dream” speech. No one with the slightest comprehension of what King fought for could seriously contend he would be “appalled” at a campaign geared to the suffering of African-American people.

Whose rights did the Montgomery bus boycott seek to vindicate? For whose freedom was King jailed in Birmingham, punched in Selma and stoned in Chicago? In his book Why We Can’t Wait, King answered complaints that we shouldn’t be doing something special for “the Negro” by noting that, “our society has been doing something special against the Negro for hundreds of years.”

Does that sound like someone who’d be “appalled” by “Black lives matter”?

No, that cry would likely resonate for him for the same reason it resonates for so many others. Namely because, while police abuse is not unknown in other lives, it is disproportionate in black lives. This is what Huckabee and the “All lives matter” crowd quail at recognizing. To treat where it hurts, one must first acknowledge that it still hurts, something conservatives often find hard to do because it gives the lie to their self-congratulatory balloon juice about how this country has overcome its founding sin.

That sort of willful ignorance has unfortunately become ubiquitous.

Which is why, for me, at least, the most inspiring sight to come out of Charleston following the racial massacre there was not the lowering of the Confederate battle flag, welcome as that was. Rather, it was a march through town by a mostly white crowd chanting, “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!” To see those white sisters and brothers adopt that cry was a soul-filling reminder that at least some of us still realize we all have access — connection — to each other’s pain and joy by simple virtue of the fact that we all are human.

God love them, they did not slink guiltily from that connection. Instead, they ran bravely to it.

And you know what, Mike Huckabee? Martin Luther King would have been pleased.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected])

  • Dominick Vila

    Mike Huckabee, like the rest of the Republican candidates who see their chances of being nominated going up in the air as a result of Trump’s popularity, is resorting to desperation to remain viable. Black lives matter because they are being taken away, often by those who are expected to protect and enforce our laws, not because ALL lives matters, which is an irrelevant assertion when we consider that only certain groups in our society are being targeted.
    Mike may remember what he said when he, and others like him, volunteer expectant mothers to die after doctors concluding that the only way to save their lives is to terminate a pregnancy. Mike should also remind Dr. Carson that targeting illegal immigrants with drones negates claims of human values, and should inform The Donald that mass deportations, and punishing children born and educated in the USA for the decisions made by their parents is not what this country stands for. Yes, all lives matter, but since not ALL lives are being threatened we can only focus on those whose lives are being terminated as a result of intense racial and cultural hatred, by people who more often than not are never punished or even reprimanded for their crimes.
    Buying votes by telling bigots what they want to hear is not the way to go Mike. Give it up!

    • jmprint

      Well MIke’s statement can be used against him as well, Jesus Christ would be “appalled by the notion that we’re degrading some lives above others.”

  • Daniel Jones

    Dear Mike:
    If all lives matter, please stop promising wars certain to take them and abortion policies that will cost women their lives.
    Common Sense (who misses you)

  • Otto Greif

    People are tired of blacks whining.America elected a black President with the hope his example would make blacks behave better, instead they are behaving worse.

    • JPHALL

      You bigots are so sad! All races have a criminal class. But you bigots only focus on the Black criminal class. And that is because Black criminals are now targeting you. Get over your bigotry and join the rest of America in fighting the criminals.

      • Otto Greif

        Blacks commit crimes at a much higher rate than whites. No one makes excuses for white criminals.

        • JPHALL

          Get your facts straight. Blacks are arrested and convicted more often, not for committing the most crimes. It has been proven that many of the arrests were bogus.
          Subject: Re: Comment on ‘All Lives Matter’ — Words Of Moral Cowardice

          • Otto Greif

            It’s a fact they are arrested and convicted more because they commit more crimes than whites do, you can verify this fact with Obama’s Dept. of Justice.

          • JPHALL

            No, you should try to confirm what you have posted. Less than 40% of crimes committed and convicted are by Blacks. Look it up.
            Subject: Re: Comment on ‘All Lives Matter’ — Words Of Moral Cowardice

          • Otto Greif

            Blacks are 12% of the population. Learn how to do grade school math. Blacks commit more total murders than whites do, that’s how criminal they are.

          • JPHALL

            Read your original post. You said nothing about crime per percentage of the population. You are the one with faulty arithmetic. As a percentage of overall crime, Blacks represent less than 40% Subject: Re: Comment on ‘All Lives Matter’ — Words Of Moral Cowardice

          • Independent1

            Actually of all crime, blacks commit about 23% and Hispanics about 13% with Whites committing 57% and “other” which are mostly unconfirmed Whites commit about 7%. And with respect to blacks, 66% of the crimes they commit are against other blacks.

          • JPHALL

            He was using the Black percentage of US population to say that Blacks commit more crimes.
            Subject: Re: Comment on ‘All Lives Matter’ — Words Of Moral Cowardice

          • Independent1

            Yes, he’s clearly a super racist who deliberately fails to acknowledge that the main reason blacks get involved in more crimes than what may be the usual number for their share of the population, is partly because of the racism that especially his ilk constantly dump on them and partly the fact that although the overall unemployment rate is about 5.5%; for blacks the unemployment rate is over 20% – and it’s not hard to get yourself in a lot of trouble when you have a lot of time on your hands because your not working and on top of that, are having trouble just getting enough food to just stay alive and being able to keep a roof over your head.

          • Independent1

            You really need to get your facts straight lowlife:

            Actually of all crime, blacks commit about 23% and Hispanics about 13% with Whites committing 57% and “other” which are mostly unconfirmed Whites commit about 7%. And with respect o blacks, 66% of the crimes they commit are against other blacks.

            Blacks actually commit very little crime against whites as do Hispanics.

          • Otto Greif

            FBI Table 43 (2013):
            Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter: Blacks 52.2%.
            Rape: Blacks 31.3%.
            Aggravated assault: Blacks 33.9%
            Robbery: Blacks 56.4%

            Remember, blacks are only 12% of the population.

          • Independent1

            What did you do lowlife, searched through the FBI tables until you could find one where the blacks looked bad?? Those statistics you have are only for a fraction of the crimes committed – and most likely, close to 70% of them were black on black crimes.

            And the FBI’s statistics are really questionable in the 1st place – given that submitting reports to the FBI is not mandatory, and here’s an article from Faux News showing that hundreds maybe more murders committed by the police, and who knows how many other white on white crimes have never gotten reported to the FBI. (You can be sure if a black or Hispanic had been involved it would be reported – but white on white, especially if they’re people the cops know – who knows whether they ever got reported!!!)

            From Fox News:

            Hundreds of homicides committed by police reportedly not included in national crime statistics.

            Police in Washington did not report any details about any homicides to the FBI for an entire decade starting in 1998; the same year the Washington Post revealed the city had one of the highest officer-involved killings in the country.

            National statistics show that hundreds of homicides committed by law-enforcement officers between 2007 and 2012 were not recorded in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, the Wall Street Journal reports.

            More than 550 homicides committed by police during that period were missing, the paper reports. The lack of complete data makes it impossible to accurately determine how many people police kill each year.

            Local police departments are not required to participate in the FBI’s uniform crime reporting program. Some agencies tend to not report the killings, Bureau of Justice statistician Alexia Cooper told the journal. Nearly 800 agencies reported about 2,400 killings by police, while more than 18,000 other departments did not report any


          • Otto Greif

            Those are accurate crime statistics, and those are the sorts of crimes people care about. You can’t seriously believe thousands of white on white murders are going unreported. I don’t understand why you think the crime doesn’t count if it was “black on black”.

          • Independent1

            What hogwash!! Those numbers I quoted you are White-related crime – and more than 60% of crime committed against whites is committed by Whites. And very little black crime on whites is violent. Anytime that a black would kill a white, or do something really violent, it would be splashed all over the national news AND YOU KNOW THAT!! Your comment about – those are the sorts of crime people care about – is complete stupidity!! The vast majority of that black violent crime is committed against other blacks in inner city ghettos, and whites couldn’t care less about the carnage that goes on there!! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU’RE KIDDING LOWLIFE!!

          • Otto Greif

            Not “hogwash”, facts, from the FBI. You can verify it yourself.


            Remember, blacks are only 12% of the population, and that whites avoid blacks. The liberal mainstream media avoids covering black on white crimes, because it does not fit the narrative they are pushing.

          • Independent1

            Sorry those are totally bogus numbers – you really need to stop looking at racist RWNj websites – the black on black crime piece is at least 66%. Sorry NOT BUYING YOUR CHART FOR ONE MINUTE!!!

          • Otto Greif

            That’s FBI data. Stop denying reality.

          • Independent1

            And how many crimes did this 12% commit – that fake pie chart shows nothing about that – is it 20 crimes?? What a farce, that chart proves absolute nothing those are simply the splits of the who knows how many crimes!!!

          • Otto Greif

            You’re calling FBI data fake, and you’re blaming rape and murder victims for what black thugs do. You are a truly disgusting person.

          • Max_

            Because s/he’s a idiot, that God didn’t give the sense he gave a sucking calf..

          • Otto Greif

            He seems unhinged.

          • Max_


  • MistressTime

    It depends on who you hang around with. The people I hang around with are tired of self satisfied white folk complaining about the President and their intolerance for just about everyone but white middle class men.

  • Jef Peace

    Using the word “coward” has become fashionable. Very seldom do I find it’s use apropos and this article is no different. Stating one’s opinion is not cowardice, it is simply stating one’s opinion. I’m really angry that the author has put me in a position where I feel compelled to defend someone I despise, but Huckabee’s use of the phrase “all lives matter” is not cowardice … does the author own a dictionary? All lives do matter and lives are not metaphors, they are lives. White people, brown people, yellow people and red people are being killed by rogue cops as well as black people but these incidents simply aren’t “juicy” enough to enter the public arena via the Media. The problem is not that black people are being killed by cops, the problem is that there are unfit cops out there killing innocent people. The problem is not that blacks are victimized, the problem is that we see skin color at all. Now, go ahead and flame on, I’m used to it, but be aware you’re flaming a genuine human mutt with the blood of almost every race running through his veins.