How The Radical Right Is Mansplaining Black Lives Matter

Radical right misogynists are falsely claiming the root cause of the Black Lives Matter protests isn't racial injustice, but fatherless homes.
Black Lives Matter Protest Times Square New York City – June 7, 2020. (Anthony Quintano/Creative Commons)

Black Lives Matter Protest Times Square New York City – June 7, 2020. (Anthony Quintano/Creative Commons)

Dr. Miranda Christou is a Senior Fellow at CARR and Associate Professor in Sociology of Education at the University of Cyprus.

The Black Lives Matter movement is monumental not only because it has challenged the significance of material monuments to historical racism, but also because it has sparked multiple globalized campaigns against all forms of discrimination and postcolonial bigotry. “I can’t breathe” is a symbol that transcends George Floyd’s murder in the hands of the police and has become a metaphor for racial injustice. Still, the radical and extreme right have deployed various tools to discredit the movement and its cause for police accountability and racial justice.

The first phenomenon was the emergence of radical right conspiracy theories about George Floyd’s death which ranged from arguing that the event took place before the pandemic to the ludicrous idea that this was a staged video. These theories suggest that the protests express not outrage against systemic injustice but are somehow guided, funded, and directed by “external” actors. Not surprisingly, Soros’ name pops up in these scenarios in a way that almost replicates coronavirus conspiracy theories.

The second approach was to claim that BLM marches are steered by Antifa something that caught the loosely connected members of anti-fascist groups by surprise. The repeated denouncements of “Antifa violence” became louder in early June and culminated with President Trump’s dubious declaration of Antifa as a terrorist organization.

Certainly, the history of anti-fascism and anarchism is complex but it soon became clear that the focus on Antifa was not simply a way to evade serious discussions of police brutality but a more problematic diversion tactic from the actual agents of violence. In fact, the so-called Boogaloo Bois not only infiltrated BLM marches and willfully participated in destructive rioting, they also went as far as impersonating Antifa activists to use them as scapegoats for their vision of violence and destruction.

But perhaps the most ridiculous effort to discredit the BLM movement comes from mansplainer-in-chief Anthony Johnson who calls himself the first president of the manosphere. In “The Fatherless Rebellion,” a June episode of The Red Man Group, Johnson brought together a panel of “Red Pilled Men” to analyze what is going on with BLM protests.

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While expressing their shock, horror, and dismay at the scale of the movement and confessing that nothing like this has ever happened in their lifetimes, the panelists proceeded to mansplain the phenomenon in three main points:

  1. They argued that BLM protesters grew up in fatherless homes; something that Red Pilled Men understand as the sad aftermath of feminism’s “shenanigans in family court.” Johnson, who uses “Dream” as his middle name, propped up “The Feminist Lie” book and maintained that it can explain a lot of the “shit show” that is going on right now. The panelists said that being raised by a single mother provides no structure and produces undisciplined children because “women are slaves to their emotion.” Thus, the “adult children” rioting at the BLM events behave as such because they lack masculine role models that are only possible in a patriarchal society. The panelists feared that these “under-fathered” kids are either going to find their place in society or burn the place down. One of them articulated it as follows: “This is not about an individual getting killed by the police. Not even about police brutality itself. This is about … burning down the society they can’t be a part of.”
  2. The panelists agreed that President Trump is a “real man,” his popularity is increasing and the various impeachment efforts are simply making him stronger. They believe that he will win in a landslide because “women need strong men, they are not attracted to weak men.”
  3. On the question of civil war, the panel agreed that, whatever the outcome, November 4th will be a violent day. They provided personal evidence that everyone is “gunning up” for such a clash. On how to deal with “the mob” Anthony Dream volunteered the following: “you get on the roof and use the mag… you do it Korean style, those rooftop Koreans.” The sum-up of how the panel redefined a racial justice issue into a gender war problem was the following: “The real civil war is going to be between the masculine and the feminine, not between black and white.”

The radical right manosphere is turning the problem of racial justice and inequality into a psychological analysis of family and patriarchal belonging. Sharpe, the only black man on the panel, stated unequivocally that race issues are explained by the fact that the African American community is a matriarchy. He also tried at several points to argue that police racial bias is real, especially for black men, but kept getting pushback from Johnson who eventually said that the race stuff is interesting but he “really wanted to focus the show on fatherlessness and single-mother and stuff.” When Sharpe mentioned matriarchy Johnson promptly flashed a tweet by @JackNfortweets (a black man whose Twitter account is now suspended) which stated “If anything n*gg*s need more patriarchy in their souls.”

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Anthony Johnson is the co-founder of The 21 Convention (“The world’s ultimate convention for men”) which, this year, has been postponed to October 2020 and promises to restore Western masculinity through a pro-father, pro-patriarch event. It will run concurrently with The 22 Convention which is called, without irony, “the mansplaining event of the century” and aims to “Make Women Great Again” by featuring a long line of male speakers who will explain to the all-female audience how to behave in order to keep a (real) man in their lives. It will be interesting to see how his #Buildthepatriarchy campaign will engage with the question of BLM.

These manosphere interpretations of the BLM movement are not a sideshow to radical and extreme ideology but provide an important tool in understanding how racial injustice is erased by patriarchal grievances. The impact of BLM in initiating police reforms around the USA and revealing a multifaceted demographic of those who believe that racism is a problem has been remarkable. But the manosphere’s reaction confirms once more that the intersection of white supremacy and misogyny is crucial in understanding how the radical right perpetuates and justifies racism.

This article is brought to you by the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). Through their research, CARR intends to lead discussions on the development of radical right extremism around the world.

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Opinion // Black Lives Matter / CARR / Racism / Radical Right