The MLK-BLM Nobel Peace Prize Parallel

Eight months after the George Floyd tragedy shifted global focus to race relations, a primary driver of that shift, Black Lives Matter (BLM), has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The Rationale and Controversy Behind the BLM Nomination

The BLM movement nomination comes by way of socialist and Norwegian Parliament member Petter Eide. Eide explains his rationale in his nomination papers as reported by The Guardian,

…one of the key challenges we have seen in America, but also in Europe and Asia, is the kind of increasing conflict based on inequality…Black Lives Matter has become a very important worldwide movement to fight racial injustice. They have had a tremendous achievement in raising global awareness and consciousness about racial injustice.

they have been able to mobilise people from all groups of society, not just African-Americans, not just oppressed people, it has been a broad movement, in a way which has been different from their predecessors.

Awarding the peace prize to Black Lives Matter, as the strongest global force against racial injustice, will send a powerful message that peace is founded on equality, solidarity and human rights, and that all countries must respect those basic principles.

Despite Eide’s lofty reasoning, the nomination has not remained uncontested.

Several outlets (notably The Post Millennial, the New York Post, and the Washington Examiner) raised objections based on the chaotic and grisly outcomes of several Black Lives Matter events.

The 100+ days of rioting in Portland, string of deaths during the riots, at least $1 billion in property damage following the riots, and clashes with police were the chief incidents cited against BLM.

Eide accounted for these criticisms by referencing the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) study which found that roughly 93% of the 7,750+ documented Black Lives Matter demonstrations were without violence and/or destruction.

Similarities to the MLK Nobel Victory

The conundrum between bringing attention to a societal ill versus spurring unrest was also a heated topic concerning the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Martin Luther King Jr..

While MLK won the award based off “his non-violent struggle for civil rights for the Afro-American population,” conventional history often omits the faults of that decision.

In a 1964 Manchester Union Leader article titled King: No Help to Peace, the iconoclastic George Schuyler presented his case against MLK winning the prize,

His incitement packed jails with Negroes and some whites, getting them beaten, bitten and firehosed, thereby bankrupting communities, raising bail and fines, to the vast enrichment of Southern law and order.

With his omnipresent bench men, Dr. King persistently entered cities (Albany Ga., Birmingham Ala., and St. Augustine, Fla.), after local Negro leadership had begged them to get lost. In none of them was anything gained.

Possibly his only meritorious service was in directing the Montgomery bus strike ― and that was won by the much-derided NAACP legalism which ended Jim Crow bus service everywhere by federal court order.

After this “nonviolent” crash program ended with crashing store windows and rifling of goods, Reverend Doctor joined other self-styled Negro leaders in suspending all demonstrations. He was one of the engineers of the midsummer madness in Mississippi which ended not in peace but in arrests, arson, and murder. Instead of improving race relations, they were worsened by these pixilated endeavors.

Implications

This biting rebuke of MLK’s track record (especially coming from a black contemporary) may come as a shock to the many who have only been exposed to the noble and courageous features of MLK’s history, but it raises an interesting question:

Will the present-time criticisms of the BLM movement be obscured from future generations as MLK’s Nobel Prize criticism has been obscured from this generation?

Although the collateral damage from the BLM demonstrations has been an unavoidable and relevant topic of public discourse at the current moment, that is not to say it will even be faintly mentioned in future recollections of events.

The overwhelming support of BLM from major media sources and influential firms alone hint at the strength of the pro BLM side. This is not to mention the amount of celebrities who contributed to bailing out BLM rioters.

Combined the lockstep effort of academia (where BLM historians are likely to come from) to suppress controversially contrarian viewpoints, it becomes clear how easily undesirable occurrences can be minimized or even completely removed from the dominant narrative. Historical revision or simple unwillingness to preserve unflattering facts could easily conceal critical points of view from even highly inquiring minds down the road.

If a true and comprehensive assessment of BLM is to withstand time, then there needs to be a persistent and long term effort in assuring that even the most unsettling information isn’t eschewed.


Photo by BP Miller on Unsplash

Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash

One thought

  1. Valuable commentary, John, especially your quotation of George Schuyler’s iconoclastic take on MLK. Odder than awarding it to Obama BEFORE he he had done anything as president is bestowing it on BLM AFTER their record of violence and intimidation has been established.

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