Listening to Bret Weinstein talk about the Portland protests is simply weird. On his most recent podcast, he's spoken about how the protestors use divisive rhetoric that makes no room for building bridges for people that disagree with them.
That's a very reasonable point! Even the name of the protests, "Black Lives Matter" really ought to be "Black Lives Matter Too" (they do! That point is a good one!). That's what they mean, after all, that black lives also matter, you can't end the discussion before asserting that. But they chose something more disagreeable (not that "All Lives Matter"/"Blue Lives Matter" is a high-quality disagreement) because creating that conversation suited their interests more and matched better with their personal taste.
So, Weinstein said something, and I agree with a milder version of his point. Surely the podcast co-hosts brought this up because, for instance, the founders of Black Lives Matter are Marxists and say that's their ideological framework. That's not nothing, and is intensely offputting to a lot of people, and essentially irrelevant to preventing excessive use of force by police.
Nope. They were focusing solely on the protestors saying cops are pigs and bastards.
Now, look, you think you might know me, that I like when people are polite, and calling someone a pig and bastard isn't polite. But I'm here to zag on you today, because, especially in Portland (as they bring up in the podcast many times!) there is a relatively clear distinction between rioters and protestors. And yet there are hundreds of videos from around the country (many set in Portland) depicting police deploying absurdly excessive force against protestors doing nothing more than loitering.
If you reserve all of your criticism for people who are calling people bad names, but do not also note that clubbing, pepper spraying, and shooting people is a much worse breach of etiquette, that's pretty strange.
I don't mean this as whataboutism. I think it's okay to identify a problem in isolation, even when it's juxtaposed with a bigger problem. You aren't obligated to acknowledge that, although I'd recommend we do. No, I bring it up because of the extremely specific nature of their critique.
They said they weren't leaving room to build bridges, by calling bad names.
I'm guessing that they truly dislike the people beating them and their friends for little to no reason. Isn't that a coherent response? When you talk about trying to build bridges and generate a cooperative dialogue, it really does seem fair for that discussion to be symmetric. These protestors aren't saying "everyone who isn't at a protest is a pig and a bastard". They're failing to create this positive dialog with people who are hitting them with clubs. It's unlikely that conversation can occur until the police put the clubs down, so why do their signs matter?
Arrest people for arson. Arrest people for property damage. If you care about freedom, you shouldn't arrest reasonable protestors for disturbing the peace – but even that would be almost infinitely preferable to the status quo. Cops aren't professional bullies. Their job is to investigate crimes, then arrest and assist the prosecution of suspects. So let's not defend them shooting tear gas cannisters at people who violate city park availability hours regulations. It's grossly disproportionate. And we shouldn't assume that high quality conversations can happen unilaterally. The reason there's no good dialogue around Black Lives Matter (which is desperately needed!) is almost totally caused by police using excessive force on protestors. That it proves the protestors are on to something is just the ironic cherry on top. Their policy suggestions are extremely hit and miss, but criticism of BLM is borderline impossible in this climate. I want better public discussion. That means letting people protest without fear of violence. I don't see another path forward.