This is a little Celebrity Left thing I call distributed co-opting:
Fearless and adversarial critic of Eric Holder and state power says:
Great passionate coverer of police abuse & race says:
Here are some other things King has said:
I respect vets. My brother served 3 tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. I also respect capitalism and profit.
In a free market economy, when something is BROKEN, entrepreneurs create new products and services to replace the broken ones. #NewPolice
Signal boosting people to the right of his reputation is something Greenwald does a lot.
In addition to stumping for militarism, capitalism, privatization, and top cop Eric Holder, King is a prolific contributor at the Democratic partisan blog, DailyKos. So a boost for King is a boost for Kos, and a boost for the popular Kos is indisputably a boost for the Democratic Party.
No doubt this order of things greatly pleases the brass at ubiquitous astroturf firm Fitzgibbon Media, since The Intercept, DailyKos and a shit-ton of Democratic astroturf organizations are clients. Fitzgibbon also has its hand in Black Lives Matter via Andy Stepanian, a Senior Media Relations Director, who volunteers for BLM group, Hands Up United.
There are synergies galore!
Greenwald and King make a nice match. Both respect capitalism and profit. Both are quite open to private sector solutions for abusive state power. So it’s fitting that in addition to promoting King on Twitter, Greenwald has joined him on the board of Justice Together, a new organization whose self-proclaimed mission is “ending police brutality in America.” DeRay McKesson, another highly popular advocacy journalist closely tied to Black Lives Matter, is also on the board.
Over the past year, King and McKesson have become two of the predominate online conduits for the BLM movement, each with a Twitter following exceeding 100k. They stand out from the rest for the usual reasons: ample time for tweeting, writing and appearing; deftness with the politics of social networks; and most crucially, signal boosting by mainstream media and their high status representatives on Twitter. Their somewhat mysterious funding sources also play a decisive role, since funding enables them to broadcast more than people who do it for free.
As you might expect from a winnowing process ultimately adjudicated by funding sources and mainstream media, these men have all the qualities that process invariably rewards: indeterminate politics that, when they reveal themselves at all, look like a pastiche of liberal and libertarian; a rhetorical emphasis on description vs. prescription; and a reluctance to grapple seriously with root causes.
McKesson is the more militant of the two, and is an impressively able and quick-witted spokesperson, particularly on television. He even hazards the occasional poke at capitalism, insisting that it is a by-product of white supremacy, mostly when interlocutors insist it is the other way around. This is fairly typical:
racism is deeper than capitalism, though capitalism is the clearest manifestation.
But lest anyone get any ideas about seriously integrating the two concerns in Black Lives Matter, McKesson offers the same reassurances as King:
nobody said anything about taking away capitalism…
Before he became a voice for Black Lives Matter, McKesson was a school administrator in Minneapolis, having entered education through Teach For America, a model of neoliberal progressivism. TFA is the bête noire of teacher’s unions for its program of placing new graduates with little training in low-paying, non-union jobs alongside, or even as replacements for, senior staff. DeRay also enjoys Glenn Greenwald’s patronage.
The rest of the Justice Together board is interesting mostly for what it lacks. There are seemingly no Black scholars or activists who had dedicated their lives to racial justice before BLM. Equally absent — somewhat unsurprisingly — is any representation from young, ground-level, militant Black Lives Matter activists like Tef Poe, Ashley Yates and Tory Russell. Representation from victims of police brutality or their families seems equally nonexistent. The only board member that seems like a natural fit is Benjamin Crump, a lawyer known for high visibility pro bono cases with civil rights implications. Apart from celebrities Anika Noni Rose, Regina King and Gabrielle Union, the rest of the board’s orientation is toward Silicon Valley and neoliberal volunteerism. To wit:
Keisha Senter, a senior Associate Director at the Rockefeller Foundation and an alum of the Clinton Global Initiative and Democratic think tank The Center for American Progress;
Jay Cranman, VP of Corporate Partnerships for Points of Light, an organization named for G. H. W. Bush’s famous speech touting volunteerism as the solution to the country’s great problems;
Alida Garcia, Coalitions and Policy Director for fwd.us, an organization founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Sean Parker and other technology leaders to “give [their] values a voice in American politics.” Garcia was a Deputy Director for Obama’s 2012 campaign. Her boss at fwd.us is Todd Schulte, former chief of staff for Priorities, a SuperPac for Obama’s reelection.
David Heinemeier Hansson, multimillionaire partner at tech company 37 Signals and race car driver.
Lane Wood, tech management specialist with experience in socially conscious business. Currently CMO of app company Humint.
Rashad Drakeford, Director, Brand & Integrated Marketing at REVOLT Media & TV. REVOLT is a music-oriented cable network founded by Sean “Diddy” Colmes.
Clint Smith, a poet and Teach For America recruit.
It doesn’t exactly evoke I Have a Dream, does it, unless by Dream you mean corporate sponsorship. From a brief perusal of the new organization’s web site, it appears to follow the topdown organizing model used by peerless astroturfer and Fitzgibbon client MoveOn and its many imitators: interested parties make themselves available to take instructions from impersonal, largely unaccountable leadership.
There isn’t even the pretense of democracy. Justice Together launched with its board in place and it’s unlikely there will be elections when and if any members leave. Considering the liberal/libertarian hash that has come to dominate the high-profile face of Black Lives Matter and the makeup of its board it’s quite possible JusticeTogether won’t be as traditionally partisan as Move On, but it will doubtlessly be equally adroit at keeping any ideas that don’t sit too comfortably with mainstream politics out. Clinton is obviously making a play for BLM, so it can’t hurt that the board is is well-seasoned with alums from the Obama campaign and her husband’s Global Initiative.
By the group’s account, it has two objectives, setting up “deeply focused policy coalitions in all fifty states + Washington DC” and to “tell better, deeper, richer, more nuanced stories about victims of police brutality/violence, their families, and the brave women and men fighting for a better America.”
In keeping with the astroturf topdown organizing model, the website decrees that on August 28th they will “announce the first actions of our coalitions.” The extent to which these local coalitions will determine what these local actions are is an open question, but if they are sticking to the MoveOn model, local decision-making won’t count for a lot.
No doubt every action will be resplendent with the same slick logos, slogans, talking points and demands, if any. There will doubtlessly be no risk of embarrassment for any pol taking part, and radicals foolish enough to get involved , will no doubt endure the same libels and ridicule “community leaders” and professional opinion havers have heaped on them since the early days in Ferguson.
Despite the heavy-hitters on its board, Justice Together, by virtue of its bland, corporate quality, has the makings of a flop. There is nonetheless some useful instruction as to who wants to shape Black Lives Matter and how. It’s as lacking in promise as it is predictably banal.