Words by: Eric July
“For example, when a cop shoots a black man you focus on the racism… ignoring all the statism / Holding signs, rioting is not about to save him ‘cause you must’ve forgot that that that’s the power that you gave them” – “Self Ownership” by BackWordz in 2016.
Imagine spending the last five years building a band from the ground up and releasing the first album right in the middle of an election cycle. And the political ideology and philosophy of the band is so much of an anomaly within the scene that it’s in, that it creates conflict and tension with other bands, fans, shot callers and pundits that exist within the same atmosphere.
Despite understanding this uphill battle, this band drops an 18-track album that has the theme of addressing the political and social landscape while being in opposition to a criminal institution known as the State. The band’s music, merchandise, posts and articles reflect the band’s libertarianism so the band is always being a part of some conversation that conflicts with the generally understood and accepted politics of the scene that is under the guise of “progressivism.”
Because the band’s philosophy threatens the institution that is used to fund or enforce the general politics and ideals of people within the scene, the scene defends the State against the band and its members.
This is my band. This is BackWordz.
But also imagine being the frontman of this band that also takes this philosophy in other realms such as TV, publication and digital spaces. Imagine doing this for nearly a full decade.
So not only have you written endless lyrics that warn against the dangers of the State and its aggression, you’ve appeared on various platforms with other audiences speaking about this specific problem. You’ve started one of the biggest libertarian publications dedicated to addressing the issues. You’ve traveled internationally, speaking about the problems at countless events.
And an unfortunate situation gets national attention as a man that is the same color as the frontman is slowly killed by the same institution you spoke against. But the same people that were defending the State and supported people that wanted to expand its reach, are now concerned with the “injustices” faced by people that are of the same race of the frontman. I am that frontman.
It has been amazing to watch the bandwagon signaling of virtues, which isn’t at all limited to the scene that I’ve been referencing; this has been mimicked across a multitude of different genres and subcultures. People have been basically given ultimatums to speak up about injustices or make posts denouncing racism. Those that don’t participate in this hive are ostracized, ignored or most certainly berated.
Because he posted a picture that semi-knocked the silly black box posts this past Tuesday, I watched people pile on Cory Brandan of Norma Jean.
This is mob mentality and people are signaling to avoid those sociable consequences within their scene or to just appear as if they are one of the good guys.
I don’t at all feel this is genuine.
Do I believe that there are people that see there is an issue and possibly have their hearts in decent places? Absolutely. But we do not need to sit here and pretend as if the pressure is entirely absent nor do we need to act like the fundraising efforts aren’t to massage some people’s egos; this reeks of self-righteousness as I’m watching white guys in bands feel as if it’s in their power and responsibility to “do something.” And we most definitely cannot act like this doesn’t come with a particular group of allowable political positions.
I am not going to act as if BackWordz is the biggest band. We aren’t. Many people have never heard of us. There are people that know of me from political commentary and don’t even know I’m in a band. So, there are certainly bands that are more popular than us or worth noticing because of recent musical releases. But we do have some recognition and are recognizable to many people within this scene.
To all of those that do know of us, toured with us and exchanged with us, none of them ever reached out to me or the band to get our perspective on the current events, as they claimed to want to listen to “black voices.”
In other words, the ones that DO know us would like to pretend that we don’t exist — though you’d think it’d be a direct line of sight on this issue. That’s because this isn’t about black voices at all. It’s about a specific narrative and what’s political or socially expedient.
I was included in a thread that was dedicated to pointing out black people in rock bands:
When it got to me, there was such anger, going far as to say this:
In other words, a white person in this scene didn’t want me on this list specifically because I’m an Anarcho-Capitalist.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all upset at this. Bands and publications are under no obligation to reach out to me. I’m simply speaking to a larger problem when it comes to hypocrisy, lack of consistency and no true resolution. There’s just a lot of moral grandstanding and political posturing.
I’m fairly certain that many of your favorite bands have done or said something that is the same thing in different ways and I’m willing to bet that this op-ed is treated in different light because my opinions differ from them. All I ask is that you focus on what it is that I’m actually saying and not what you need me to say in order to completely dismiss my positions; there’s no need to straw man me.
George Floyd was murdered on film.
There’s no need to pretend like that wasn’t the case.
Was it racially motivated? Possibly. But I’m not going to say that it was or wasn’t because there’s no proof. Believe it or not, white people can get into altercations with black people and it doesn’t mean that it had everything to do with race. I’m also not one to not acknowledge the state-sanctioned racism that has historically existed in this country. I have detailed articles documenting this. The fact that this disclaimer alone will rub some of you the wrong way is exactly why I’m not optimistic about what’s going to happen on the other side of this protest.
This conversation went straight to white vs. black or blue vs. black when it should be the State vs. You.
At this point, I don’t even care to have these discussions about whether or not the law enforcement disproportionately kills when you account for population, crime rates etc. This issue is not going to be resolved if we can get everybody to be killed at the same rate, which is never going to happen anyway.
But the national narrative is centered around racism and that alone, so now we have many different people trying to prove that they’re one of the good guys pertaining to how they view black people. White people are being lectured by other white people to “speak up” and prove themselves to be allies, which is about as self-righteous as it gets. I do think this is exactly what we’re going to get in the age of social media, Instagram, likes and retweets.
Putting it bluntly: This is just a show for the most part and none of these actions are actually conducive to resolving the issue of State aggression.
When I say “the State” I’m not meaning something as simple as Texas or Alabama. They are states, but the federal government is a state as well.
For purposes of this write-up, understand that the State is a territorial monopoly on use of force, violence and ultimate decision making. The law enforcement, from the local level up to the federal level, are the teeth of the State. It’s not going to be Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, or your local representative that enforces the laws; it’s the law enforcers.
Because this monopoly exists, they do not play by the same rules as the other people.
Look no further than George Floyd to see this play out. Three men, with one on his neck, slowly killed him as onlookers pleaded with the cops. They didn’t step in to physically stop the cop. They just pleaded. If those three men were just regular people, this may have played out differently.
Someone could have rushed the cop kneeling on the back of his neck at the very least.
So why didn’t the onlookers assist George Floyd and opt to record it instead? Do the police have superpowers? Nope. But it’s hard to say.
It could be because they don’t think it’s worth the consequences. They could be shot. They could face charges in assaulting a police officer. They could have families that they just want to get to and ending up also dead or in prison isn’t worth it.
This all stems from how people view and treat the institution. Once they see the uniform and the badge, they understand that the State agents are rewarded with a set of protection that simply isn’t offered to the rest of the citizens. And that is why this is a cultural issue.
This will not be resolved by way of marching in the streets and yelling slogans.
This will not be resolved with hashtags or bandwagon profile pictures.
This will not be resolved by kneeling football players.
This will not be resolved by raising funds for organizations that are dedicated to “fighting injustice.”
And it certainly won’t be resolved by bringing “awareness” or “criminal justice reform.”
This will only be resolved when most of the individuals within the geographical area want to rid the State of its power and its ability to rule over them. That makes this a more complex cultural issue. Despising the police is the easy part. It’s the other side of things that makes people uncomfortable when it comes to conversation. Quite often groups that claim to dislike law enforcers will advocate for things that are diametrically opposed.
Decentralization and secession efforts are the most conducive strategy — getting the power as close as possible to the individuals and their communities while maintaining the idea that all actions and interactions should be voluntary.
But with this comes responsibility and this is possibly why this isn’t being talked about.
Perhaps the silver lining is that people that were on the fence when it came to law enforcers are seeing that they aren’t on their side either. Your businesses, places of employment and where you get your goods and services are being destroyed in your community and the police are doing nothing to stop it. This will hopefully incentivize people to look into methods of defense, such as firearms training, because they are their own first responders when things hit the fan.
As to be expected, though maybe not to this degree, people used this unfortunate event to be the opportunists that they were. They’ve destroyed and looted businesses including small and black owned ones. This has absolutely nothing to with black lives or racial injustice and to say that people that are only responding this way because they are angry and oppressed is purely nonsense.
Under no other human affair or conflict would we try to rationalize with someone targeting innocent people because of their experiences. If there is a clear and obvious aggressor, you go meet up with the aggressor. This is why early on during this conflict the only people that had mildly justified actions were the people that took their gripes to the precincts.
Yet, for some reason we have so many people excusing, justifying or endorsing this bad behavior of looting innocents. Those that do seem to also perpetuate this nonsensical idea that if you speak negatively of the looting, you’re underlying the police brutality.
In my many years of being against that institution, I’ve had many people tweet at me suggesting saying things like “I wish you cared as much about police killing a black man as you did property.”
This is what they say to cope with being too scared to criticize the looting, want it to go unpunished, or they simply want you to shut up. I’m a principled man. I value property rights, which all starts with self-ownership. They also cope with excusing this bad behavior by having an “it’s just property” mindset and being completely ignorant on business and commercial insurance.
No man has the right to aggress upon you. I am entirely capable of having both positions: cops are bad and looters are bad. This doesn’t even mean they’re both equal, but they certainly are both wrong. To suggest that I have to talk about one or the other is a false choice. To suggest that speaking negatively about one means that I support the other, is a false dichotomy. This binary thinking has been prevalent across social media. Again, if you understand this you can understand why issues are not resolved.
The cultural issue that nobody wants to really discuss is how people look to the State and their law enforcers as Gods even if they claim to hate them.
Just a week ago some of the same people that were marching were lecturing people about how the State must impose a lockdown on the entire country because they were scared of a virus. They had no problem snitching on their neighbors and this economic illiteracy put 40 million or so people out of work, stripping them of their livelihoods much like what happens when businesses are destroyed.
Who enforced these lockdowns? The same cops that they’re calling bastards. Because the game is rigged, they were able to go-back on everything that they previously lectured us about and now everybody is bunched up in big groups, protesting across the country.
This isn’t unlike the other contradictory positions they have. Many of them support big government welfare statists and advocate for “free” things such as college and healthcare.
All of this is funded by theft and coercion of property through taxation.
In the event any individual does not want to pay for said welfare statism who is going to confiscate property forcefully? Local and/or federal law enforcers. This is why saying All Cops Are Bastards is something that they don’t universalize and it’s an edgy teenager-like belief that they don’t even universalize.
If you advocate for things such welfare statism or further taxation to pay for the things, what you advocate implies usage of cops in some capacity. If it didn’t, you would not have been arguing at all with me or others like me when we said “taxation is theft” or advocate to privatize all things.
This is the part where I’m going to upset some of you.
On any given day prior to George Floyd’s death, people were killed and murdered by other people. An old friend of mine was killed over a $40 Superbowl bet. His killers are in prison, but many people have never been punished and have killed innocents.
What’s the difference between their deaths and George Floyd? What makes you more frustrated about George Floyd’s death than the others?
It’s because it’s a cop doing it.
I’m not at all pulling the “what about black-on-black homicide” card. I’m highlighting how they treat the State agents like they’re sacred and they expect more from them than others. So when this sacred institution turns on them, they get upset.
But that is the problem.
It’s the fact that people look at this institution and its agents as if they are different from any other man. That is power that the people within the geographical area gave them. That’s the expectation that they had, and that expectation was a foolish one. But the criminal institution bets that you feel as if they are necessary and they use this to rule over you. So of course I’m not optimistic about what is going to happen on the other side of this.
A revolution means absolutely nothing and can get you an even worse situation or right back to square-one if people don’t recognize the core problem.
Now, I know so many people have been looking to hashtags of Black Lives Matter. To me, this was always a movement and slogan that was synonymous to weakness. Black Lives Matter to who? I certainly value my black life and my family’s black life.
There was a video I caught on Twitter in which a black man was holding a sign as he and others walked by a group of armed men standing guard around their neighborhood. The sign said “my life matters.” It’s like he’s trying to convince those that don’t value his life to value his life.
And that’s what this has always been — movement where black people are begging white people to treat them like they treat other white people. This has fostered a culture of white virtue signalers who think they are superior, which is masked in this supposed “privilege.”
It’s self-loathing but they think that black people’s worlds cannot move unless they move it for them. They are demanding that others speak out against “racial injustice” as they try to outdo each other to prove who is not racist the most. This is power that I personally have never granted any white man or woman.
All of these white-owned institutions are now making promises to include black people. It’s a hand-me-down.
But this is what many black leaders and black organizations want. It’s a movement centered around begging to be acknowledged by white people.
I do not require anybody to speak up for me. I do not require your defense of my existence. I have never begged to be accepted by white people. I’ve never begged to be included in their affairs. I don’t feel scared and defenseless as a black man. If I feel they are actively keeping me out due to my race, I may condemn the behavior, but I’ll never beg them to or demand that they include me or give resources.
The whole “look at us, we’re diverse” is patronizing, and I say this as a man in a band with a black man and white and Latino men. It’s not our strength. It’s just a thing. I feel as if they can keep their solidarity points. If you’re genuinely a good dude, regardless of race, then you’re good with me.
I’m constantly preaching self-reliance, not inclusion. If there is an exclusively black affair that makes said black people prosperous, good for them. It doesn’t need to come from white people.
Black advancement will not happen by way of hashtags or inclusivity by way of people that feel sorry for blacks. It’s going to come by way of creating their own opportunities and being self-reliant and self-sufficient.
The best thing that people can do is get rid of the State-imposed policies that prevent this and get out of the way.
But this is a cultural issue that goes both ways. Black leaders aren’t leading with this idea, unfortunately. It’s the same generic “fight against injustice” and raise awareness. It’s of no surprise that the black experience or supposed struggle is then used to further other people’s political agendas and is easily hijacked.
There once was a black leader that some of these people paraded around that also preached self-reliance over begging for access to white people’s kitchens. His name was Malcolm X.
With self-reliance comes responsibility.
I’m all for community-based security and privatized, voluntary forms of protection. I do not want something that is only defunded in name or replaced with State law enforcement under a different moniker.
But ultimately we are our own first responders. Gun ownership is something that I feel as now necessary more than ever and people, especially black people, are looking to get armed. This has been my recent focus in activism in getting my family and friends trained on how to use guns.
The music scene that we are in does not have the most gun-friendly individuals. After every single shooting they fought to further gun bans, make more restrictions, and make it more difficult for people to be able to own a gun. They’ve advocated for red flag laws, again enforced by cops, that have gotten people killed.
We can discuss the racist history of gun control in America, but I’d rather focus on the now. These are truly enemies of people and a large part of why I’d never be caught marching alongside these types. Prior to a week ago they wanted me dead, disarmed, taxed to death or ruled over. They are enemies of liberty, and I see these types as merely a rival gang of the cops. Neither are my friends, and I’m not forced to choose a side. In fact, the latter is statistically more likely to kill me than the cops. But every man and woman has the right to defend themselves against all aggressors, including state agents.
But having these positions in this scene will get you piled on by the intellectual dishonesty mob that assumes everything to the right of Bernie Sanders is “right-wing” Trump supporting white supremacy.
As I mentioned earlier, you’d be hard pressed to find any other person in this scene that has consistently been anti-government as I have. But even I have been accused by randoms as supporting Trump because I dared to have a different belief. And anything they can’t pin you on they accuse you of using the “rhetoric” of their enemies God forbid a black man (or any for that matter) doesn’t think as they do.
When you don’t have an actual argument you have to try to speak the worst positions into existence on behalf of your opponent. And because everybody else agrees with you in the echo chamber, you don’t have to be factually or morally correct at all. You just have to get your chamber members to state that the other person is wrong. But I’ve never had to compromise on my principles, and I pride myself in being as consistent as possible.
Group-think doesn’t allow them to make the distinction between philosophies and ideologies. Quite frankly I think a lot of people within this scene have gotten away with not being knowledgeable on the subjects they discuss, but because it’s generally met with unanimous agreement they don’t have to defend this position.
It’s not “black lives matter.” It’s not “black voices matter.” It’s “black voices that fit a certain politic matter.” It’s black people that they can control or utilize for their own political and social agendas, matter.
There are not many experiences that anybody can say that would make their experience more legitimate than mine if we are talking black experience. I grew up in a single parent household and was raised by a black woman. I was born and raised in Dallas, and did my share of gangbanging. I’ve had my share of abuse by cops. I’m where I’m at through growth, strength, knowledge and I’m not in a more than favorable situation. There’s nothing that a 20-year-old white band dude nor black guy feeling sorry for himself could possibly say to delegitimize my position or experience.
With that being said, I’d like to end by expressing that I’m not at all saying that every single person in this scene or in general that is out there protesting is a bad person. I may think your methods are ineffective, but I’m not oblivious to the fact that some of you have decency.
But we cannot sit here and pretend that there isn’t a clear and obvious political and social monopoly, nor should we act as if all of this virtue signaling is genuine.
I’m over the hashtags and posturing. Let’s get to the actual solutions and this is a conversation that I’m more than willing to have and debate with anybody that would want to discuss this like adults.
Solutions > moral grandstanding.
Eric July is the frontman of Metalcore/Street Hop band, BackWordz. He’s also the cofounder and Head of Multimedia for Being Libertarian. Follow BackWordz on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.