Glenn Greenwald: Black Lives Don’t Matter When There Are Democrats To Blame

This gets crazier than usual. Even for Greenwald.

by Justin Rosario

After Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign, I more or less stopped paying attention to Glenn Greenwald. He had spent just about every waking moment of the last six years trying to poison the discourse and while he had succeeded in 2016, he had failed in 2020. There was not going to be a long, drawn out and damaging primary and, so far, there has been no significant split on the left. Except maybe in activist Twitter land which is divided between “Trump has got to go” and “four more years of Trump is worth it.”

Greenwald and the rest of his anti-Democrat cohort occasionally darken my twitter feed and I’ll have something less than polite to say about them, but, mostly, I focus on Trump and his party of white nationalist fascists.

But after almost three weeks of protests that are affecting real change, I thought I might pop on over and see what kind of crap good ol’ Glenn was spewing. There was zero chance Greenwald would support the protests without additional commentary because they are hurting Trump, badly. Therefore, I guessed that instead of supporting anti-police brutality, Glenn would be more concerned with how Democrats are to blame for...something.

It’s important to keep in mind that Greenwald presents himself as a champion of liberty. In reality, he behaves more like a right-leaning libertarian who doesn’t actually say he’s a right-leaning libertarian. His schtick is to attack Democrats as being the enemy of everything good in the world while ignoring the literal white nationalist fascism of Republicans. It’s a super transparent ruse that anyone not blinded by hatred of the Democratic Party can see through. But hate makes a lot of people easy to dupe (see, Republican Party, entire base of) so he still has quite the following.

Even so, as a libertarian, one would think Greenwald would be pretty gung-ho about the protests. Police brutality is so anathema to libertarianism that even Rand Paul, one of the most loathsome Trump toadies in the Senate, is pushing a police reform bill.

But Greenwald has very little interest in holding the police accountable. The real bad guys in the ongoing protests are Democrats.

Black Lives Don’t Matter When There Are Democrats To Blame

From the day Floyd was killed and moving through the following weeks, Greenwald’s tweets paint a depressing picture of a person paying lip service to the idea that the police need to be reigned in while searching for a narrative that paints Democrats as the primary villains.

Greenwald occasionally struggles to find the right way to bash Democrats and stays relatively quiet until he figures it out. For instance, after his “Russiagate is a hoax” narrative blew up in his face, he was completely silent for a full week before flying into a fit of rage at, of course, Democrats. 

In this same vein, Greenwald doesn’t really say too much about Floyd, the police, or the protests for the first week or so. There are twice as many tweets about animal cruelty as there are about the protests and only a few of the those tweets are about the police themselves or their rapidly escalating violence. Most of them are about how you can’t trust Democrats or the press.

There are, as always, very few tweets about Trump and they have to do with his threats to send in the military (which Glenn, to his credit, opposes). The overwhelming balance is about how awful Democrats are. There are but a handful discussing the actual point of the protests, i.e. black lives mattering.

I'd like to take a moment to point out that Glenn Greenwald is a regular guest on Tucker Carlson’s white nationalist power hour. Allegedly, he does this because his voice is being “suppressed” by the mean ol’ mainstream media — a weird claim given he runs a popular website lavishly funded by billionaire Peter Omidyar.

Regardless, the fact that Greenwald is so comfortable with Tucker Carlson, Fox News’s premiere racist, strongly suggests that he doesn’t care all that much about George Floyd or the violence visited on black communities. Unless he can blame it on Democrats, that is.

None of this surprised me in the least. Greenwald has never been an ally to anyone but rich white men. That’s what it means to be a libertarian. That’s why Greenwald’s arguments always seem to find a way to avoid criticizing Trump and the GOP while undermining their opposition.

I was surprised, however, by the mendacity of the narrative he eventually stumbled onto in order to help Republicans: Democrats, healthcare experts, and the press (who all just so happen to also be targets of Trump) are Covid-19 hypocrites for not condemning the BLM protests.

Strap yourself in, this gets crazier than usual. Even for Greenwald.

Everyone Is A Hypocrite! Except Me

My guess is that Greenwald noticed that the protests were resonating a little too much with his audience. There’s an awful lot of younger white people showing up to stand with black people — enough that the police are becoming less vigorous with their beatings. America shrugs at the brutalization of black protesters but it’s a different story when fresh-faced Sally gets a baton upside the head for holding a sign.

Repeating over and over that Democrats are bad for aligning themselves with protests that most of the country, including a rather significant number of Republicans, are on board with wasn’t going to cut it. Time to find something new. And he certainly did:

In this article, Greenwald puts his full libertarian pathology on display. He finds the idea of temporarily putting the economy on pause to save lives repulsive.

So dogmatic was the dictate that we all stay at home that any attempt to question or even balance it — by, for instance, arguing that the harms of the virus had to be weighed against the suffering from an economic shutdown and a global depression — was deemed immoral. Those who questioned state-mandated lockdown and stay-at-home orders, let alone left their homes to actually protest against them, were condemned as sociopaths who were willing to sacrifice the lives of old people for economic prosperity or the trivial, troglodyte desire to go to Applebees.

There was a very good reason for being horrified by these protests. The arguments against the lockdowns were not about saving small businesses or protecting people from economic hardship. They couldn’t be because people could have demanded the federal government provide a real bailout rather than shovel half a trillion dollars to corporations and refusing to tell the public who got the money.

Instead, the protests were about eating at restaurants and getting manicures. They were about spewing hate at Democrats (and only Democrats). They were about turning the coronavirus into a culture war to help Trump get reelected

This is not disputed. Protesters were very clear that they considered the entire thing a hoax by the “liberal media” engineered to hurt Trump. On top of that, Dan Patrick, the Republican Lt. Governor of Texas made it clear he believed older Americans should die for the sake of the stock market:No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.

Republicans sent a very clear message: the economy and Trump’s reelection are more important than your lives. Thousands of white Republican voters flocked to state houses without masks to support this vile message.

Greenwald clearly dislikes this framing even though it is, quite literally, the GOP’s own framing. He also thinks it’s unfair that normal people were appalled by this callous disregard for human life because making people stay home for the greater good is not “freedom” to a libertarian.

So, like every good leftist ideologue, he found a way to “both sides” the whole thing.

And yet, in very stark contrast to the vehement denunciations from public health experts of prior protests or out-of-the-home activities of any kind, virtually no prominent experts have denounced any of this on the ground that it will spread the coronavirus and ultimately kill more people (even though that is highly likely to happen). To the contrary, many infectious disease experts have done the exact opposite: they have endorsed and encouraged these mass street protests, claiming not that their support for them is grounded in their political values but in their health and scientific judgment.

If you didn’t catch the rhetorical sleight-of-hand there, don’t beat yourself up. Greenwald is an expert in misdirection.

What he’s insinuating by using a bit of a world salad is that the same people who said the old protests would spread Covid are now saying the new protests will not. That’s not true, of course. I have yet to see a single politician, activist, or health expert even suggest that the protests will not be an issue. They have uniformly urged protesters to wear masks and practice social distancing wherever possible.

Greenwald is conflating their support for the protests with an imagined claim that the protests are not epidemiological dangers. 

Greenwald gives away the game when he archly declares it “a manipulation, an abuse, of public health credentials” to support the BLM protests but denounce the anti-lockdown protests. In other words, he sees no difference between the two. He doesn’t even see the difference between the BLM protests and Trump’s rallies, calling them both “political events.”

Of course, there’s a teeny tiny difference between the protests. The anti-lockdown protests were against the very idea of flattening the curve. “My body, my choice” was un-ironically bandied about. Guns were brandished and violence threatened. People who wore masks were both verbally and physically assaulted for daring to protect themselves and others. The protesters wanted restaurants and bars and nail salons opened for their convenience right fucking now!

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In other words, the protests were explicitly about making the spread of the virus worse under the aegis of “owning the libs.” Even more horrific, they were explicitly based on lies spread by Trump, the GOP, and the right wing media. Not confusion about the facts or a misunderstanding, but deliberate lies told to benefit Trump’s reelection efforts.

So, in fact, denouncing these protests was not based on political values anymore than acknowledging climate change is. To buy into Greenwald’s framing is to buy into the kind of framing Trump himself uses to turn everything into a binary “us vs. them” fight. It’s dishonest in the extreme.

By way of comparison, the BLM protests are not about Covid-19 at all. Although one tangent of BLM deals with healthcare and inequality of outcomes, the current protests are mainly about police brutality. It’s a terrible idea to be out protesting during a pandemic but, and here’s the part that Greenwald is deliberately obfuscating, some things are more important and cannot be put off.

A mass movement fighting for racial equality is one of those things. Getting your goddamn nails done is not.

Libertarians Don’t Care About People

Greenwlad claims he’s a “vocal supporter” of the protests and links to one of his tweets. And if you ignore the dozens of other tweets he spends attacking Democrats instead of supporting the protesters, you might actually believe him.

But then he gives the game away again:

One of two things is true; either 1) these protests will lead to a significant spike in coronavirus infections and deaths, in which case public health experts should reconcile that outcome with how they could have encouraged and endorsed them; or 2) it will not lead to such a spike, in which case it will appear that the months of extreme, draconian lockdowns — which caused great suffering and deprivation around the world — were excessive, misguided and unwarranted.

The protests will lead to a spike. A bad one. But no one has to explain to Greenwald why they support them anyway because that decision is self-evident (also, no one ever has to explain themselves to Glenn Greenwald). On the other hand, Greenwald should have to explain why he, like Republicans, feels that money is more important than lives. That’s the only reason he would suggest the lockdowns were “excessive, misguided, and unwarranted” without mentioning that well over 100,000 Americans have died so far and we’re on track to lose another 100,000 by the end of August.

Every industrialized country that engaged in timely lockdowns and then followed up with testing, tracing, and quarantining has their outbreaks more or less under control. Those countries that did not, have outbreaks that are spiraling out of control, nowhere worse than the United States. Clearly, the concerted effort to downplay the dangers of the virus by Trump and his lackeys and their subsequent inaction have had a disastrous effect. One wonders why Greenwald spends so little time talking about this. 

Greenwald claims to oppose Trump but then does everything possible to bolster him by attacking his enemies from the “left”; often in breathtakingly dishonest ways. By trying to frame the protests and the reaction to them by the Democrats, medical experts, and the press as “hypocritical” and “political,” Greenwald is reinforcing Trump’s claims that the lockdowns were all about damaging his reelection. It’s a cynical abuse of his “progressive” platform but that’s been his scam for over a decade.

Sooner or later, Greenwald’s ardent fans on the left have to wake up and realize that their hero has been working against them for years. Greenwald is more than a cheap grifter like David Sirota or Krystal Ball; he is actively working to keep Republicans in power because they more closely align with his libertarian ideals than Democrats ever will. 

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