What's wrong with saying "All lives matter"?

This question arose in my mind again upon hearing the news that two ‘Black Lives Matter’ activists disrupted a Bernie Sanders speech, shoved Sanders, and accused the crowd of being “white supremacist liberals”. This is, of course, not the first episode of this kind. Last month an appearance by Martin O’Malley at Netroots Nation was disrupted by similar activists. O’Malley was booed and shouted down after he said “Black lives matter. White liver matter. All lives matter.” He latter apologized (!) for saying that. And earlier this year, the President of Smith College also apologized for a message saying that “All lives matter”.

What is wrong with saying that all lives matter? Or to put the question in a broader context, why is it wrong to say that the civil rights of all people should be protected against police violence, and what do these activists hope to gain from being jerks and preventing people from speaking out in favor of the defense of civil rights for everyone?

Nothing is wrong with the statement per se. The problem comes in the context of people who are trying to get their specific message across about their unique problem, then it sounds like a dismissal of their cause. This wasn’t played smartly by either side.

Because it’s not the lives of Caucasians that practically anyone in the country feels is cheap or disposable or not worthy of thought. It’s the “hey, let’s make this issue about ME” thing that irritates minorities about majorities - kind of like the “not all men” meme.

To me, it gives the impression that the problem is equal for all people, since the statement is “all lives matter” when in reality, all lives do matter, but, black people are killed or arrested without cause more often than white.

I would of thought this was fairly obvious…

There’s nothing wrong with it, besides the fact that it completely misses the point

For some reason when I show up at breast cancer walks with my signs that say ‘all cancers matter’ the walkers look at me disapprovingly!

You’re child’s sick? Well, there’s lots of sick children in the world.

In the context of the current movement, there’s an implied “too” at the end of the statement “Black Lives Matter.”

The point of the movement is to bring attention to the unique and special circumstances of a specific minority group. We already know that all lives are supposed to matter. The point is that black lives, in reality, don’t.

Exactly, “Black lives matter” doesn’t mean “ONLY black lives matter” but “black lives ALSO matter. As much as the lives of other races” The idea being that in some instances, notoriously in the case of policemen dealing with black civilians, black lives seem to matter less.

White supremacists liberals.

Love it

Why was O’Malley shouted down for saying that all lives matter? One can’t just throw in the word “ALSO” after the fact and handwave the situation away.

As well as the replies above to your OP I suspect there is also a pissing contest between activists and politicians here. As you implied; should the problem of black lives not mattering be dealt with in an all en-compassing manner, or, should it be dealt with(and owned) by black activists and the black caucus. The slur against “white supremacist liberals” hints at a political pissing contest being taking place.

The activists cause here is a worthy enough one. However, that doesn’t make their activist tactics correct, or, indeed noble. Worthy causes can attract dubious individuals.

My post is not meant to take sides. Both sides will be playing petty politics with this cause.

Yes, the problem is it dilutes the message they’re trying to get across. I wish though they’d also target the message that Black Lives Matter to young black men themselves in an effort to reduce the frightening number of black-on-black killings. The press usually completely ignore this though. These black lives matter too but you’d be hard put to find any outrage about it in the media.

Because the implication of saying “all lives matter” is that you don’t believe there’s a particular problem affecting specifically black people, or that said problem is relevant enough.

If, for instance, there was a situation where women were paid significantly less than men for the same amount of work, and somebody said “women should be paid more” and your reply was “everybody should be paid more”, what you are implying with that is that you either don’t believe there’s such a difference or else that you don’t feel there’s any need to solve the wage gap.

And I’m not “throwing it after the fact”. It’s very obviously been part of the context since the beginning.

Yep. Essentially, for the last several decades the attitude has been “all lives matter”, and that attitude has failed. Black people face special circumstances that result in being killed by police fare more often and thus we should pay special emphasis to the loss of their lives, and to preventing this.

Because it’s very different. Criminals target people for many reasons aside from race. In fact, I can’t think of a single situation where a black criminal would target somebody just because they share a similar skin tone.

Policemen targeting people specifically because of their race is the core issue here, however.

No, the implication of shouting down “all lives matter” is that some lives are more equal than others.

There’s a pretty good explanation in this reddit thread.

Well, you say that. That’s pretty much not the impression I got from the whole thing.

So what are you saying here? That black people are not at all victimized by the police, and want preferential treatment anyway?

You’re going with the “Daddy, it’s not fair” argument? Seriously?

Didn’t your own father disabuse you of the notion that life is supposed to be fair?