All Lives Matter Puts ICC on a Sticky Wicket

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Usman Khawaja speaking to the media in Perth

ONDRIVE with Sham Samaroo
December 28, 2023

By refusing to allow Aussie Opener Usman Khawaja to wear a dove on his bat the ICC finds itself in a moral dilemma. This latest request by Khawaja in the ongoing Boxing Day test followed an earlier request to wear the message All Lives Are Equal on his shoes in Perth. Speaking in Perth following the ICC denial, Khawaja said: “One Jewish life is equal to one Muslim life is equal to one Hindu life and so on”. Responding to the ICC decision, former West Indies pacer Michael Holding said: “Once again they show their hypocrisy and lack of moral standing as an organization”. “The ICC regulations say re messaging: approval shall not be granted for messages which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes. “So how the f— people were allowed to take the knee for BLM (Black Lives Matter) and stumps were covered with LGBTQ colours?” asked Holding. The dove symbol is a reference to article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says: All human beings are born free and equal…” During the current test series against Pakistan, Khawaja has repeatedly sought to raise awareness to the Gaza humanitarian crisis.

In taking the view that all lives matter, is Khawaja running the risk of being labeled racist or anti-Semitic? Does every criticism of Israel or Jews constitute anti-Semitism? To believe that all lives matter seems reasonable and uncontroversial, wouldn’t you say? After all it is in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Why then does someone holding such a belief run the risk of being viewed as divisive? Could it be that all lives matter puts the spotlight on one of the most inflammatory and divisive movements in America, Black Lives Matter (BLM)? The movement succeeded in creating a world where believing that all lives matter is seen as controversial or worst, racist. Does a belief in the universal declaration that all lives matter, as opposed to BLM, constitute divisiveness or racism?

The BLM movement got started after the Treyvon Martin shooting in Florida in 2012, and really took off after the Hands-Up, Don’t-Shoot rallying cry that followed the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This gesture of raised hands became a symbol of outrage over mistreatment of unarmed black youth by police. But it is based on a false narrative that Brown had his hands raised in surrender, mouthing the words “Don’t shoot” as his last words before being shot execution-style. That was found to be totally untrue according to the findings of the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, as well as that of the St. Louis County Grand jury. This is taken from AG Eric Holder’s DOJ report:
“As discussed throughout this report, [Officer] Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence, and his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other credible eyewitness accounts” (DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE REPORT REGARDING THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE SHOOTING DEATH OF MICHAEL BROWN BY FERGUSON, MISSOURI POLICE OFFICER DARREN WILSON, MARCH 4, 2015). The Justice Department concluded that officer Wilson acted out of self-defense, and was justified in killing Brown.
A key passage from that DOJ Report is instructive: “Investigators tracked down several individuals who, via the aforementioned media, claimed to have witnessed Wilson shooting Brown as Brown held his hands up in clear surrender. All of these purported witnesses, upon being interviewed by law enforcement, acknowledged that they did not actually witness the shooting, but rather repeated what others told them in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. … Witness accounts suggesting that Brown was standing still with his hands raised in an unambiguous signal of surrender when Wilson shot Brown are inconsistent with the physical evidence, are otherwise not credible because of internal inconsistencies, or are not credible because of inconsistencies with other credible evidence” (end quote).

However, before any of the facts could be ascertained Hands Up, Don’t Shoot went viral with BLM. In today’s world it seems advantageous to get out-front ahead of the truth. Why wait and let the truth get in the way of a good story, especially one that fuels the fire of your false narrative? And that is precisely what appears to have occurred. Everything went viral long before the DOJ conclusion that Officer Wilson acted in self-defense, and furthermore that there was not a single credible, corroborating evidence, eye –witness or physical, to support the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot narrative. But that false narrative was already out ahead of the truth and the rallying cry of Hands Up and BLM took on a life of its own worldwide. Is the ICC afraid of being ostracized or accused of being racist should it support the position that all lives matter? In denying Khawaja the ICC “show their hypocrisy and lack of moral standing as an organization”.

In our local community here in Queens that false narrative is still being repeated. Perhaps some of you were too young to know about the prejudice, discrimination, hate, and abuse that took place under the Forbes Burnham administration in Guyana. But others do remember. As we welcome in the New Year, here is something to consider: If we have never before come together as Americans, then we better start doing so now because if another country comes here and takes over, we are all going to find ourselves victims of prejudice, discrimination, and hate. And some of us have experience. Happy New Year!

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The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the THE WEST INDIAN.