Many Republicans continue to drag their feet when it comes to addressing the straightforward issues of systemic racism and police brutality against black Americans. During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday about a bill outlining policing reforms, one committee member — Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) — opened the floor during his remarks to any Republican who would acknowledge that “black lives matter.” Subsequently, the Trump-supporting Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz chimed in to insist that “all lives matter” and called on Swalwell to acknowledge as much. “Black lives matter” does not, in fact, contradict “all lives matter.” The phrase “all lives matter” is used as a pointless distraction from the fact that black lives are the ones who need support right now.
‘Black lives matter. Period. And so I would yield to any of my colleagues on the Republican side who can unequivocally say as we calibrate where we are right now that black lives matter.’
Gaetz spoke up next. He said:
‘Does the gentleman believe that all lives matter? I think black lives matter, I think all lives matter.’
Gaetz’s question is an entirely bad-faith question. Obviously, Swalwell believes that all lives matter. That’s not in question. Yet, Gaetz opted to engage in this pointless spectacle rather than acknowledging the fact that black lives need support right now. “All lives” are not under the same kind of threats that black lives are in the United States on a daily basis.
After Swalwell spoke up again and repeated his question of whether anyone on the Republican side would say that “black lives matter,” Gaetz petulantly piped up again. He added:
‘Unequivocally, all lives matter. Why is that a problem to acknowledge?’
It is not a problem to acknowledge. It’s the implied understanding that everyone obviously agrees upon. Gaetz is making up a conflict and then antagonizing Democrats for not being on the right side of this made-up conflict.
As Swalwell put it in response:
‘I think it’s clear that my colleagues on the other side would like to put up a straw man to not have to the uncomfortable conversation that we need to have about race… We have to have the harder conversation about systemic issues in policing.’