A couple of weeks ago, the Unitarian church across the street from my house put up a large sign “Black Lives Matter” along Concord Pike that was soon vandalized by someone cutting out the word “Black.” Their sign is also festooned with pieces of cloth painted by toddlers, the cloths hung by clothes pins on clotheslines strung among the supporting framework. I don’t understand the significance of the cloths—toddler’s drawings always need a lot of explanation— but we in the neighborhood have learned to tolerate the church’s occasional inexplicable actions. We see them as an eccentric, harmless uncle. I take a before-bed walk right past the sign almost every evening, and the cloths are undisturbed. Apparently, the vandal did not understand their meaning, either, and left them alone.
I do not know who placed the American flag on the sign as shown in the photo—the church or the vandal. I did not notice it before the unauthorized editing, but I could be wrong.
When the sign was found vandalized, it made the news on the Philadelphia TV stations. The Unitarians said they had plenty of the signs and would continue to replace the damaged ones. They also put up a small note on the sign saying for each act of vandalism they were going to contribute (not saying how much) to some Black Lives Matter organization I never heard of, so the vandals would actually be helping the black cause. (In your face, vandals! Nanny, nanny, boo, boo.)
I later learned the Black Lives Matter organization is a committee in their own church, so they are vowing to contribute to themselves. Big deal. Besides, I doubt their committee will move the needle one bit on the public’s sympathy with the black cause. I should also point out their congregation is almost all white. Minorities do not join organizations that patronize them.
A church spokesman said that the vandalism proves racism is alive and well in our area. I thought their sign was racist, I kid you not. The slogan, “Black Lives Matter,” separates the population by race and gives one group special attention. That is what racism is. I suspect the vandal thought so, too. When the vandal cut out the word “Black” he was actually making their racist sign non-racist.
I was not upset either way over the sign. The Unitarians are generally pleasant people who mean well, but often become sanctimonious when promoting some principle or another, despite claiming to “celebrate diversity of belief.” Still, they seem harmless enough. As Ronald Reagan would say, “There they go again.”
I occasionally see them lined up along Concord Pike holding signs promoting the cause of the month. The strain shows in their faces and they seem to need a little joy in their lives, so I beep and flash a thumbs-up as I drive by. They love it, immediately wave back and smile like true church members should.
(My latest observations suggest the sign will eventually be taken down altogether. I suspect cooler heads in the congregation realize it is only stirring up resentment for no purpose and hardening everyone’s position. Who knows? Who cares?)