Following her Superbowl 2016 performance and release of her new single, “Formation,” Beyoncé faced criticism alleging that her public support of the Black Lives Matter movement and references to African-American history meant she was somehow anti-police.
Since then, the famously private singer didn’t really address the controversy—but in an interview published today, she finally spoke up. In the process, Beyoncé perfectly explained why criticizing police brutality is not anti-cop:
What do you feel people don’t understand about who you really are, and in particular about the message you’ve put forward with “Formation”?
I mean, I’m an artist and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood. But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created and I’m proud to be a part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.
In this argument, Beyoncé gets it exactly right.
Rare Politics editor Jack Hunter made basically the same argument back in 2014 by drawing an analogy to problems in the American public school system:
Most conservatives believe big government has corrupted public education in ways that damage student development and undermine communities. Conservatives are not against teachers—they are against a system that impedes otherwise good and well-intentioned people from doing their job in an effective way.
Conservatives are against a broken education system.
Federal incentives, whether due to the drug war or war on terror, are regularly doled out to even the smallest police departments who acquire tanks and other weapons of war that go far beyond the capacity of what you might expect from your friendly neighborhood officer.
Can our federal education system have a corrupting affect on even the most well-intentioned teachers? Do you think being treated like soldiers and geared up for battle with military weaponry might have an affect on the perspective of the average police officer?
Jack and Beyoncé (what a pairing, am I right?) are correct. If anything, it would be anti-cop to ignore evidence of police brutality: Only people who don’t care about or don’t respect the justice system’s importance would be willing to let this sort of corruption slide.