Spoiler, but Black Lives Matter isn’t motivated by hate. Nor are their goals based in violence or discord.
Now, you’re probably loathing the above statement.
You probably think BLM is motivated by all those things. You probably think they want violent confrontations and dead cops.
If you don’t think that, that’s great. You haven’t fallen for a cognitive distortion common among us all (yes, the “us” includes you).
It’s called motive attribution asymmetry. It’s what perverts your understanding of other groups.
Say Hello to Motive Attribution Asymmetry
Motive Attribution Asymmetry convinces you that your group is driven by acts of “love, care, and affiliation,” while opponents are drive by the opposite. It makes you biased to positive attributes in those who share your beliefs while refusing to see any positive attributes or actions in your ideological opposites.
“The research involved the participation of almost 3,000 people: Israelis and Palestinians in the Mideast, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. The study shows each side felt their own group is motivated by love more than hate, but when asked why their rival group is involved in the conflict, pointed to hate as that group’s motivating factor.”
Depending on which group in the study you identify with, you probably just fell victim to motive attribution asymmetry.
How It’s Reared its Ugly Head in Recent Debates
Thanks to its confirmation bias angle, this cognitive distortion hurts most attempts at productive discussions.
Take the Black Lives Matter issue for example. Both sides view each other as hateful and bigoted while viewing themselves as compassionate and loving. Both sides take the actions of specific individuals, combine them with the larger movement, and use it to paint a picture of the movement.
Motive Attribution Asymmetry feeds off the extreme examples of the movement. Republicans think the majority of BLM promotes cop killing, while BLM thinks the majority of Republicans are racist toward blacks and approve of cops killing poor blacks.
Neither assumption is true, it’s all sampling.
Conclusion: Getting Away from Assumptions
Assumptions kill most conversations before they even begin.
Extreme examples are assumed to be the norm, they then become a narrative, informing and shaping your view of reality.
The BLM movement doesn’t endorse violence or cop killing. The founders of the movement extoll “loving engagement,” “empathy,” and “restorative justice.” Likewise, Republicanism isn’t built on racism and hatred of blacks, nor do most republicans support bad cops.
Context is important. And the context is, you can’t paint a picture of a movement with its fringe members.
In the end, you need to look past the narrative you’ve crafted, to the people you engage with on a daily basis.