Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Bleat Goes On: Guns and Race

In the context of an earlier discussion this morning, already, these first two Daily Show segments (Jan. 8., 13) are quite apposite (I skipped the McChrystalnacht segments; I'll go back to 'em later).
But it's worth noting that, for all his frankness and (tighteous) outrage, Stewart also dances delicately around what I think is the unspoken heart of the matter of gun violence in America, which, by thje way is what has distinguished USers from our northern neighbors as a matter of national psyche with regard to guns.
As with every other intractable social problem we experience, the unseen burr under the saddle is race, and its consequences. If there is a common thread among the DEFENDERS of the "right" to arm yourself to the teeth and implicitly, at least thereby intimidate their neighbors asnd acquaintances, it is that they are almost ALL angry (though it's an archetypal cover for "fearful"), white and male.
Think about it: Where are the black folks and latinos and Native folks demanding the right to be armed to the teeth? Oh, it happens. Think of Wounded Knee and MOVE in Philaelphia. Leonard Peltier's never been invited onto CNN to threaten open rebellion if "they" come for HIS guns.
If ANY group in this country had a right to seek to arm themselves and to protect the right to do so, it would be communities and people of color. All of them have been targeted (so to speak) by the deadly attentions of armed WHITE people bent on their suppression and/or extermination.
People PROUDLY "white." People consciously spreading the "destiny of the White race" unto the benighted heathens. Keeping the negroes down.
Call it what you will:
 The loudest, most explosive, looniest gun-goons are not members of groups who were VICTIMS of unbridled gun violence, they are of the group which perpetrated those acts. Billy, the Kid, bragged he'd killed 20 men by his 20th birthday, "not counting mexicans and indians." White guys want--demand--these weapons in case their former victims ever get numerous enough to do what the gun-goons would do under the circumstances: Payback... 
 There's a book by Susan Falludi called "Terror Dreams," (2006/ 07?) in which she traces two threads of dread and anxiety common to colonists in "our" America: Indian raids and slave revolt. Guns gave the colonists the decisive advantage, in the long run. 
But the cost to the pretense of superiority of the numerical superiority of their antagonists pressed itself deeply into the cultural memory of the society, a memory that has been burnished by legendary accomplishments ascribed to mighty White warriors in conflict with the "others" they were displacing.

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