The racist origins of gun control (updated)

February 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

blakpanthers

THERE’S THIS UBIQUITOUS propaganda meme that’s been circulating for a good while around the gun issue. It saw heavy use during the Clinton years, and friends of Obama have dug it up again, especially within the last year. It goes something like this:

“Our critics are all angry white men with guns who insist on their Constitutional rights. They are the problem with America. They’re dangerous! They’re scared of you black people. In fact, they’re itching to go out and kill you! WATCH OUT for those scary white men!”

For examples of this “White Peril” campaign, see the sports columnist who equated the National Rifle Association to the Ku Klux Klan. Faux-populist journalist Michael Moore chimed in as well.

For an example of the “freedom is racist” meme dressed up in its full pseudointellectual camouflage — proof that quack psychiatrist Richard Hofstadter still sneers at Middle America from the grave — see Abby Martin’s interview of Chris Hedges. The gun segment runs from around minutes 9 through 12.

Be afraid! Be very afraid of the White Peril. It lurks in the shadows of darkest Middle America, that vast trackless hinterland of red states that smart people from the coasts look down upon from airliners as they shuttle between their blue island metropoles. The place where, in the patronizing words of the current Oval Office occupant, white people cling to their guns and their religion because they’re “frustrated.” And, of course, “bitter.”

It’s too easy to point out the gaping fallacies in Hedges’ rant. It’s difficult to figure out what he might have been thinking. The Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter has, in some respects, at least, vociferously opposed Obama administration lies, hypocrisies and crimes, and he claims to oppose the encroaching police state. Yet, he demonizes the very group that would forestall the police state. And for all his background in reporting, it seems he’s never actually bothered to talk to or otherwise engage in any research on the racial attitudes or motives of the white gun owners he so casually slanders en masse. Nor does he seem to have the slightest clue of the gun ownership rates — legal or otherwise — among blacks and Hispanics.

What’s heartening is the healthy response this foolishness has reaped from the alternative media and the grassroots. If you click over to the Youtube page, you can see how many commenters — even those who said they were Hedges fans — slammed the pundit for his stupid statements.

However, Hedges and the other two figures I’ve mentioned seem to be part of an entire network of “leftist” political parrots (mockingbirds?) all screeching the same tune: Guns are racist! Whites are racist! The Constitution? (Except for the parts that we like . . . when we’re in the mood) Racistracistracist!

The effect of this propaganda is to frighten the target population into accepting repressive and illegal measures to disarm and/or harrass every one — red, yellow, black, or white — who would think of exercising her right and responsibility of self-defense. They are more likely to cry out for Big Brother and Sister’s all-encompassing “security” against the white bogeyman.

And of course, it has its immediate advantages as well. Obama wasn’t returned to office because of his glowing reviews from the first term. And he didn’t just get help from the usual fawning media, a clueless GOP and a lifeless mannequin of an opponent. The entire campaign was backed by a drumbeat of division and fear. Ominous talk about “whites lynching young black boys” (i.e. the almost-grown, strapping football player Trayvon Martin, who died under still-unclear circumstances); “racist” Stand Your Ground laws; an alleged “rising tide of neo-Nazi violence” (i.e., Wade Michael Page, Army psychological operations vet and Sikh temple murderer), the voter ID “controversy,” etc., combined with other complete fabrications such as the “War on Women” to help put Obama over the top.

So much for the propagenda. The truth is very different. The fact is, freedom is for every one — even black folks. And that civilian-disarmament laws were born in racist violence.

SLAVES, OF COURSE, were the subject of the first gun bans. Then, post-Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan made sure that laws were drawn up to keep the freedmen defenseless victims of Jim Crow and lynchings.

That’s right. No Guns for Negroes!

Isn’t it funny that the Obama administration, the colored people’s association that was founded and run for most of its history by white people, the ACLU, and the usual gang of media clowns whipped up such a furor over simple State voter ID laws — likening them, absurdly, to Jim Crow poll taxes — yet they clamor for taxes, restrictions and total bans on guns and ammunition that actually would unduly burden poor black folks, and which actually do have a disturbing history based in Jim Crow.

Also, see a few very instructive clips that we’ve cut from two talks by former members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, showing that the Panthers like many ’60s radicals viewed Constitutional rights as seamless: they were determined to exercise and defend all of them, including the right to carry arms openly, in defense of themselves and their communities and as a show of solidarity.

Carrying arms openly — even into the Statehouse, as the Panthers did — was fully legal under California’s Constitution and statutes; and until that time, it was taken for granted that the Second Amendment to the united States Constitution, with few exceptions, forbade the federal government from presuming to interfere with the use of arms, peaceful or not. It simply wasn’t — still isn’t — a federal issue.

The first clip features BPP founder and chairman Bobby Seale. (Not embeddable; right-click and open in a new tab or window.)

Second: During the 1968 riots following the King assassination, the young Jamal Joseph was protected by armed Panthers, who stared down riot-geared police officers ready to indiscriminately crack black kids’ heads or cart them off to jail.

Third: Joseph describes how the Panthers were the subject of ominous media reports of “rising militancy” (sound familiar?) as they made a habit of “patrolling the streets of Los Angeles with shotguns and law books.” At that period, the BPP’s objects were self-defense and informing people of their right and duty to protect their families and neighborhoods against racist cops, unequal enforcement of laws, and common criminals. By keeping law and order in their own communities, there would be less need to worry about police harassment and brutality.

(Here, Joseph’s entire talk. He’s introduced by outstanding filmmaker Tanya Hamilton, director of the Black Panther-inspired film Night Catches Us.)

Joseph observes that as the powers that be became alarmed at an organized, armed black citizen militia standing on their God-given and constitutionally protected rights, “they quickly moved to change the laws.” The Gun Control Act of 1968 was the second major push for federal intrusion into gun rights. The first, in 1934, had practically outlawed machine guns and sawed-off shotguns for civilians. The pretext in 1934 was a relatively small number of gang crimes — fueled, of course, by another oppressive and intrusive nanny-state policy called Prohibition. In 1968, it was the need to preserve “law and order” against black men with guns.

Another astonishing detail is how the entire 1968 Gun Control Law is based on a Nazi Weapons Law. You really can’t make this stuff up.

What has changed since 1968, and why are white men nominally the targets of disarmament today? Evidently, that the target population for disarmament has not changed so much as expanded. With the help of a so-called “war on drugs” and a “war on terror,” the program that was once beta-tested against the “niggers” has now been rolled out against the general American population. And, in the supreme irony, it’s all being deployed by an alleged black president. Whoever’s really in charge of all this must think it’s a hilarious joke: Now we’re all the niggers. And now, the Man comes with a tan.

UPDATE:“SO YOU ARE A Black Panther Party sympathizer?” Some have wondered. The aim here isn’t to sift through and pronounce upon the entire, contested history of the Black Panther Party (fascinating as that may be); nor to examine BPP ideology or the ways its members and factions shot themselves in the foot, so to speak; nor, again, to weigh various charges of infiltration and subversion via lovely federal operations such as COINTELPRO (a program that was not at all confined to black groups, nor to the New Left, nor to the past).

The point is the remarkable confluence between 1) poor and pissed-off inner-city blacks becoming a “problem,” 2) a subset of those taking full advantage of their legal rights under the Constitutions, State and federal, and 3) the white authorities deciding those rights needed to be rolled back in the name of “public safety” — a crucial impetus in the latter-day crusade for gun control.

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