Thursday, January 13, 2011

GUNstitution

So many things have happened over the past several weeks that it's hard to know where to begin.

During that time, we've had the tragic shootings in Arizona, leaving six dead and fourteen wounded; we've heard the president speak at a memorial for the fallen, praising heroes, and asking the country to live up to the innocent, idealistic vision of democracy that the youngest victim of the tragedy undoubtedly held--"nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, a little girl born the day of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks."

Rather than assign blame, the president urged Americans to "talk[...] with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."

Although the president didn't mention any group in particular, those on the Right expressed certainty that he was addressing his words to those on the Left.

As the Right has often done at times, using Martin Luther King's words to attack the Left, a similar thing is now occurring--the president's words are being used to silence dialog that might be critical in nature, rather than encouraging it: the very opposite of what the president intended.

Throughout his speech, the president struck a tone that even his most ardent critics couldn't use against him, even if they yearned to do so.

The brilliance of the president's remark, and his overall speech, is that either side may use them to find within them whatever they choose to find--perhaps the reason why the Right has collectively and individually embraced his speech.

And to add insult to injury: Some Republican pundits, while praising the president's words, are also criticizing the "raucous" environment and the "pep rally" atmosphere of the memorial, likening it to a "political rally" rather than a memorial.

So much for civility.

And why did congress allow the assault weapons ban to lapse, and along with it high-capacity ammunition clips? The answer may be found in an article titled, "Who Killed the Assault Weapons Ban?"

"House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) dismissed the ban as "a feel good piece of legislation" and flatly told the New York Times that it would expire even if Bush made an effort to renew it. "If the president asked me, it would still be no," he said. "He knows, because we don't have the votes to pass the assault weapons ban. It will expire Monday, and that's that."

"His role in ending the ban made DeLay a hero among gun nuts, who printed up bumper stickers that said, "I'm for NRA and Tom DeLay." The NRA invited DeLay to keynote its annual meeting in 2005, just as ethics investigations were ramping up against him. He took the podium and choked up slightly as he proclaimed: "I've been in elected office for 26 years, and this is the highlight of my career."

"Ever since, things have certainly been downhill for the Hammer. On Monday, DeLay was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Time will tell whether cohabitation with hardened criminals will temper his love for high-powered guns."


Karma can leave you kicking and screaming and ignored.

And although Sarah Palin in a video response to the Tucson shootings disavowed ("refudiated") any responsibility in the shootings (although Gabrielle Giffords, herself, had expressed concern about the gunsight image over her district), some Tea Party folk are threatening a black Republican, forcing him to resign his chairmanship:

The sole black Republican Party district chairman in Arizona resigned from his post in the wake of Saturday's shooting, citing threats from the Tea Party faction and concerns for his family's safety, The Arizona Republic first reported.

Republican District 20 Chairman Anthony Miller was not the only party official to resign following the shooting that killed six and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and a federal judge. But Miller had been an especially dedicated campaigner for the GOP, and said he only stepped down in the face of "constant verbal attacks" and other forms of intimidation.

"I wasn't going to resign but decided to quit after what happened Saturday," he said. "I love the Republican Party but I don't want to take a bullet for anyone."

Miller, 43, told HuffPost he decided to resign after his wife expressed concern for their safety. Miller had been the target of heavy criticism from Arizona Tea Partyers, in part because he worked on Sen. John McCain's campaign last fall. (The Tea Partyers favored McCain's opponent, J.D. Hayworth.)

But the attacks also took on a racial hue. One critic referred to him derogatorily as "McCain's boy," Miller said. Other language was even less ambiguous. At an event in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., Miller said someone called out, "There's Anthony, get a rope."

Yet Miller balks at crying racism.

"To say that anyone has been racially motivated, I can't really draw a conclusion," he said. "But a lot of people told me 'You're not a conservative, you're a RINO.' In my mind, that's just as bad as being called a n-----, honestly. When you call someone a n-----, it's saying they're less than, and RINO is the same thing."


One would think that, in the aftermath of this tragedy, the gun-control debate would be leaning toward fewer guns, and smaller-capacity clips, right? In a sane world perhaps. But ours is not a sane world. What the Right is proposing, instead, is the possession of more guns--on the floor of congress, and at political rallies.

"If only more guns, other than the shooter's, had been at the rally in Tucson that day," the Right ventures. Actually, there were other guns present. And one of those packing almost shot the wrong person, because he believed the one holding the gun, just wrested from the shooter, was the shooter. "I almost shot the man holding the gun," the man later averred.

More guns, then, could possibly have made matters worse--could have created a bedlam of mistaken intentions, and mistaken perpetrators.

"Political discourse doesn't lead to violence," so says the Right. But it's not any "discourse" that's under scrutiny, but discourse that uses references to violence, or violent images and imagery. Although we can't be certain if the poisonous political climate in Washington, D.C., and throughout the nation, triggered the violence in this case, we do know that it has spurred violence in the past. The death of Dr. Tiller readily comes to mind, but there are many other examples I could cite.

Regrettably, this nation is steeped in a gun culture. Even our Constitution was amended to highlight gun ownership:

Article [II]
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Although often quoted and referred to, the first part of Article II is often omitted. Even a cursory reading reveals that the first part of the Article is a prelude to the second part, and that the second part is justified, and supported, because of the necessity of the first.

With a national standing army provided for, you'd think that this necessity to "bear Arms" would have undergone an amendment of its own. At the very least, those who "keep and bear Arms" should be required to serve in the military, and stand at the ready to do so.

But the NRA would never stand for that. However, such a provision and requirement would, I'm sure, cut back on the number of guns in society, estimated to be around 293 million or so, almost one for every person.

As a kind of concession to the new members of the new congress, a large number of which are Tea Party disciples, the US Constitution was read aloud--although omitting the embarrassing parts, such as slavery.

Boyce Watkins, PhD, reflected on this gesture in an on-line article, offering the following observation:

"The language of the Tea Party has consisted mostly of thinly-veiled animosity thrust toward the black man in the Oval Office who doesn't seem to know his place. The idea of "taking back America" and 'returning America to its roots,' can be translated to saying that America isn't a country that's supposed to be run by that 'hoity-toity, high fallutin, black guy with the Muslim name.'"

Reading the Constitution aloud--despite its intent--seemed a colossal waste of time: before the reading was complete, the chamber was mostly empty.

So much for patriotism, and the recent enunciation from the Right that the Constitution would be strictly followed, and would form the basis for every new bill considered, and every law passed.

What can I say about the violence that seethe in this nation, which our love affair with guns has come to symbolize?

Violence is in our national DNA. This country was born in blood. And violence was used to extend this nation's boundaries from sea to shining sea. Violence brought slavery to these shores and violence maintained, and expanded this "peculiar institution," which saw a South grow both in wealth, and political power because of it.

Guns played no small part in the formation of this country, and its supremacy over all who would stand in its way. As a result, a Gunstitution existed right alongside our national constitution, each buttressing the other.

Small wonder, then, given our historical, national preoccupation with guns, that guns are still an indelible and intricate part of the fabric of this country, and an innate part of our national image:


"It [a Swiss study] said 80 per cent of the estimated 84 million firearms in Europe are in civilian hands, with Finland leading with 39 guns for every 100 citizens, followed by Norway with 36 guns, Sweden with 24 guns and Denmark with 18 guns.

"But the United States, which the study estimates has between 83 and 96 guns for every 100 people, still has far more guns per person than Europe, where the survey estimates there are 17.4 guns for every 100 people.

"The study said Americans are most armed in the world, followed by Finns and Yememis.

"The National Rifle Association, the leading U.S. group representing gun owners, says there are more than 200 million privately owned firearms in the United States. These guns are owned by about 60 million people, NRA statistics posted at the 4-million-member organization's website say."

13 comments:

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Those crazy folks did not pay the President's speech any attention. They don't care and they will not be satisfied until he is no longer in the "sacred WHITE" House. Nor are they going to go against NRA. They don't care how many people die. And it's ashame, but it is what it is.

I was reading your topics on good hair. Black folks need to start building more of their own businesses and stop making others outside of their community rich. We've done it before in the past and we can do it again. Oklahoma, Wilmington, a few other places, and even where my ancestors were from did it. So can we!

When I get a chance, I am going to email you. I'm coming down with some type of virus or cold and it has been giving me the blues. That cold weather had my bones aching. I'm getting a laptop soon, so I'll be able to sit in my bed and possibly be online more.

Greg L said...

BD,

Assault weapons are designed to kill humans not hunt deer. Like most legislation now, there's an economic component associated. A ban on assault weapons is going to cut into someone's profits and that can't happen. It's the same reason why the tea party focuses on something that accounts for 1/2 of 1% of spending (earmarks) while being ok with unbridled military spending. It's the same reason why the TARP was given to banks rather than let market forces pass out discipline.

Big money owns all legislation and their paid minions will do their bidding. It's really that simple.

Greg L said...

Forgot to check the box to get comments.

Black Diaspora said...

Hi, Granny:

On gun control: If congress does anything at all, we know it will be mostly cosmetic. One of my hopes is that congress can pass legislation to reduce the size of magazine clips.

It's too much to hope for another assault-weapons ban.

And, too, civility will last as long as Republicans can use it to score political points, and not a minute longer.

Only today, I learned that the NRA has stood in the way of congress approving a full-time director of the ATF, and that the number of ATF agents hasn't increased in years, but stands around 4900.

Yes, we used to invest in the black community and support black businesses, but that was before we became integrated, and yearned to spend our dollars where whites spent theirs.

On the black haircare industry, Greg L at his site, "The African-American Clarion Call," has highlighted the issue as well.

It's a good one. You can visit by clicking his site on my blogroll.

I'll be looking for your e-mail, Granny. Stay well. I'll include you in my prayers.

Black Diaspora said...

According to your Tea Party poster the Tea Party is going to fix all that ails the congress.

Your counterargument has been brilliant, but, true to form, he's a true believer and won't be swayed.

Money, corruption, and congress are interchangeable words. I'm told that a congressperson spends all of 3/4 of his or her time raising campaign funds.

With that kind of focus on money and being reelected, we shouldn't be surprised that the congress, to a man and a woman, goes to the highest bidder, with no regard for the people they say they represent.

You've said it many times, mostly in regard to our black leadership, to wit: He who pays calls the shots.

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

Off topic:

Have you been paying attention to the birds dropping dead out the air and fish dying all over the world? Something is in the air that they are not telling us about. People have been catching colds with runny noses that are a tad bit abnormal because they run nonstop.

They are coming up with all sorts of reasons for the birds and fish that do not make sense and for that fact is not logical such as:

Firecrackers, cold weather, Diesel Trucks, etc. I'm not buying it. Nope, something has been released in the air that is a slow toxic or biochemical. That's what I'm thinking.

msladydeborah said...

BD,

This is such a well written posting on a topic that is really the result of mass hysteria and madness.

Blinders Off said...

BD,

I agree with msladydeborah about this post.

IMO, the powers that be have this country just where they want it. We are living in a very disturbing time. However, we cannot let fear paralyze us.

To touch on what Granny said about the bird, fish, and people with running noses and terrible coughs. I too think something has been released into the air. There are many people here in TN with those symptoms, me included. I thought I was getting better after spending more than a week in the house and bed. After being out in the air yesterday for the first time in about two weeks to take care of some business, the same symptoms manifested again this morning. It does make me wonder what is in the air I am breathing outdoors.

Black Diaspora said...

@msladydeborah

It's good to hear from you!

I agree. It's always been there, just below the surface, this "mass hysteria and madness;" it just needed the right circumstances to bring it forth--to cause it to emerge.

Decisions made within its grasp could deliver a fatal blow to all we hold dear.

For those who lead us, this is the time to respond with wisdom, lest "madness" prevails.

Black Diaspora said...

@Granny: "They are coming up with all sorts of reasons for the birds and fish that do not make sense...."

First it was the honeybees that were disappearing, threatening our agricultural industry.

I often find dozens of them dead for no apparent reason. They just fall in mid-flight.

Like you, I think the government knows more than it's telling us.

The news media is so compromised that it's useless--they don't investigate the way they used to. I can't think of a time more grave than this time for this "fourth branch of the government" to desert us.

Black Diaspora said...

Blinders Off said...
"BD,

"I agree with msladydeborah about this post."

Thanks Blinders Off.

"We are living in a very disturbing time. However, we cannot let fear paralyze us."

Well said. What's need is wisdom from the highest offices. Online prayer groups have formed, and are forming, to pray not only for the president, but for the congress as well.

A misstep at this level, and all of us will suffer the consequences--immediately and long-term.

Black Diaspora said...

Blinders Off said...
"It does make me wonder what is in the air I am breathing outdoors."

We know that we're the target of a terrorist attack. Our enemies could resort to a biological attack (and we're seeing a trial run to fine-tune it), and of course our own government could be developing its own biological weapons that may have gone astray.

I think I'll research this topic at a site I frequent occasionally that often delve into this sort of thing. If I learn anything I'll blog about it.

Right now, I don't want to alarm anyone, but urge us all to "watch, watch, watch, work, and pray."

Black Diaspora said...

A redaction: Where you read "biological," read "chemical and biological."