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.
Anger, as Ewan McKenna says in this week’s brilliant Black Eye podcast, has a shelf-life, and we would do as well to observe and take in as much as we can while it burns at its brightest.
Many things are obvious – the irony of protests against police brutality being met with even more overwhelming and widespread police brutality cannot be lost on anyone watching a TV this week – and some are less so.
And some are blindingly, staggeringly obvious, yet are either ignored or somehow unseen.
The protests at the murder of George Floyd (and yes, it was murder, as one man has been charged with it and three for aiding and abetting it) in a massive misuse of state power have shown us that the Second Amendment is not about protecting people from the violence of tyrannical state.
It is about protecting white people from having to concede that their fellow citizens are equal.
An old man violently pushed to the ground by a police officer in Buffalo, his skull splitting open.
A homeless man in a wheelchair in Los Angeles shot in the face with a laughably-named “non-lethal” round.
Journalists arrested and assaulted live on air.
And yet, not once have the “patriots”, who arm themselves to the teeth at Dick’s Sporting Goods and who were out cosplaying in camouflage over their inalienable right to get their mullet trimmed just a few short weeks ago, responded.
Not when a man was executed in the street for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill.
Not when the First Amendment rights of reporters and journalists, and indeed fellow citizens, were being trampled under the jackboots of the police and National Guard.
And not when innocent people were being left bruised and blinded by rubber bullets, batons and tear gas.
Nor did any African-American pick up their legally-owned weapon and go out to defend their community, invoking the Second Amendment rights that are supposed be vindicated in exactly these kinds of situations.
That’s because this is not about the “tyranny of the state”, and hasn’t been since the Boston Tea Party.
It is about preserving the structures of white power, where white people prosper because they control the police and thus the state’s monopoly on violence which is used to vindicate their rights at the expense of others.
View the social media footage of police actions this week. Take away the uniforms (they’ve already covered up their badge numbers), and what do you see?
You see armed gangs intimidating and brutally beating protestors for having the temerity to protest racial injustice.
“Ah, but the rioters! The looters! The mindless violence!” they intone, while never distinguishing who is doing what.
One doesn’t have to make too generous an interpretation to see that, in many cases, it is police that are instigating the violence, often under the guise of enforcing arbitrary curfews that effectively suspend many of the rights guaranteed in the constitution so allegedly beloved by the cosplaying cowards.
The looting is also worth a close look. Forget Target – zoom out just a little and you will see that Africa was looted of its people, but no armed man or woman stood guard to vindicate the rights of these slaves; in fact, they hunted those who escaped from slavery as if they were animals, looting their freedom, their dignity and their future, not to mention that of their children, for generations
The “mindless violence” of crowds is only mindless if you do not wish to consider or understand where it comes from.
If you do, you will find that riots are in fact complex social events with shared boundaries set depending on social contexts and power dynamics.
There are no singular “flash-points” that suddenly cause them; riots are a result of tension built up over time, in this case a pressure-cooker of injustice that exploded with the death of George Floyd, but that can be traced from 1619 through the murder of Clifford Glover in 1973 through those of Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin and thousands of others, culminating in the knee on George Floyd’s neck.
Of course, all this is of little interest to a goober with an AR-15 who is petrified of pulling the trigger unless it’s a black child in his sights, or a man with skewed notions of “law and order” who is only protected from prison by a badge and the colour of his skin.
All they are interested in is preserving the status quo. After two terms of a black president, they voted in their droves for a racist demagogue to redress the balance and claw back what it was they felt they had lost.
That racist demagogue has not disappointed them.
America has always been a paradox; “discovered” by Europeans fleeing persecution at home in search of “freedom”, who then set up a rigid society based on norms and notions of morality, white supremacy and closely-guarded power and property rights.
It claims to be the “land of the free and the home of the brave”, but all too often it incarcerates and oppresses to protect the privilege of the spineless mediocrities who outwardly profess faith in the “free market” but inwardly fear it because it would expose the comical myth of their superiority.
In a democracy, the state’s monopoly on violence is accepted by the citizens, but only to a point; when that monopoly is turned against the citizens and the descent into dictatorship and oppression begins, there is a window in which the citizenry can use the threat of its own violence to arrest or reverse that slide.
In America, the guys and gals with the guns are standing idly by while the protestors are beaten off the streets. What they see is the police as vindicating their personal and property rights, so there is no need to intervene.
But the biggest betrayal is yet to come.
For decades, they have been flattered into believing that they can defend themselves against state tyranny by keeping some guns and ammo handy.
The oppression of America, hardwired into its policing, did not apply to them; the “well-regulated militia”, as they see themselves, could rest easy.
The truth is that the might of the now-militarised police will crush them if and when the time comes. The warm feeling of power they get from clutching the bump-stock of an automatic weapon to their shoulder gives them a false sense of security; for all the firearms in American society, they are hopelessly, overwhelmingly and inevitably outgunned by the police.
White supremacy is not about the supremacy of all white people; it is about the supremacy of some white people – the powerful, the manly, the fearless, whose destiny it is to lord it over the weak, be they people of colour or women or lily-livered liberals who are to be swatted aside, trampled in the dirt of the progress of the privileged.
But as the situation gets more serious, the definition gets narrower and narrower until such time as the “supremacists” wind up in an exclusive club too small and weak to defend itself before finally, grudgingly being subsumed back into society.
Anger does indeed have a shelf-life, thus the need for those who seek to right injustices to strike while the iron is hot.
If they don’t, the cost of this will be enormous, but this is not new; minorities have been paying it on the never-never since the foundation of the republic. Soon, however, those who thought they were immune will have to cough up too, and it is then that the lies of their “freedom” and “supremacy” will be exposed.
In America, you can be anything you want to be, as long as it is compliant.
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