The Ballot vs. The Bullet.Mack Lyons Friday, May 25, 2012 ethnic relations, gun control, gun ownership, New Black Panther Party, politics, President Obama, Trayvon Martin
It's been established throughout history that there's nothing scarier to many Americans than the sight of a black man with a gun, let alone a large group of black men armed to the teeth. Often ignored is how gun ownership by white Americans surpasses other ethnic groups by a factor of 2.5 to 1. A black man with a gun is scary to many whites, but a white man with a gun is even scarier to most blacks, especially considering past and present news. If Trayvon Martin was alive, he'd attest to that very fact himself.
In fact, it was the New Black Panther Party agitating for "alternative justice" in regards to George Zimmerman that spurred on white American alarm, which included an offer by a Neo-Nazi group to keep an eye out on "anyone" who could potentially "cause problems." The Daily Caller recently glommed on a feature in the NBPP spring edition newsletter where columnist Chawn Kweli lamented how the election of President Barack Obama into office has yet to produce any visibly positive results for the black community. Given the backlash over having a man of distinctive color in the Oval Office and Trayvon Martin's death as a bellwether for ethnic relations in the U.S., I can understand this sentiment. It does seem as though Obama hasn't done enough, if anything, for the plight of black Americans in supposedly "post-racial" America.
The NBPP wonders if black Americans should stop relying on The Ballot and start using The Bullet to get their points across. I believe that could end up backfiring in a bad way. Blacks taking up The Bullet in significant numbers would be the stuff of survivalist/race realist/"real American" militia dreams, as it would be Card Blanche for those groups to finally put an end to America's "black problem" once and for all. Yes, plenty of people still think this way. In a country where weapons stockpiling is often a first response to any crisis, armed protest could be an especially bloody affair.
The beauty of Martin Luther King Jr's non-violent movement was that it took away any justification for opponents to respond to those organized gatherings with shocking amounts of violence. Actually, that's the beauty of any non-violent protest -- the armed-to-the-teeth group that does the beating (and occasionally, shooting) winds up the pariah/bad guy while the general public is outraged and shocked into supporting the unarmed group. It worked for Mohandas Gandhi, MLK Jr's Civil Rights movement, the suffragettes and currently, the Occupy Wall Street movement, although it's becoming not as effective due to a unique circumstance involving today's media.
Now, arm those same people and the armed group, usually law enforcement or some other state/corporate-backed group, now has justification for opening a can of whip-ass on that group. Once those folks start attacking the agents of orderly society, they receive a lot less sympathy from others. It's what the Palestinians have to deal with every time Hamas or Hezbollah does something against the IDF or the Israeli population. It's easy to convince people that someone or some group had it coming.
Considering how prevalent the narrative of blacks as criminals and dangerous beings is, it's extraordinarily easy to cast any black group that uses The Bullet as bad guys who must be stopped at all cost, to the exclusion of any message they happen to have. It's how the FBI's COINTELPRO was allowed to "neutralize" the original Black Panthers and other likeminded groups.
Something to think about: black gangs like the Piru, Crips and Gangsters Disciples are considered less harmful than the Black Panthers ever were. Now, give those groups a sense of unity with one another and a political focus, and suddenly they become targets for "neutralization." Not trying to go the conspiracy theory route, but it's something for people to chew on.
I'm not trying to persuade people into being passive and defenseless, but going the way of The Bullet™ out of frustration is a route that often dead ends at many dead and the clock of progress turned back a long ways. Who's to say that an armed response from black America wouldn't result in a frightened white American populace cosigning on the revival of segregation or worse still, a systematic genocide covered under the blanket of the War on Terror, with black Americans who display the slightest amount of uprightness being tagged a terrorist and fit for termination, accordingly?
Then again, who's to say that an armed response from black America wouldn't result in black Americans finally gaining some begrudging respect from a populace and a government that's done all it can to ignore and disrespect them, or hell, even their own slice of land in which they could peacefully govern autonomously and also once-and-for-all prove preconceived notions of black governance resulting in automatic failure wrong? The Native Americans who once had total control over parts of this nation could attest to how that turned out and how the U.S. is still bent on letting that problem "solve itself" via hands-off, slow-motion genocide
Still, I wouldn't mind if more black Americans who are able to own and carry firearms did so, if only to give those who are intent on doing them harm some pause. However, if black Americans were to suddenly purchase firearms, apply for concealed carry permits and open carry in significant numbers, the same people who are all about the right to bear arms as clearly delineated in the 2nd Amendment may very well end up being the first to advocate some sort of gun control scheme applied solely towards black Americans and other groups whom gun ownership is deemed undesirable by the majority. Laws that prohibit those with felony criminal records from gun ownership already behave this way, especially if you consider how black American men are more likely to have one than their white counterparts.
Meanwhile, I'm not throwing in the towel on The Ballot or Barack Obama. Given the political realities that came crashing down six months after his term began, the man has had to tread light in order to keep the appearance of being the entire nation's president and not just one who caters to "his own people.*" Once he secures his second term and becomes a "lame duck" who can afford to not give a damn, that's when people can accurately determine whether he has the heart to go to bat for black Americans. Keep in mind that black Americans shouldn't rely solely on the president when it comes to creating political change.
George Zimmerman's verdict could be the ultimate test of which way black Americans will turn. If he's convicted and sentenced to a reasonable prison term, blacks may be more inclined to stick with The Ballot. If he's pronounced "not guilty" and set free, there's a strong chance The Bullet will be the choice of many black Americans frustrated with a process that seems hell-bent on frustrating and destroying them.
*That blog post on tribalism and how it affects politics in America is still forthcoming.