Guns and white supremacy: Regulating one won’t end the other

Right quick:

If you are looking to end white supremacy, regulating guns is not the answer. Yes, obviously, guns should be highly regulated, but white supremacy is not contingent on the legality of guns. If you could go back in time and erase guns from this country’s history, Black Wall Street would still be gone. Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Heather Heyer and countless victims before, in between and since would all still have been murdered. Hate will find a way.

Guns and white supremacy are intertwined, but two different issues. Just look at Switzerland. That country has a whole lot of guns, but nowhere near the level of gun violence that we have here in America. That’s because there is a deep cultural difference between Switzerland and the USA: white supremacy. I’m not saying that Switzerland doesn’t have racism. It absolutely does, but unlike the USA, white supremacy is not the foundation, cornerstone, and lead paint under the cheap vinyl siding of Switzerland. The Swiss essentially view themselves as one people. That view combined with their general sense of patriotism means that they look at their guns as a means to protect each other from outside forces, whereas we Americans look at our guns as a means to protect ourselves from each other—or most often as a means to protect whiteness from the rest of us.

What makes this so confusing is that white supremacy is the spider’s web that links almost every other social issue. For example, white supremacy was the means by which a private citizen unprecedentedly forced a sitting president to publicly display his birth certificate. It was white supremacy that (in one way and another) then appointed that white supremacist, private citizen to the presidency. Because of that white supremacist appointment, the rights of women and trans people and gay people and literally everyone (and I mean everyone) in the country are now being dismantled if not absolutely shredded.

That white supremacist web is growing, being weaved faster than ever as the president’s words inspire killings, his policies spread oppression, and his administration deliberately disregards white supremacy in its entirety. And it’s blocking even the most common-sense gun legislation.

So, again, if you are looking to end white supremacy, regulating guns is not the answer. But if you’re looking to stop the violence in this country, ending white supremacy will go a long way.

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The Ouroboros that is racial (and religious) dog whistles

Do you wonder why Obama hasn’t endorsed Biden yet? Before I answer that, lemme lay some groundwork…

As you probably remember, most of the racist attacks against President Obama weren’t directly attacks on his skin color. Racists are too milquetoast to do that. A good portion of that racism was aimed at Obama’s supposed religion, Islam. They called him a secret Muslim so much that republican candidates still thought it was a good strategy as recently as last year’s midterms.

Now, calling Obama a Muslim did a few things. First, it singled out his race, sounding the alarm that he was not white, because we think of Islam as exclusively non-white in this country. Secondly, it declared him an enemy of America, a story we have consistently told ourselves about Muslims in this country for nearly 30 years. Lastly, in doing those two things, they doubled-down on the idea that to be non-white in this country is to be an enemy of the state as well as an enemy of the (white) people. If we can learn anything from the republican response to the Obama administration, it’s that if a dog whistle hits the right pitch it can get all the dogs barking.

Believe it or not, another president went through something surprisingly similar.

It wasn’t long ago that people of Irish and Italian descent were not considered white in this country. One of the ways white people would dog whistle about the Irish and Italians was to talk about “Catholics.” John F. Kennedy was of course, of Irish descent and so his Catholicism became a major talking point against him. Many white Americans openly said that, if elected, JFK would not represent the American people so much as work as an agent of the Vatican. Really. So many people believed this that, in an era of scarce screen time, Kennedy was forced to make a televised speech addressing his Catholicism. But since the actual problem was his Irishness and not his religion, that wouldn’t be enough to persuade the (white) American people. No. In order for them to leave their prejudice outside of the ballot box, JFK would need to be vouched for.

Enter: Lyndon Baines Johnson, a definitively white senator from a former slave state, with a reputation built on segregation and racism. With LBJ as the VP, JFK would be vouched for, his Irishness put in check, and white America would be put at ease, allowing the duo into the White House.

So, if you wonder why Obama hasn’t endorsed Biden yet or why Obama tried to talk Biden out of running in 2016, you will probably find your answer in 2008. Looking back at the difficulties involved in attempting to be the first Black president, you are likely to see a similarity between him and the first “Catholic” president. If you were to look at Biden in 2008 you would likely find a definitively white senator from a former slave state with a reputation built on segregation and racism and the perfect person to vouch for Barrack Hussein Obama.

Unfortunately, that vouching goes both ways as now Biden is thought of as far more progressive than his record shows and far more contemporary than he exclusively behaves. And if that’s not enough of an Ouroboros for you, you should know that if elected, Joe Biden would be the second of only two Catholic American presidents.

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The democracy is dead but it can be resuscitated

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The bad news is that we are no longer a democracy. And no, this isn’t some kind of cute, semantic quibble about how we’re actually a republic or whatever. I mean the systems by which the United States government represents its citizens are no longer functioning. Our current president lost the popular vote. Even though he represents only a minority of Americans, he has stacked the Supreme Court as well as the federal bench. Also, democrats have won more votes during the past three senate runs, yet continue to be the minority. On top of it all, gerrymandering and voter suppression continue to solidify minority rule and distance us from actual democracy.

Yeah. It’s real bad. Pre-apocalypse kind of bad. It’s the kind of bad you read about in history books and think, How did they not see this? Why didn’t they do anything about it? The answer here is actually pretty simple: racism. We’ve never dealt with the problem and now the problem deals with us. If you actually look, it’s pretty easy to see. Every single social issue currently fucking up the world, from climate change to addiction to wealth inequality has already been experienced by Black and brown people as a whole for years. Political representation is not something Black and brown people have ever truly known in the USA. As a country, we now constantly talk about the loss of truth or the lack of belief in things like science, but neither truth nor things like science have ever been permitted to exist for Black or brown people. This country has set a moral precedent and if your morals can exclude one kind of person, then you will eventually and happily exclude another. And another.

Unfortunately, it’s probably all going to get much worse. This is because the problems are systemic, but we behave as though they’re personal. We like to think that we can persuade conservatives out of their conservatism. We act as though the problem is that our shitty uncles just haven’t thought it through. This, of course disregards the fact that conservatism is a fraud and conservatives are cowards and liars. And I absolutely mean #yesallconservatives. Trump’s very existence proves this at every moment.  

Religious conservatives support him, despite the fact that everything about him is and has always been antithetical to Christianity. Fiscal conservatives support him despite the fact that his entire, very public life has only ever shown him to be the very definition of financially irresponsible.

Conservatives will claim patriotism as reason to support Trump despite his proud mocking of the most respected POWs as well as Gold Star Families, not to mention the fact that he openly favors the undermining our elections by foreign powers.

Conservative claims of national security as justification for border walls and Muslim bans are undone by the federally known truth that the biggest threat to the country comes from within our borders.

But this is not just hypocrisy. And, while the fact that these people are totally willing to hurt themselves over and over and over again in support of Trump makes it seem as though stupidity is the problem, but that’s not the entire story, either. There’s something else that ties them all together.

What ties all forms of conservatism together, the thing that their collective actions never falter on is their shared racism. That’s it. That’s all conservatism is. Naturally, they claim otherwise, but as is the case with every coward and liar, their actions contradict their claims.

And of course, along with the racism comes misogyny and homophobia and transphobia and on and on. Their goal is and always has been to prohibit and restrict the rights of others, to go backward—and as long as they have a legitimate voice in politics, that is what they will continue to do. On that path authoritarianism is inevitable.

Now the good news: they are a minority. It may not seem that way due to their over-representation in our political systems and media, but it’s true. That means attacking the systems can result in an actual democracy. But what will never result in a return to democracy is you trying to change your shitty uncle’s mind. You can’t convince him not to be shitty any more than he can convince you to be shitty. Don’t let him distract you. Instead, go here, and here, and here and give your time and/or money.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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Image by Filip Bunkens from Unsplash