Monday, December 24, 2012

The Gun-Control Discussion and Racial Subtexts: Reminders of Little Rock's Central High Crisis, 1957

Phonte tweets,

Let people of color start joining the NRA in droves and becoming gun nuts to protect our neighborhoods. Regulation would happen SWIFTLY.

And he's right, of course, though saying these things out loud makes many of us extremely uncomfortable. Just as it makes us uncomfortable to note that there's also a gendered, and frequently unacknowledged, subtext in our national discussion about gun control and gun-fueled violence.

The racial subtext to the gun-control discussion is on my mind these days, as Matt Pearce reminds readers of the Los Angeles Times of the hysteria that spread through my community in 1957, when President Eisenhower had to call out the National Guard to protect black students integrating our Central High School, and as some local citizens circulated rumors that folks were seeking to outlaw the singing of "White Christmas" that year.

As Pearce also notes, it was in the context of the Central High crisis, when armed soldiers had to protect young people going to school, that Eisenhower famous observed, "It will be a sad day for this country -- both at home and abroad -- if schoolchildren can safely attend their classes only under the protection of armed guards."

Certain American challenges, including the challenge to overcome racial division, seem to remain both constant and well-nigh intractable over the course of long periods of American history, and some of them seem to have become more intractable in recent years, due to the "bubble-thinking" of some media outlets including FOX news. As Charles Pierce argues, this bubble-thinking, freely abetted as it is by FOX and other right-wing news venues, is creating an idiot nation, and the idiocy is not charming or entertaining--it's downright dangerous:

The bubble exists, and it is goddamn dangerous. It clearly was dangerous to Mitt Romney as a politician because it kept him from believing he was in trouble, right up to the moment they called the election the other way. The bubble is created when we go into denial that there are consequences to believing nonsense.

My naive Christmas wish this year? Less idiocy and more thinking outside the bubbles of idiocy. Fewer ranting and raving belligerent men in positions of power and influence and more women. And a world in which everyone's children black white green yellow gay or straight will be valued equally.

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