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“If I Only Had A Gun…”: It’s Clear To Me Now, Jewish Civilians With Revolvers And Hunting Rifles Would Have Made All The Difference

Of course. It makes perfect sense. Why couldn’t I see it before?

There could never have been a Holocaust had the Jews been armed. Granted, the Nazis swept aside the armies of Poland and France like dandruff, and it took six years for Great Britain — later joined by Russia and the United States — to grind them down. But surely Jewish civilians with revolvers and hunting rifles would have made all the difference.

Much as I’d love to take credit for that insight, I can’t. No, it comes from presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson in a recent interview with CNN. “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson said.

This has become a recurrent theme on the political right, the idea that unarmed victims of violence are to blame for their own troubles. And not just in the Holocaust. Rush Limbaugh said two years ago that if African Americans had been armed, they wouldn’t have needed a Civil Rights Movement. The founder of so-called “Gun Appreciation Day” said, also two years ago, that had the Africans been armed, there could have been no slavery.

There’s more. When nine people recently died at a mass shooting in Oregon, Ted Nugent declared that any unarmed person thus killed is a spineless “loser.” Carson seems to agree. “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” he said. Or, as Clint Eastwood says in Unforgiven when Gene Hackman complains that he just shot an unarmed man: “Well, he should’ve armed himself…”

It’s so clear to me now. Guns don’t take lives, they save them. Guns make everything better. Carson is a surgeon, not an optometrist, but golly gosh, he’s sure opened my eyes.

As a friend recently observed, what if Trayvon Martin had had a gun? Then he could have killed the “creepy-ass cracker” who was stalking him. Surely, the court would have afforded him the same benefit of the doubt they gave George Zimmerman, right?

And what if the men on Titanic had been armed? That tragedy might have had a happier ending:

LOOKOUT
Iceberg dead ahead!

CAPTAIN
No time to port around it. Get your guns, men! We’re making ice cubes out of this sucker!

KATE WINSLET
Jack, is that a Colt in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

LEONARDO DICAPRIO
It’s a Colt, woman. Now, stand aside.

Hey, what if Jesus had been armed?

“Thou wisheth to nail me to what? I think not. Come on, punks. Maketh my day!”

The possibilities are endless. So I’ve taken the liberty of composing a new campaign song for Carson, to the tune of “If I Only Had a Heart” from The Wizard of Oz:

When a man’s an empty holster, no courage does he bolster
No confidence is won
What a difference he’d be makin’, he could finally stop his quakin’
If he only had a gun

He could stand a little straighter with that ultimate persuader
And wouldn’t that be fun?
He could put an end to static with a semiautomatic
If he only had a gun

Can’t you see, how it would be?
Woe would avoid his door
The crazy guy would pass him by
Or else he’d shoot — and shoot some more

Oh, the shootin’ he’d be doin’, and all the ballyhooin’
The way the folks would run
His life would be so merry in a world of open carry
If he only had a gun

If you think Carson might like the song, I would not mind at all if you shared it with him: http://www.bencarson.com/contact.

What’s that? You think I’ve lost my mind? You’re calling me crazy? Boy, that makes me so mad I can hardly control myself!

If I only had a gun…

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, October 19, 2015

October 20, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Civil Rights Movement, Gun Violence, Holocaust | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Consistently Stirring Up Racial Animus”: Right Wing Media And Their “Racialized Political Fodder”

In what is purported to be Dylann Roof’s “manifesto,” he writes that this is where it all began:

The event that truly awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. I kept hearing and seeing his name, and eventually I decided to look him up. I read the Wikipedia article and right away I was unable to understand what the big deal was. It was obvious that Zimmerman was in the right. But more importantly this prompted me to type in the words “black on White crime” into Google, and I have never been the same since that day. The first website I came to was the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Reading that reminded me of how Ta-Nehisi Coates meticulously laid out the process by which the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman became “racialized political fodder” for right wing media.

The reaction to the tragedy was, at first, trans-partisan. Conservatives either said nothing or offered tepid support for a full investigation—and in fact it was the Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who appointed the special prosecutor who ultimately charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. As civil-rights activists descended on Florida, National Review, a magazine that once opposed integration, ran a column proclaiming “Al Sharpton Is Right.” The belief that a young man should be able to go to the store for Skittles and an iced tea and not be killed by a neighborhood watch patroller seemed uncontroversial…

The moment Obama spoke, the case of Trayvon Martin passed out of its national-mourning phase and lapsed into something darker and more familiar—racialized political fodder. The illusion of consensus crumbled. Rush Limbaugh denounced Obama’s claim of empathy. The Daily Caller, a conservative Web site, broadcast all of Martin’s tweets, the most loutish of which revealed him to have committed the unpardonable sin of speaking like a 17-year-old boy. A white supremacist site called Stormfront produced a photo of Martin with pants sagging, flipping the bird. Business Insider posted the photograph and took it down without apology when it was revealed to be a fake.

Newt Gingrich pounced on Obama’s comments: “Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be okay because it wouldn’t look like him?” Reverting to form, National Review decided the real problem was that we were interested in the deaths of black youths only when nonblacks pulled the trigger. John Derbyshire, writing for Taki’s Magazine, an iconoclastic libertarian publication, composed a racist advice column for his children inspired by the Martin affair. (Among Derbyshire’s tips: never help black people in any kind of distress; avoid large gatherings of black people; cultivate black friends to shield yourself from charges of racism.)

The notion that Zimmerman might be the real victim began seeping out into the country, aided by PR efforts by his family and legal team…In April, when Zimmerman set up a Web site to collect donations for his defense, he raised more than $200,000 in two weeks, before his lawyer asked that he close the site and launched a new, independently managed legal-defense fund…

…Before President Obama spoke, the death of Trayvon Martin was generally regarded as a national tragedy. After Obama spoke, Martin became material for an Internet vendor flogging paper gun-range targets that mimicked his hoodie and his bag of Skittles… Before the president spoke, George Zimmerman was arguably the most reviled man in America. After the president spoke, Zimmerman became the patron saint of those who believe that an apt history of racism begins with Tawana Brawley and ends with the Duke lacrosse team.

There you have it, folks. Because President Obama simply said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” the right wing media in this country went into a frenzy. That’s when they got Roof’s attention. The rest was up to the white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Dylann Storm Roof is certainly responsible for his own horrific actions this past week. But we can’t ignore the way the right wing media has consistently stirred up racial animus amongst their viewers/listeners at every turn over the last seven years.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 20, 2015

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Council of Conservative Citizens, Racism, Right Wing Media, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Mike Huckabee’s Confused Morality”: White Privilege And The Limits Of Public Forgiveness

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks in Iowa in April. The GOP presidential candidate was quick to voice his support for Josh Duggar, who this past week admitted to having molested children while a teenager.

In America, public forgiveness is largely dependent on race. In the weeks after Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August, pundits and media outlets were quick to jump on a robbery Brown allegedly committed minutes before being fatally shot. Among them was 2016 hopeful Mike Huckabee, who told NewsMax TV, “It’s a horrible thing that he was killed, but he could have avoided that if he’d have behaved like something other than a thug.” For Huckabee, (alleged) theft was grounds for death.

That is, if you look a certain way. Contrast these statements with Huckabee’s recent defense of reality TV regular Josh Duggar, who admitted last week to having molested young girls as a teenager in 2002 and 2003. The 27-year-old son of Jim Bob and Michelle, Josh Duggar is a star of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, and was executive director of the Family Research Council—a right-wing organization that prides itself on family values—until last week after news of his crimes went public. TLC quickly pulled episodes from their line-up.

After the story broke, Huckabee wasted no time. “Janet and I want to affirm our support for the Duggar family,” he posted to Facebook less than a day after Duggar went public. “Josh’s actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, ‘inexcusable,’ but that doesn’t mean ‘unforgivable.’ Good people make mistakes and do regrettable and even disgusting things.”

Huckabee’s sentiment was echoed by Duggar’s parents and wife, who together released a statement on Facebook on May 21. The word “teen” was used four times and “mistake” was used three. Not long after, fans of 19 Kids and Counting went to the Duggar family Facebook page to voice their support for the admitted sexual abuser. But the statement of support from Huckabee, who has been close with the Duggars since they endorsed and campaigned for his 2008 presidential bid, was the strongest. Sexual abuse may be a crime, yet for a straight, white, Christian man, it seems sympathy has no bounds.

And if you fall outside of these categories, forgiveness only goes so far. From Ferguson to Baltimore to Sanford, Florida, when victims of police violence make headlines, major media scurry to dig up the often petty mistakes of their past. How many times was Trayvon Martin called a “thug”? Before his family could even bury his body, The New York Times declared that Michael Brown was “no angel.” Even 12-year-old Tamir Rice was smeared for having an abusive father. For daring to be black and exist, their names were tarnished by white America, even in death. 

But if as a teenager you molested children, even presidential candidates will give you a pass—at least, if you’re white and male.

And, it seems, even if your crimes include a cover-up. According to the police report, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar knew their son had committed these crimes. They met with church members and sent Duggar off to help a friend remodel homes—their version of counseling. They believed that this was the help their family needed. Who knows what kind of help the victims were offered—stories like these are tragic and my heart aches for the victims, who will hopefully receive any help that they want or need. For Duggar’s part, aside from his career, he’s pretty much off the hook: Arkansas law mandates child sexual abuse charges be filed within three years (Duggar’s crimes were committed in his home state of Arkansas). With charges never filed, Duggar will face no prosecution.

Of course the same is not true for millions of black Americans, who routinely face prosecution, violence, and even death at the hands of police for often minor or nonexistent crimes. Adding to this confused morality, in January, Huckabee criticized Barack and Michelle Obama for letting their teenage daughters listen to pop juggernaut Beyoncé, calling her music mental poison. If you are keeping score, listening to Beyoncé: bad parenting. Sexual abuse: forgivable.

When you’re straight, white, Christian, and male, even horrific crimes can be forgiven. When you’re a black teenager who has been accused of shoplifting, you’re a thug—your life has no value. White privilege is being a sexual abuser and finding more support than a 12-year-old shot by police while playing in a park.

 

By: Nathalie Baptiste, The American Prospect, May 28, 2015

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Josh Duggar, Mike Huckabee, Sexual Asault | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Washington, Carver, And… Zimmerman”: We Can’t Let Our Heroes Be Vilified By The Mainstream Liberal Media

As George Zimmerman finds himself in the news again for yet another charge of domestic violence, I am reminded of the thing that baffled me most in this bizarre series of events. It wasn’t just that Zimmerman was acquitted; it was his elevation to hero status amongst many of the citizens of this country. And he didn’t even have to cross the Delaware River to surprise the Hessian forces at Trenton, or even discover 300 uses for peanuts. To become a hero, all Zimmerman had to do was shoot an unarmed black teenager.

That’s all it took for one group of people in this country to back him, the diehard supporters of the Second Amendment. You know; the group that ignores the first line of the Second Amendment and thinks our forefathers were specifically referring to their personal right to own assault rifles. The group that was angry at 20 six-year-old kids for having the nerve to get killed, which might affect the number of rounds their magazines can carry.

After all, the Second Amendment says nothing of being responsible, so apparently you can’t support the amendment without supporting every bizarre case of someone using a firearm to kill someone else, especially if it’s an unarmed black teen, because we all know that person will eventually become an unarmed black man.

Zimmerman has been given the royal treatment ever since, beginning with the police not pressing charges or even opting to do an investigation. It was this no-harm-no-foul attitude that prompted national outrage. Hence a theatrical trial was put on to appease the masses.

Immediately people in this country began sending money to their hero, somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000. After all, we can’t let our heroes be vilified by the mainstream liberal media.

And everyone in this country is entitled to representation, usually in the form of a court-appointed attorney. But not for Zimmerman. He received representation from a million-dollar lawyer, Mark O’Mara, who has stated that he still hasn’t received one penny for his services. But that doesn’t matter; he’s representing a hero who shot an unarmed black teen. Heck, why is that even against the law?

On to the theater as the trial commenced. I wondered how the prosecutors could win this case without it making them look incompetent or of showing favoritism for not pressing charges to begin with. Maybe that explains their effort, or lack thereof, during the play… uh, I mean trial.

For example, Zimmerman’s wife did not even testify to the fact that she had left George the day before and he was very upset about that. But really, what does a person’s state-of-mind have to do with their actions? Heck, he was even referred to as a Neighborhood Watch captain by everyone, including the media, even though he was not actually part of any chapter, and Neighborhood Watch volunteers are not allowed to carry weapons. Hence the word “watch.”

And when the defense presented an “expert” witness to testify that a 29-year-old, five-feet-nine, 220 pound man toting a loaded Kel Tec 9 millimeter pistol was no physical match for a 17-year-old, six-feet-one, 140 pound boy carrying a pack of Skittles, his testimony was not even questioned. And we all know of disclosure, so the prosecution had to know what this person would testify to.

I can find no studies that show that a four-inch height difference gives a person any advantage at all in a physical confrontation. In professional boxing, four inches means nothing. It is strictly the weight that matches opponents. So why was this “expert” testimony not questioned?

After the trial, Zimmerman’s status as a hero continued with his tour of the facility that manufactured the gun that he used. What a proud moment that must have been for the company to not only have someone purchase their product, but use it to kill an unarmed black teen.

Then, in perhaps the most bizarre of all events associated with this craziness, Zimmerman listed a painting on eBay, a painting that looked like a PhotoShop rendering of a clipart image with patriotic words added, and it sold for over $100.000. That means someone out there dished out that kind of dough just to own something from their hero, because the actual value of the painting from an artistic perspective would probably be under a buck.

I guess I’m from the proverbial old school. I remember when heroes were scrutinized just a little more. I remember when that term was reserved for people who did extraordinary things like firemen who rush into burning buildings to save lives, or soldiers who give their all to save a fallen friend or to protect our country, or any number of events where ordinary people put their own safety at risk to help others

But here we have George Zimmerman, and when all the dust is settled, we have a man who has done nothing out of the ordinary other than face several charges of violence and walked away as if made of Teflon. The only other thing George Zimmerman ever did in his life that was of note that makes him different than almost every other citizen of this country, was to shoot an unarmed black teenager.

And that, to millions, makes him a hero.

 

By: Neal Wooten, The Blog, The Huffington Post, January 13, 2014

January 13, 2015 Posted by | Criminal Justice System, Domestic Violence, George Zimmerman | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Internalized Fear Of Black Males”: ‘Confirmation Bias’ Has Long History Of Helping Whites Demonize Blacks

Does “confirmation bias” influence the way whites think about police shootings of young men of color?

This bias is the tendency to interpret or remember information in a way that confirms what we already believe, and helps us to ignore new data. And it may explain the tension between white cops and black kids — and the public reaction to them — more than outright racism does.

Many of us think police must be in the right because we have internalized a fear of black males and assume that they are up to no good.

As Harvard sociologist Charles Ogletree has pointed out, “Ninety-nine percent of black people don’t commit crimes, yet we see the images of back people day in, day out, and the impression is that they’re all committing crimes.”

Young black males in recent years were at 21 times greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts, reports ProPublica, which analyzed federal data this year. It found that in “1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012, blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million,” compared with 1.47 per million white males in that age range.

Roger J.R. Levesque of Indiana State University says that eyewitnesses to crimes generally report scenarios that are consistent with confirmation bias. Among the studies he cites is one in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology that found merely seeing a black face led subjects to be more likely to mistake objects for weapons.

In Ferguson, Mo., the white officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, described Brown as demon-like. Would he have used such a word if the teenager had been white?

Confirmation bias undoubtedly helped the defense in the 2013 trial in the death of Trayvon Martin. Lawyers successfully “thuggized” the black teenager, who was walking home carrying candy and a bottle of tea when he was shot by a white neighborhood watch member. Martin had no criminal record, but the defense dug up some minor problems he had in school and made an animated video showing him attacking the white man who shot him. There was no actual evidence that the unarmed teenager started the fight. But jurors clearly bought that narrative.

Throughout U.S. history, confirmation bias has helped some white people use the image of the evil black man for their own ends. The “Willie Horton” TV ad caused a huge controversy when it ran during the 1988 presidential race between George H.W. Bush and Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. The ad featured a fearsome-looking mug shot of a black convict who raped a woman while free under a Massachusetts prison furlough program backed by Dukakis. The ad was intended to picture Dukakis as soft on crime, and it worked.

Whites trying to escape punishment for their crimes sometimes find black men convenient scapegoats, because they are so readily seen as prone to crime. In 1989, a Boston white man, Charles Stuart, was shot in a black neighborhood in the city, along with his pregnant wife. He blamed a “black male.” His wife and son, who was delivered prematurely, later died.

News coverage was extremely sympathetic until evidence surfaced indicating that Stuart shot his wife and himself.

In 1994, Susan Smith, a South Carolina woman, claimed that a black man had hijacked her car and kidnapped her two young sons. For days, the news media gave around-the-clock coverage to a nationwide search for the black carjacker. But no such man exist. Smith had drowned her two sons by pushing her car into a lake with the boys inside. She had a wealthy boyfriend who allegedly was not interested in having a “ready-made” family.

It’s no wonder whites so easily accept the image of the evil black male. But this was not always so.

Early in the history of slavery in the Western Hemisphere, notes Audrey Smedley, now professor emeritus of anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University, blacks were not set apart from other laborers. The first slaves the English used in the Caribbean were Irish. And there were more Irish slaves in the middle of the 17th century than any others.

At that time, Smedley writes, African slaves and European slaves “worked together, they played together … they lived together” and color didn’t “make much difference … because they were all in the same boat.”

One 17th century planter who wrote to the trustees of his company said, “Please don’t send us any more Irishmen. Send us some Africans, because the Africans are civilized and the Irish are not.”

But plantations grew ever larger and the African slave trade exploded. To justify the cruelty of lifetime slavery, the myth had to be manufactured that blacks — especially men — were subhuman and violent. That image stuck.

In the years since, those ideas too often have intensified. As Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson points out, “More than 45 years ago, the Kerner Commission concluded that we lived in two societies, one white, one black, separate and still unequal.” And we still do. If we don’t resolve this gap, Dyson writes, “We are doomed to watch the same sparks reignite, whenever and wherever injustice meets desperation.”

Only when we realize the power of confirmation bias, and start looking at reality instead of stereotypes and misinformation, will things change.

 

By: Caryl Rivers, Journalism Professor at Boston University; Op-Ed Opinion, The Los Angeles Times, December 11, 2014

December 24, 2014 Posted by | Black Men, Confirmation Bias, Racism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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