(NNPA)—When the so-called pro-gun demonstrators decided that April 19th would be their day to “march while packing” (weapons), the first thing that I said to my wife was this: “So, what would happen if hundreds of Black folks were to go to a national park fully armed and march?”
I think that there is little doubt but that the subsequent scene would make Custer’s Last Stand look like a squabble. The forces of the police; more than likely the National Guard; and some right wing extremists would all have shown up to prepare for armageddon.
Yet, in the face of the April 19th mobilization, the mainstream media, and many of us, simply shook our heads at the insanity in our midst.
It was not just that these right wing idiots were marching with guns. It is that there is a section of the political right that is so out of touch with reality that even when President Obama advances their right to bear arms that they are suspicious and believe that he has a secret motive. In reading comments offered by these play warriors what was equally striking was their fixation on how they believe that the government is moving towards totalitarianism; taxes are going up; and their right to possess weapons is under threat. In reality, one can disagree with national health care reform but it is anything but totalitarian, particularly since President Obama made concessions to the insurance companies on it; taxes have decreased for most people; and the right to possess weapons, including in public locations, has increased!
Forgive me for letting the facts get in the way of the perceptions by the right.
The numbers of these extremists are turning out to be far lower than presented in the media. It is also becoming clear that those who marched on April 19th, along with the Tea Party crowd, are far wealthier than had been presented and assumed even a few weeks ago. They are not exactly working America, to say the least.
Yet this does not make them any less dangerous. They have created a mythological world in their heads that has no resemblance to our actual reality. They are so unsettled by a Black president of the USA, not to mention the changes that are under way in the USA—demographically speaking—that they are searching for answers wherever they may be found.
The fact that none of us could contemplate a similar, armed mobilization by Blacks shows that while there have been important changes in the manner in which race plays out in the USA, the April 19th crowd still holds a very privileged position.
More than likely they were able to show up at the rallies without their cars or buses having been stopped for inspections. I am sure few, if any, were taken in for questioning on the grounds of potential terrorist activity, despite both their words and their armament. Yet had an African-American, Latino, Arab, South Asian or Native American shown up fully armed, with a bandoleer across their chest, there would have been a different response.
April 19 spoke to the continuing racial differential in treatment; to the fact that a segment of White America simply cannot accept the racial changes under way in the USA; and that myths can be stronger than the truth for some people, potentially leading to all sorts of unfortunate consequences.
Speaking of unfortunate consequences, think about April 19th for a minute…the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing by a home-grown White American terrorist who was angry and wanted to send a message. I wish that he could have been limited to harsh language.
(Bill Fletcher Jr. is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the co-author of “Solidarity Divided.” He can be reached at email@example.com.)