Now that Colion Noir, or whatever his name is has spiked my Huffington column views by denouncing me as a not-so-closet racist and as someone who knows nothing about guns, I think it’s time to finally set the record straight as to why I find his video arcade to be so appallingly amateurish, silly and without serious content of any kind. Because behind his verbal pitter-patter and the prancing around in his endless collection of baseball caps, what we have is an effort to promote the ‘gun culture’ as some kind of uniquely American lifestyle that deserves our interest, attention and support.
But what Colion is really supporting is nothing more than the continued marketing campaign of the gun industry to convince us that the real enemy is the ‘mainstream,’ liberal media who wants nothing other than to take away all the guns. And this is particularly serious for our man Colion, who sees himself as the last line of defense against people like me and my “pathetic attempt to manipulate Black people away from the gun rights issue.”
But what exactly does Colion mean when he talks about ‘gun rights?’ What he and the NRA want you to think is that gun-grabbing liberals (like me) are really devils in disguise, because we pretend to be in favor of equal rights when, in fact, we are endlessly trying to strip Black folks of their most precious and hard-won right, namely, the right to defend themselves with a gun.
This nonsense about how the so-called ‘tradition’ of African-Americans arming themselves for self-defense is part of the bigger pile of historical untruthfulness that the NRA endlessly promotes every time it proclaims itself to be ‘America’s oldest civil rights organization.’ The NRA was founded in 1871, and had it actually been concerned with civil rights, perhaps the African-American community wouldn’t have had to wait until a century following the end of the Civil War to gain the same legal and social equality that the White citizens of this country enjoyed once the Constitution was ratified in 1788.
In fact there was a tradition of Black armed, self-defense which grew up in the decades following the Civil War. And when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began preaching the strategy of non-violence, he found himself in disagreement with other Black leaders, like Robert Williams, who publicly made no bones about the fact that they wanted and needed access to guns. But let’s make one thing very clear: civil rights activists like Williams didn’t want guns to protect themselves against crime. They needed guns to protect themselves against organized, state violence in the form of racist sheriffs and the KKK. To Southern civil rights activists, Black and White, terrorism wasn’t something which existed in the Middle East. It was home-grown, violently racist and bent on keeping Blacks ‘in their place.’
There is simply no relationship, historical or otherwise, between the century-long struggle for civil rights in this country and the cynical attempt by the gun industry to pretend that their promotion of the 2nd Amendment is an equivalent effort to strengthen Constitutional rights. I happened to be living in Chicago in 1969 and working on the city’s West Side when a unit of the Chicago Police Department mounted a machine gun on the roof of a backyard garage, opened fire, and assassinated the local leader of the Black Panthers – Fred Hampton – as he lay sleeping in his bed. I was at the scene shortly after the murder took place, the bedroom wall sustained more than 200 rounds of high-power ammunition from which Freddie had absolutely no chance to escape.
The Panthers got their start in California and it was their public display of guns which resulted in a gun-control law signed by a Governor named Ron. But the Panthers didn’t arm themselves for protection against ‘thugs.’ And if Colion wants to pretend that he’s fighting for the ‘rights’ of minorities by prancing around for the NRA, what you’re seeing is a modern version of the minstrel show.