Rick Ayers’ Modest Proposal

The murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, are too hideous to fully grasp. The kids and staff members who were slaughtered, the families whose futures are strewn into a cloud of despair. Too much.

Of course our insane gun laws have to be blamed.

But what else? I have read here many thoughtful and heartfelt discussions on the issues.

Here is my two cents worth:

Yes, it would be good to keep guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people. But that is an impossible distinction. How disturbed? How insane? Every society has someone who suddenly jumps up and runs around raving and hitting. Without guns lying around everywhere, such melt-downs do not result in mass murder.

I happen to think anyone who commits murder is insane, by definition. So how to find that person ahead of time? Not likely.

More importantly, maybe there is a distinction that must be made. When a young kid, often a Black or Brown kid, shoots someone on a city street corner, that young person is insane, or at least “mentally disturbed.” Yes, that person is driven by fear, trauma, anger – and living in a world of deadly economic competition brought on by colonial constriction. We never hear comments after these shootings that the shooter must be mentally disturbed.

But when white, privileged males – at Las Vegas concerts, Sandy Hook elementary, or a Florida high school – let loose with a barrage of AR-15 bullets, it is also insane but framed by an entirely different context. The politicians mark them as pitifully insane. But in my view, such violence is white rage, nurtured by the larger fascist culture, which is daily stoked by Trump and his allies.

It seems ironic, I know. Here are the most privileged people on the planet, 6% of the world’s population consuming 60% of the world’s resources. Yet they manage to nurture a sense of grievance, they paint themselves as victims. It would be pathetic if it weren’t so lethal.

So it is guns, yes, but also white supremacy.

Gun culture has always been tied to slavery and racism. Read Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’ book Loaded. She points out that the NRA only launched a mad campaign for access to all guns as a result of, and in response to, the powerful Civil Rights and Black Liberation movements of the 60’s and 70’s. Militia culture, paranoid white culture, are all part of white nationalism mixed with toxic masculinity.

We need a counterculture – I don’t mean that in a 60’s sense of the hippie movement (though that might be part of it). We need a counter culture, a culture that is counter to the ridiculous self-pity that white people indulge in and violently lash out through. We need to develop a culture that seeks to give up privilege, that demands that the US not be boss of the world but that is a nation among nations, that places us in harmony with nature and not pillaging her every day for more useless crap to sell and buy, that lives more simply and celebrates when the GDP trends downward, that honors those who were harmed by imperialist violence and pays reparations happily, that defies racist demagogues and seeks to stand in solidarity with the peoples of the world.

Then we can melt down the guns, not only those on the street but those that are bristling in the hands of cops and military, and get on with what people would really like to do in their lives: love each other, grow a little garden, raise our children, repair the roof when it leaks, and sing a song. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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