Flags and Guns

I haven’t been to many of the Southern states of the USA. I’ve met a number of people from the Carolinas, well-mannered, fiscally conservative folk who don’t exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms. It was the English who enshrined the right to carry firearms for self-defence and legally defensible right to life in a turbulent and unstable period of English history; the American fledgling state simply copied the idea.
Even the most trigger-happy Americans are getting tired of having to defend the indefensible statistic that far too many people suffer mortal injury because of gun crime.

The image shows twenty-one year old Dylann Roof. He is holding two objects, both of which are venerated and highly dangerous. One is a Confederate flag, the other is a semiautomatic .45 calibre Glock 41 pistol, obtainable to almost anyone without a violent history at a cost of just over six hundred dollars. Designed for the Austrian military, it is used by police forces all over the world. This particular one took the lives of nine black churchgoers in Charleston a few days ago. Over sixty thousand died under the Confederate flag in Virginia and North Carolina alone during a war motivated primarily by a desire to end slavery. For the moment, it still flies in the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse, a grim reminder to the black population that the white man’s wishful thinking is alive and well.

It is not enough for the State of Mississippi to remove the Confederate flag from its license plates, nor is it enough that the President makes yet more sympathetic noises. White supremacist websites radicalise those of fragile mind and limited intellect, deluding people into thinking that a race war is just around the corner and it is their duty to prevent it by violent means. If firearms are so easily obtained, it is hardly surprising if such people use them. Labelling this boy as a white supremacist terrorist, therefore not ‘one of us’ won’t do since it distances his actions from a wellspring of US opinion that justifies the use of lethal force by private citizens by allowing them, any of them, to carry a weapon of mass destruction. It’s time, just time, to reconfigure the software, update it for a new time and a different morality where we come to the realisation that private citizens do not need handguns. Only then will the Dylann Roofs of this world no longer be provided with the means to enact their warped, twisted fantasies.

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2 thoughts on “Flags and Guns

  1. A quick reading of “A People's History of the United States,” by Howard Zinn places the best context for this issue. It is but a symptom of the system put in place by a group of wanna-be aristocrats, both landed estates (in the South) and capitalist industrialist in the north. Exploitation of “the other” and racial tensions and identity issues has always been a part of this country. Exacerbated by the economic realities of the “New America” where workers are losing ground in job security, wages, and benefits since the “Reagan revolution,” racism and xenophobia have made a resurgence. The first black American President has also been a convenient lightning rod for latent racist attitudes to be exploited for the benefit of mostly GOP politicians and oligarchs. I would also add that the wars being fought in the middle east and Africa (primarily) against a permanent “shadowy” enemy give safe harbor to those who seek clarity by responding to deep rooted fears of the “other” in the collective subconscious. That and the attractiveness of being an instant “star” in the twitterverse is enough to push some over the edge. The question for me is “how do we get out of this?” Do we follow the trail of breadcrumbs back to a period in this country where life was more like “Mayberry, North Carolina” as depicted in the Andy Griffith show? Some advocate a return to traditional values etc. I would suggest the tail wags the dog a bit here and that the only way to return to “Mayberry” is to return to a period when jobs and wages were adequate to support families. Today's “flat-world” and “globalism” suggest this is not likely. Therefore, extremism here and elsewhere in the world where “globalism” is destroying traditional social and economic sytems is likely to increase. Job security for those in the military-industrial-intelligence complex I suppose.

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  2. The trail of breadcrumbs has, I think, petered out, since people seem to have forgotten why they started dropping them in the first place. America's self-actualised worldview has changed since Ronnie's 'trust but verify', along with much Western democratic certainties. If you'll pardon the pun, we all seem to be more rootless than we once were.

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