Monday, April 02, 2018

Truest statement of the week II

Given all the issues that are off the table, Democratic strategists probably view the public uproar over the Las Vegas massacre and the continued persistence of school shootings as a gift from heaven or hell. They offer a small area where there are discernible differences between the two capitalist parties. But Democrats and their media mouthpieces have to be careful. They have to contain and limit the discussion to legal remedies, banning bump stocks and assault weapons, taking more guns from domestic abusers (except cops and the military of course) and the kind of no-fly-no-buy crap for which several members of the Congressional Black Caucus staged a brief demonstration on the House floor staged a sit-in last year. That kind of thing just might sustain a high enough level of outrage against Republicans to flip a few seats in Congress or a handful of state legislatures this fall.
The trick for Democrats will be to keep the public anger high, but the discussion shallow, limited, and ahistorical. You won’t hear Rachel Maddow or anybody on CNN or TedTalks explain what Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz and Gerald Horne will tell you, that the “well regulated militia” the Second Amendment referred to was the universally armed white male population, deployed to murder and steal land from Native Americans and police the enslaved Africans. Democrats have to prevent anyone from asking, let alone answering why 70% of the guns are in the hands of white men, many of whom imagine themselves arming for a race war. Democrats can’t talk about how the Texas Rangers massacred Mexicans and Indians, when they bothered to tell the difference at all, or how the nation’s first gun control laws were prohibitions against black people and natives possessing firearms. The gun control debate will have to avoid examining how the carceral state enforces existing gun laws with the same thick layer of racist bias used for ostensibly race-blind drug laws. Democrats will have to avoid talking up the link between mass incarceration and ubiquitous stop and frisk policies, universally justified with the excuse that they’re about taking guns away from black and brown men. Democrats will have to blame mental illness or some other made-up cause for mass shooters. Their media and academics will have to keep discussion away from what the steps might look like to disarming the police, away from reducing the level of violence in society as a whole, and shutting down the nation’s world-leading arms industry.

The left’s job is precisely the opposite. We have to raise all the other issues Democrats won't, the issues that discredit both parties from gentrificatin and housing to health care, We have to open the books and popularize the history neither Democrats nor Republicans and the bipartisan capitalist media want to bury. We have to ask and begin to answer what it would take to make the US like many other countries where most of the cops are unarmed, and how to disarm the US military as well. The current outrage over school shootings is an opportunity for us too, and it’s here, whether we’re ready or not.

-- Bruce A. Dixon, "Gun Debate A Narrow Opportunity For Democrats, A Wide One For the Left" (BLACK AGENDA REPORT).

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