Saturday, July 16, 2016

Just What We Need! [Sarcasm]

Great!  Just what we need!  As if it wasn't enough to have white, right-wing paramilitaries and open carry advocates, now we have black, left-wing paramilitaries and open carry advocates.  It appears that the New Black Panther Party will be showing up openly armed at Trump protests.  This after black open carry advocates showed up at the Dallas Black Lives Matter rally and added to the confusion as a sniper fired on the crowd and the police (understandably) got confused and assumed the armed men present were in league with the sniper.  (And, it should be added, these good guys with guns were completely useless against the bad guy with the gun).

I suppose at least this will be a good test of my earlier question: Is the Second Amendment content neutral?  Do people who believe that the Second Amendment authorizes all law-abiding citizens to for private paramilitaries for the possible violent overthrow of government extend this right to everyone, regardless of religion or ideology, so long as they promise not to start shooting until their apocalypse-of-choice actually comes about?  It is true that a few Oath Keepers offered assistance to Black Lives Matter, but BLM turned them down, so the question remained moot.  With the New Black Panther Party, it is fast becoming relevant.

A quick glance at the right-wing press for their reactions showed them to be mostly neutral; they generally stuck to reporting the item without comment.  One did complain:
The news media has wall-to-wall coverage when conservatives carry firearms at protests, yet there has been no media coverage of this armed anti-Trump protest even with the Chicago riot Friday night over Trump and the arrest of a leftist agitator who stormed the stage during Trump’s Dayton rally.
So, mostly complaints about being unfairly singled out, but no opinions expressed on whether open carry by Trump protesters is appropriate.  Well, I trust they will grant the ideological consistency of the New York Times, which has condemned such displays.

I suppose general gun advocates have two possible responses here.  One is to say that when protesters and counter-protesters show up, the more heavily armed they are the better because it assures no violence because of the danger of retaliation.  To this I can only answer that anyone saying such a thing is living in a fantasy world.  Showing up armed at demonstrations is a form of escalation.  For both sides to show up armed is further escalation positively asking for trouble.  So radical an anti-government commentator as Justin Raimondo explained:
The whole point of even attending such a gathering, or, indeed, any sort of rational discussion about anything, is that we leave our guns—embodying the possibility of coercion—outside the door. We forsake force, and rely solely on our persuasive powers to get our point across.*
Two sides gearing up for possible armed showdown makes an actual showdown more likely, not less.

The other is to say that the New Black Panther Party are obvious bad guys (witness the Dallas shooting), and thus the very sort of people good guys have to arm themselves against.  Now while I fully agree that the New Black Panthers are bad guys, it also remains true that Micah Johnson (the Dallas shooter) was not a member of any of their organizations, just as Timothy McVeigh, though he regularly swam in the same ideological waters as the militia movement, did not belong to any of their organizations either.  I still regard both groups as bad guys for promoting paranoia and militarism, but YMMV, I guess.  But is it too much to hope that the New Black Panthers might bring at least an acknowledgement in some circles that the mere act of openly carrying guns and forming a private paramilitary does not automatically qualify you as a good guy?

I was fascinated by David Frum's column saying that the whole idea of  a law-abiding private paramilitary originated in the 1960's with the Black Panthers.  The Black Panthers scared the hell out of white people, led to tougher gun control laws, and eventually degenerated into criminality and were forcibly suppressed, but their ideas of the law-abiding paramilitary formed to resist state tyranny migrated over onto the right and gave rise to the anti-government militia movement.  Thus far, the paramilitary movement has been a white, rural, right-wing phenomenon, made up of general allies, though with the potential for hostile factions never far below the surface.  Well now, it appears, we have come full circle and black, urban, left-wing paramilitaries, calling themselves Black Panthers, no less, are with us again.

God help us all!

*Admittedly, it is less clear whether he still believes that. 

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