The Associated Press article that appeared in some papers today, describing the presence of gun carrying critics of President Obama outside an event in Arizona where the President spoke should alarm those of us who have been concerned about his safety since the presidential campaign. We cannot imagine the Secret Service and the F.B.I. allowing the presence of weapons, no matter the state law allowing the carrying of firearms, at an event featuring the President’s predecessors. The simple fact that President Obama’s race has provoked an angry reaction from white extremists, as a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center details, should cause the President’s security detail to be hypersensitive to the possibility that someone will make an attempt on his life.
Hiding behind the Second Amendment does not cut it anymore. How can the bearing of arms have anything remotely to do with the debate on universal health care that was the focus of the event featuring President Obama? The rationale that was used by one man interviewed by the AP for the story is flimsy to say the least, suggesting that somehow his freedoms were under attack by this President and the right to bear arms in Arizona was one of the few remaining. This paranoia is a perfect example why some researchers are correct in diagnosing racism as a disease. People who espouse such warped views are not simply misinformed or ignorant; they are delusional and diseased by an irrational hatred of Black people. It is why some whites, when asked by pollsters continue to overstate the number of Black Americans living in the United States. It is as if their fears lead them to see double. Their perspective is no different from the point of view of southern racists under Jim Crow. The fear that Blacks are somehow usurping a privileged way of life is rampant among these people and Barack Obama is seen as evil incarnate.
We think it is irresponsible for law enforcement to allow the brandishing of weapons at an event where the President is present. Have we not learned anything from the tragic events of November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas when an American President was murdered in cold blood, or the ambush on President Reagan’s life that severely injured his press secretary Jim Brady? Based on national security, police should have confiscated those weapons and, if need be, have the matter settled in court. One man was carrying an AR-15 military grade semi-automatic weapon. Could you imagine what would have happened if a Black male, carrying the same weapon in Arizona, had appeared outside an event where George W. Bush was speaking when he was the President? When Black males carry guns they are deemed dangerous, just recall the government’s assault on the Black Panther Party during COINTELPRO. When white males carry weapons to patrol the borders or protest against the President, they wrap their anger in the American flag and declare themselves patriots. We should not be so tolerant.
There is one thing that has become clear during this first year of the Obama administration. Contrary to the celebration of racial harmony that was abound during his Inauguration; Mr. Obama’s presence in the White House is bringing race based hate to the surface, as we have not seen for some time. It is coming from all facets of society, from the average citizen who cannot fathom a Black being capable of leading the country, bigoted television talking heads who fan the flames of hate on a daily basis, bloggers who invest in every crackpot conspiracy theory that hits cyberspace, and politicians who sit in silence when their constituents question the citizenship of our President and religious fanatics who spew their hatred of Islam as venom toward the President by treating Muslim as a four-letter word.
This one example of why the Black community must play a larger role in the gun control debate. We should use an incident such as the presidential event in Arizona as motivation, seeing that on a daily basis our community is being devastated by the flow of firearms in our streets. Our own self-interest in protecting the life of this President should be motivation for Black Americans to take a very strong and visible stand on government regulation on the sale and distribution of firearms. It is time to take the fight to the N.R.A. and all of its supporters who use the Constitution to shield their hatred of Blacks.