Jan 16

john brown slave fighter

When CNN recently cornered Chairman of Gun Appreciation Day Larry Ward to ask him why his event conflicted with Martin Luther King Jr. Day he made the statement: “I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”

While I want to chalk this statement up to being careless trolling, the teacher in me wishes to correct him and any others who think like him on this sentiment.

First of all to say that arming the slaves would have prevented slavery is a careless fantasy at best and secondly I wish that people would treat the narrative of American black slavery with the same reverence they do with the cruel Holocaust of World War II.

Slavery was an evil institution that has wrought irrevocable damage on a race of people that is still being felt today (…yes race-deniers and white guilt trolls of the internet this is a fact). I really think that the usage of slavery in this instance to backup the NRA’s want for guns in every home shows ignorance and apathy to the subject at hand.

What I believe spawned the comment was this latest controversy with Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and it’s portrayal of a negro cowboy on a bloody revenge run. Mr. Ward thought it appropriate to draw a parallel between Django and the right to bear arms. It may have seemed cute to him at the time of saying it but the fact that it is massively inappropriate and unrealistic is the reason why it falls on deaf ears… except ears like mine who want to check him on the slight.

Django Unchained showed one particular type of slave – a rebellious, desperate, and liberated slave whose love for his wife was enough to break past all of the mental and physical barriers that prevented uprising amongst most slaves.

“Having guns had nothing to do with it”

Many slaves in the West Indies – particularly where the slavery was arguably harsher than in America (sugar cane vs cotton) rose up, killed their masters and fled into the mountains. Haiti for one won their own liberation through blood and fire without having the right to bear arms.

These slaves did not have gun rights okayed to them from their white masters and they did not hop off of the slave ships packing assault rifles. It was all situational and some men fought while some men chose to keepthe peace – having guns had nothing to do with it.

When it comes to guns, gun control and history I would ask that Larry Ward and those of his ilk keep the tragic history of slavery out of their mouths. Giving guns to tortured people who were born into a tortured situation will not change their reality outside of causing more death and punishment for those on the sidelines.

It was a careless statement by every means and only adds to the cynicism that accompanies race relations in this country and further divides us all in the long run.

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