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In a historic day of action, more than 800 protests on Saturday urged lawmakers to pass gun control. In Washington, D.C., alone, organizers say up to 800,000 people took part in the March for Our Lives, which was organized by students who survived the Feb. 14 shooting massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In New York, another 150,000 people took to the streets; 85,000 rallied in Chicago; 55,000 marched in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands also rallied in Atlanta and Pittsburgh. And 20,000 people gathered in Parkland, Florida.
In light of what occurred in Orlando, Florida, and other mass shootings, it comes as no surprise to any of us that the political establishment wants and encourages us to think of madness like this within the narrow context of gun control – taking guns out of the hands of criminals. But, the question must now be asked of the larger community: Why are we so unwilling to view and struggle around what these acts really are – hate!
A United Nations panel of human rights activists has urged the United States’ government to pay reparations to the descendants of Africans who were brought to the U.S. as slaves. The committee blamed slavery for the plight of African-Americans today. The U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent’s preliminary report follows a year of aggravated racial tensions in the United States that saw the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
It is of necessity and of urgency that we recognize that in order to understand our present situation and strive for change, we must come to terms with our past. We must tie America’s history of genocide and racism to our current history, to our so-called system of democracy, which is fundamentally hypocrisy, and to the lives of our lost youths of color at the hands of this system.
The U.S. State Department recently released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, posing as the world judge of human rights again. As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it.
Oakland may seem like a local anomaly with its big increase in homicides in 2011-12 and the anti-crime hysteria which now engulfs it. But Oakland is just a prime example of the intertwining of crime and criminalization under capitalism, in which the ruling class divides working people one from another and targets particular groups for victimization.
In our current climate, it is increasingly hard to see how some of the alternating proposals flowing from these debates, namely, a “good guy with a gun” in every school or a generic “gun control” that bans all bad guns and gun accessories will be anything but a distraction from truly understanding and addressing the root of what is causing people to die.
General measures could move the cultural discussion and peoples’ behaviors in the right direction, whereas a focus on restricting gun ownership – except for people who fit appropriate medico-legal exclusion criteria – will probably worsen our cultural crisis, increase discrimination and police attacks, and increase the danger of greater social violence and chaos.