Wednesday, January 16, 2013

According to Ann Coulter People of Color Are Responsible for Gun Violence

'Ann Coulter' photo (c) 2011, Gage Skidmore - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

More than any other conservative commentator, Ann Coulter is the one that drives me to see red the most often.  She is absolutely shameless in her rhetoric and continually engages in what can only be deemed as hate speech.  This woman will justify the unjustifiable and engage in the most blatant racism - particularly if she currently has a book for sale. And no, her Black boyfriend does not automatically mean that she is not engaging in racism.

In the wake of the shootings in Connecticut, the U.S. has finally started talking seriously about gun control.  This is a conversation which I believe is long over due.  As a Canadian, I am all too aware that America's gun problem has begun to effect us, with their illegal weapons making their way across the border, despite our much tougher gun legislation laws. If America's gun culture were solely America's problem, perhaps it wouldn't concern me to the degree that it does.

Since the White House has begun to actively talk about new gun legislation, some Americans have lost their ever loving minds. We've heard everything from how guns keep people to safe, to the suggestion that guns are the only defense against an oppressive federal government.  None of these suggestions are even remotely logical, especially when we look at the rate of gun death in countries like Australia, Great Briton and Canada.  Clearly, more guns don't equal less violence.

Into a debate that is already inflamed with people being purposefully obtuse, Ann Coulter has decided to infuse racism.

 "If you compare white populations, we have the same murder rate as Belgium," she said. "So perhaps it's not a gun problem, it is a demographic problem, which liberals are the ones who are pushing, pushing, pushing."

"Let's get more Colin Fergusons...Why are they coming in to begin with?" she said. (source)
Of course she would jump on Colin Ferguson, who killed six people and injured nineteen others on the Long Island Rail Road in Garden City, New York, on December 7, 1993. Ferguson is an easy target because he is a Black man and was born in Jamaica. It allows Coulter to suggest that gun violence is the fault of criminal people of colour and is of course, inspired by forces outside of the U.S.  Gun violence Coulter posits is not a problem of peaceful, God fearing White folk, nope, it's the savage people of colour.

The problem with Coulter's thesis is that the recent mass shootings have all been committed by White men.  In fact, the Connecticut shooting was the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.  Even when clear evidence makes her faulty logic readily apparent, the ability and desire to engage in race baiting, was simply too rich for Coulter to ignore.   There is a legitmate point to be made about gun violence in the inner cities and in fact, if White children in the suburbs were dying at the rate of people of colour, there would long ago have been a commission to investigate the problem and to work on a solution.  Coulter does not have a problem with people of colour killing each other, she only has a problem with the idea that White people might lose access to their guns.  

By talking about Colin Ferguson, Couler is reminding White gun activists that what they need to fear is violent people of colour. It is an attempt to shift the blame from violent, entitled White masculinity to people of colour. The fear of Black violence has long permeated American racial relations though clearly, Whiteness is the party which is the most guilty of violence.  The Stand Your Ground laws have sought to institutionalize and legalize these acts of violence against people of colour.  Even as mothers cry over coffins, it is the death of a class full of largely White school children which finally spurred some sort of federal action.  None of this is to suggest that what happened in Sandy Hook was not absolutely horrific but to state unequivocally that some children are clearly worth more than others. 

Like many, Coulter is unprepared to acknowledge the horror of White supremacy, or examine the violent, aggressive hyper White masculinity that it has fostered. Even as White males are committing violent crimes -- or threatening to commit violent crimes -- a bait and switch tactic is employed, simply because it can be relied upon to stir feelings of racial animosity and superiority, even as it serves to shift the conversation away from Whiteness.

Obviously, Coulter is speaking to a very specific demographic but even the most liberal anti-racist will not fail to hear her message.  Much of racism today is coded and covert and even those who claim to be colour blind, or see themselves as anti-racist, have internalized negative messages about people of colour.  It is much easier to continue to listen to these messages, than to pause and consider what they really mean, or who they really hurt.  That is the scurrilous nature of this new form of coded racism. The very same people who may react in a negative matter to the N-word, will quite easily miss these coded messages for what they are.  That is why in this day and age, it is even more important to think critically about the messages the media chooses to send.