Last week I mocked the white privilege protecting Mr.Tree of Liberty as he stood outside Obama’s town hall in New Hampshire with a loaded gun strapped to his thigh. I assumed that had he been any other color than a whiter shade of pale, our libertarian extremist dolt would have faced a beat down by the cops.
Well, today a black man carrying a semi-automatic outside Obama’s speech before the VFA in Arizona may have proven me wrong.
From the article:
A man, who decided not to give his name, was walking around the pro-health care reform rally at 3rd and Washington streets, with a pistol on his hip, and an AR-15 (a semi-automatic assault rifle) on a strap over his shoulder.
“Because I can do it,” he said when asked why he was armed. “In Arizona, I still have some freedoms.”
Two police officers were staying very close to the man.
“What he is doing is perfectly legal,” Det. J. Oliver, of the Phoenix Police Department said. “We are here to keep the peace. If we need to intervene, we will intervene at that time.”
So I was wrong. A black asshole gets the same legal protections as a white asshole, right? Er… we’ll see how Troy Anthony Davis’ retrial works out before we jump to that conclusion. (Not to imply that Mr. Davis is an asshole, btw. He could be, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.) Given that this takes place in Arizona, I am not too surprised: ten years ago, elsewhere in the American Southwest, the Black Panthers of Texas openly carried rifles and semi-automatics in a counter-demonstration against the Ku Klux Klan — a display of force as warranted as anything I can think of. The police seemed to think so, too, and did no more than keep the peace.
Nonetheless a few commenters over at the HuffPo post on this article automatically assume the nutjob with the Freedom Gun is white. IMMA WAKE observes: “Many of these angry folks are just plain mad because this country has elected a “Black” President.” Not AWAKE enough to click the link to the article itself. More ambiguously, CaptainVideo asks: “Imagine how the right would have reacted if a black man had brought a gun within vicinity of President Bush.” So either CaptainVideo assumes the gun carrier is white, or he thinks this black guy is getting away with something he wouldn’t under a white president — which sounds more paranoid than a real comment on racial injustice.
Surprise, people are sloppy on the InterWebz. But they also carry around assumptions about race that have arisen during this health care debate (sic), at least insofar as who the “townhellers” are. From all previously reported evidence, they are white, conservative, pretty libertarian, and in many cases whupped into a frenzy by professional conservative action groups. The appearance of a black conservative libertarian doesn’t undermine that general profile; rather it raises other questions about an individual’s racial identity and ideology that are best answered by, say, this particular gun nut in Arizona. Of course, conservatives will argue that the appearance of this man proves wrong the “liberal media” depictions that support the Angry Townheller profile. I think he is an exception that proves the rule: like Rachel Maddow, an intelligent cable news pundit, he is more curiosity than representative a genuine demographic.
UPDATE: Surprise. He was part of a conservative radio talk show stunt. Oh, those silly pranksters. What will they think of next? Strapping C4 to their chests and brandishing a detonator at the crowd? My freedoms tingle with pleasure.