Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It was a public place. Politicians came and went doing the business of government. Citizens milled about, waiting their turn to put questions to the powerful.

Then they showed up; men carrying guns. Such a thing had never before been seen here, even though it was THE WEST.

No, I'm not talking about President Obama's recent address in Arizona, attended by a dozen men displaying their high-powered weaponry. I'm recalling an incident four decades back, when the Black Panthers appeared carrying guns at the capital of California.

Robert Williams had already published his book, Negroes with Guns, making the fairly straightfoward argument for self defense, and now the Panthers had taken his call to heart, and had taken their guns to lobby their law makers.

You know what happened in the wake of that photo op. The legislature quick, fast and in a hurry changed California's laws to prohibit the Panthers from showing up in public with guns in hand. The FBI kicked into action, got Cointelpro on the case, and the death toll among the Panthers began to climb precipitously. When black Americans showed up to make the argument that "free men own guns; slaves don't," the political structure of America did everything in its power to put a stop to the spread of that thought, 2nd amendment be damned.

I think we all know what likely would have been the response had a dozen or so black men carrying semi-automatic weapons shown up at any of President Bush's town hall meetings. For that matter, I think we know what the reaction would be if MOVEON.ORG started using its web site to encourage people to show up at Republican congressmen's town halls packing heat.

IN CONTRAST what was the response of Republican senators and congressmen when asked about these events on last Sunday's talk shows? Mostly along the lines of, "well, we have to respect their second amendment rights."

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