Birth Defects of a Nation

Great piece by Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian on the terrible Charleston massacre.

Race and guns are the birth defects of the American republic, their distorting presence visible in the US constitution itself. The very first article of that founding document spelled out its view that those “bound to service for a term of years” – slaves – would count as “three fifths of all other Persons”. Meanwhile, the second amendment enshrines “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”.

It’s a sad fact that any attempt to tighten laws on guns is a lost cause in America, such is the cultural and political power of the gun lobby. Not even the terrible massacre of children at Sandy Hook could shift the Overton Window. The gun lobby considers that dead children are an acceptable price to pay for the right to bear arms in the same way that road accidents are an acceptable price for personal mobility.

The differemce is that it’s impossible to imagine any motor industry successfully lobbying against every single proposal to improve road safety in quite the same way as the NRA opposes every measure to make it marginally more difficult for would-be killers to get hold of guns.

And when it comes to race, it’s notable that Republican politicians refuse to name what happened at Charleston as a race-hate crime. It’s as if they think racists are an important voting bloc…

Addendum: Some background on the “3/5ths of a person” in the quoted part of the linked piece. I know Wikipedia isn’t a completely unbiased source, especially for controversial subjects, but it’s a starting point. Not that anything invalidates Freedland’s central point about the structural racism that goes back to America’s early history.

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One Response to Birth Defects of a Nation

  1. ColumPaget says:

    # And when it comes to race, it’s notable that Republican politicians refuse to
    # name what happened at Charleston as a race-hate crime.

    The question to ask people like this is always “Okay, what *would* you class as a race-hate crime?” But expect some pretty alarming answers.

    # It’s as if they think
    # racists are an important voting bloc…

    Well, likely they are, on both the left and the right. That’s the situation we’re moving to, where politics becomes simply a question of which type of bigot you are. This is why I no longer vote, who would I vote for? Who could I trust?