Saturday, October 08, 2005

Saturday Morning With Uncle Ben: Looting Preacautions or Lyncing Mobs?

I didn't get a chance to see Ben this week. We are both too busy and hence I have missed opportunities to see him at length. However, his emails are still a rich source for conversations. Earlier this week, Ben sent me the following picture:

From Ben's standpoint, this is effective policing and protecting of one's property. Sure, there is a bit of playfulness in Ben's tone. Yet, I find him more sympathetic to this group of men in Texas than he is critical.

I, on the other hand, see this picture as horrific. I am already terrified by this group of men and I cannot help but be reminded of groups of men like this who organized themselves for lynchings.

I know, I know, critics out there might say I am "reading too much" into the "drunks with guns" poster. These guys are just being silly. But the fact is that when you disseminate such a picture, you cannot control how the viewer will receive the message. To those sympathetic to the NRA and the right to bear arms, these guys appear as heroes.

I look at this picture and worry deeply that these men have entrusted to themselves the maintenance of peace. I am disturbed that they are all white and leaving this message for a largely black evacuee population.

While looting is a problem and I would be concerned about it too, I would not be comforted by these men as the peacekeepers. In fact, I would fear even greater violence.

These drunks with guns are imitating a practice of intimidation--lynching--that is precisely the kind of image that many African Americans are now rebelling against. The gang banger, tough guy image is a direct response to the hundreds of years of extra-legal violence and emasculation they were subjected to in the United States. For more education on this point, I encourage you to see Marlon Rigg's film Black Is, Black Ain't.

I guarantee that these drunks with guns are not helping to overcome the serious race issues we have in this country.

To learn more about lynching in this country, and, in particular the postcards of lynchings that were made and sent out (celebrating this form of intimidation) please go visit Without Sanctuary.