n looking at these two images from the August 2015 protests in Ferguson, Missouri I am reminded that I need to be in the middle of a fracas to fully understand it. However, I am also reminded that much of the most egregious hypocrisy around me exists right under my nose such that I don’t fully see it. My guess is that this is what is going on with these (white) Oath Keepers who showed up to Ferguson to “protect” the rights of (mostly white) journalists and not the rights of the (mostly black) citizens.
As I read through this article I imagine Americans all across “middle America” not taking note of the irony of the white Oath Keepers walking through the streets with their vast arsenal of weaponry while unarmed citizens who are not disturbing the peace (read: rioting in any way) get pepper sprayed and tear gassed and, in some cases, get the shit kicked out of them by the police. Business as usual in America.
The focus from the outside will be on the small number of rioters but not on the vast numbers of peaceful protestors. This makes everything related to race relations in America easy to box up and tuck away. We definitely don’t want to have to challenge ourselves too much.
This takes me to the argument that so many gun owners use to justify their right to own their weapons — that they are PROTECTING themselves, their freedoms, and their liberties from a government that will inevitably turn against the citizens. My problem with this argument is that from what I’ve been able to see, most of the more vocal and hard core gun owners seem to be the very people who will take great satisfaction in being deputized by those dark dictatorial forces of imperialism (read: the U.S. government) when the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan. In other words, the most radicalized NRA supporters love guns and they seem to love to play pretend soldier and pretend police games. And so when the government puts out the call to arms to protect us from some great threat, regardless of what that threat might be, the line of recruits and volunteers will be mostly populated by people like the members of the Oath Keepers.
I am reminded of how poor and working class people are constantly manipulated into voting against their own interests and doing things like going to war (read: dying) to fight battles that keep a ruling class in power. There is no reason to think that such manipulation will not continue when that shit starts pouring through the fan as systems fall apart. And there is no reason to imagine that any of us will take the time to re-examine the racism that shapes our lives — and that is clearly evident by the way two different groups of people are being treated in Ferguson, Missouri.