Author, journalist, and university professor Charles E. Cobb, Jr., a long time civil rights activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, has written a new book certain to upset those heavily invested in the notion that gun rights advocacy is somehow "racist," and that "gun control" advocates labor in defense of racial minorities. And there is no shortage of such people--here are just a few examples:
- John Rosenthal claims right to keep and bear arms is 'racist'
- NAACP wants to shoot the messenger at NRA convention
- Writer sees nothing but race in post-election gun buying spree
- Whitlock turns up personal attack on gun owners, calls NRA ‘new KKK’
- Whitlock's 'NRA is the new KKK' exhibits historical ignorance on epic scale
- Anti-gun Missouri legislator plays 'race card'--badly
So when a prominent and respected black civil rights activist, and indeed a passionate advocate of non-violent protest against racial discrimination, writes a book called "This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible," there will inevitably be some indignant howling from the same sort who bleated so angrily when Professor Adam Winkler wrote that the "KKK began as a gun control organization" (yeah--I'm talking to you, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, with your penchant for criticizing gun rights advocates for being white).
In a National Public Radio interview, Professor Cobb explained some of the intent behind his new book:
I'm very much concerned with how the history of the southern freedom movement or civil rights movement is portrayed. And, I'm very conscious of the gaps in the history, and one important gap in the history, in the portrayal of the movement, is the role of guns in the movement. I worked in the South, I lived with families in the South. There was never a family I stayed with that didn't have a gun. I know from personal experience and the experiences of others, that guns kept people alive, kept communities safe and all you have to do to understand this is simply think of black people as human beings and they're gonna respond to terrorism the way anybody else would.
Non-violence was of course a vital force in the civil rights movement in the '60s, but what kind of twisted degenerate would argue that one cannot claim adherence to the precepts of non-violence if he prevents the rape and/or murder of his family by whatever degree of force is necessary? Even as revered a voice for non-violence as the Dalai Lama has stated that one can reasonably defend one's life with a gun, and Gandhi described the forcible disarmament of the Indian people as "the blackest" of misdeeds during British rule of India.
It could be argued that non-violent activism was only possible because it was backed up by the threat of force represented by the resolute, courageous, armed black men like those who formed the Deacons for Defense and Justice.
Non-violent activism can succeed when one's oppressors are not entirely without conscience, and do not see those whom they oppress as being less than human. Unfortunately, that does not accurately describe all who attempt to oppress others. As Mike Vanderboegh has observed:
Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass.
Oppressors don't change their evil, tyrannical ways because they are persuaded by the eloquence and righteousness of the oppressed. They change because they harbor a very personal fear of the consequences of continuing their old course.