Sunday, January 09, 2011


When JFK was shot on 22 November 1963, CBS reporter Ray Moore interviewed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., about what it means to face assassination, something that had been attempted on King and that had been threatened many times. King was sincere and measured, saying that he and Coretta had thought about it a lot and that "you become immune to the fear" after a period, just knowing that you've made a choice to take the risk because you are working for the greater good.

Malcolm X famously said that it was an example of the "chickens coming home to roost," that is, that America's violence to the world and to entire peoples would invariably manifest itself in such ways. He discusses this as a 'climate of hate,' and, ironically, that precipitated a chain of events inside and outside of the Nation of Islam that led to his own assassination.

Both men were profound, both were taking similar risks, both knew it, and, indeed, both paid the very same price. Malcolm X was murdered by gunfire 21 February 1965, and King by more bullets 4 April 1968. Both felt the heightening threats against them and a normal human forboding and both kept working for freedom up until their assassinations.

And now comes the 8 January 2011 terrible shooting of more public figures and others, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old girl, Christina Taylor Greene, born on 11 September 2001. Six dead, more wounded, and at this point Giffords is in critical condition. She was one of the literal targets of Sarah Palin, who had a gunsight crosshairs over Gifford's name on her, Palin's website (which she took down, but which has been saved by others). Giffords, a Democrat, had just won re-election over a Tea Party challenger. Of course Palin is only one symptom of this hate and violence syndrome. The Tea Party-backed Republican who ran against Harry Reid in Nevada, Sharron Angle, said that if the ballot box fails, there's always the "Second Amendment remedy." This goes back a long ways in American political life, and too often includes legitimation by top officials, such as Donald Rumsfeld's lamentation that we would have to invade Iraq because we couldn't effect the more efficient "single bullet solution."

Time to repeal the Second Amendment.

It is no longer--if it ever was--a wise idea to permit, promote and protect the possession of firearms by anyone. It is time to seriously disarm ourselves and understand the costs and benefits of doing do, as well as the methods by which to make it sustainable. We need to grow up.

The entire purpose of the Second Amendment was to make the government fear the people more than the people feared the government. That's great, but the fear should be not of physical harm, but rather political defeat. The Second Amendment spirit was pre-Gandhian understanding that even if you lost or never had power at the ballot box, there are other powers possible that don't involve violence. This was simply not known to the Founders and it's time to fix this. If we in fact developed a strong enough public opinion and commitment to change, we could achieve in a demonstration of that very power that makes the Second Amendment so obsolete, by using mass nonviolent noncooperation until that amendment was repealed.

Shut down the country with a general strike until the Second Amendment is repealed and you'd see the fastest-acting US government since December 1941.

We need to mature, to improve our democracy. Learning nonviolent mass power is the first, the major, and most important step.


Kelly said...

May your words prompt action. Thank you for the context and content of this post.

Tom H. Hastings said...

Thanks, Kelly, and may your own work bring more peace to this country, radiating outward from your place at the center.

mjbarkl said...

Dear Mr. Hastings:
It is time for those of us who believe the Second Amendment should be repealed
to stand up and run for Congress. To that end I am accumulating links
to web articles and lead comments advocating repeal at . Best wishes, --Mike

Tom H. Hastings said...

Good luck, Mike, and I learned some fascinating things at your webpage. Great links. And good luck. Get into Congress and help bring this overdue change.