Human Events Blog

The vanilla tears of Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West appeared on Tavis Smiley’s radio show this week to ask a very good question in a preposterously clownish way, as related by the Atlanta Black Star:

During his Smiley & West radio show, Dr. Cornel West spoke on the disparity of media coverage and lack of gun control discussion when it comes to violence against minorities.

“We can’t just shed tears for those on the vanilla side of town. They are precious, but they are no less or more precious than our poor brothers and sisters on Indian reservations (who are killing each other) or be they black or brown or what have you,” West said.

“But it’s a good thing that we now have a discussion on gun control. We need one on drone control,” he continued, “not a peep, not a mumbling word when black folk get shot. But now, Newtown, Connecticut, vanilla side — low and behold we got a major conversation. That’s wonderful. Each life is precious but it just upsets me when we’re so deferential.”

Right off the bat, I’d like to salute Dr. West for raising the important issue of “drone control.”  America’s “drone culture” has made us entirely too comfortable with killer robots, from the Terminator to the cyborg Robocop.  Soon we’ll be blowing each other away in the streets with surplus Predator drones, unless we get some good solid drone control laws in place right now, before drone nuts can form an organized political opposition.  I can already see the bumper stickers: “When Killbots Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Killbots.”

But if you strip away West’s deliberately provocative “vanilla” language, he’s making a good point about the paucity of media coverage for certain types of violence… and it utterly demolishes his facile belief in magical gun control laws.  The man is losing an argument with himself in rea- time.  Because the under-reported violence he’s talking about occurs almost entirely in cities with very tight gun control laws.

The Atlanta Black Star goes on to inadvertently make this point, while leaping eagerly into the shotgun seat of the faulty rhetorical vehicle that West is intent on driving over the edge of a logical cliff:

Innocent African-Americans have been the target of equally unjust violence involving guns, in greater numbers than their white counterparts. Chicago, a city that President Barack Obama has called home for some time, has been under constant siege from increasing violence in recent years, having seen 700 children shot in 2010.

Incidents like the death of Trayvon Martin earlier in the year are as much rooted in gun control law as they are in racial issues. Despite making up only 15 percent of America’s child population, black children accounted for 45 percent of the gun fatalities in 2009 and 2010, according to a report from the Children’s Defense Fund.

Of course, gun control talks in any capacity will help curb violence against blacks and the rest of America’s demographics, but it is unfortunate that those discussions only seem to occur when a certain image of America is challenged.

Ah, so we’re back to America’s pre-eminent “White Hispanic,” George Zimmerman, being summarily judged guilty of “racism” despite ample testimony and evidence to the contrary, and the shooting of Trayvon Martin is portrayed as a failure of “gun control” –  a narrative that tells considerably less than half the story.  This “national conversation on gun control” liberals keep pleading for seems to turn childish awfully quickly.

So, here are a few question for Cornel West and those of like mind.  I already know the answers, and I suspect Dr. West does too.  I’d just like to further our “national conversation on gun control” by asking him to recite the answers out loud.

1. If “gun control talks in any capacity will help curb violence against blacks and the rest of America’s demographics,” why is “Chicago, a city that President Barack Obama has called home for some time” under “siege from increasing violence in recent years?”  Chicago is a gun-free utopia.

2. How many of the black children who made up a disproportionate share of gun fatalities in 2009 and 2010 were killed by NRA members?  Who did kill them, and why?

3. Why are these incidents of urban violence so under-reported?  It can’t possibly be because reporters don’t care about black people, or actively hate them – almost all reporters are good Obama-voting liberals.  Why do they only seem to pay attention when shocking violence occurs in the vanilla swirls of the suburbs?

Part of the problem with this “national conversation on guns” is that people keep trying to drag other topics into the mix, with gun control becoming a magical elixir that will somehow dissolve all social ills.  Many of those ills were greatly exacerbated by the same sort of social policies favored by those who are most eager for gun control laws.  And they’d rather talk about a generalized “gun culture” that conjures visions of gun racks in the window of pickup trucks, or trigger-happy Neighborhood Watch volunteers, without acknowledging certain other “gun cultures” that have a far more proximate connection to the kind of daily violence they generally seem willing to accept without comment.

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