Using "Django Unchained" to Woo African Americans on Gun Control is Beyond Stupid

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Ben Cohen
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Larry Ward, president of Right wing marketing group 'Political Media Inc' and Jonathan David Farley, a principal at 'The Warren Group' are using Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti Western, Django Unchained to persuade African-Americans that they should support 2nd Amendment rights and reject gun control. From the Hollywood Reporter:

The group is called Political Media, and it's the same entity that was behind Saturday’s controversial Gun Appreciation Day, which encouraged Americans to show up at various places with a copy of the U.S. Constitution and signs reading, “Hands off my guns.” Larry Ward, president of Political Media, a company that designs websites and organizes ad campaigns for right-of-center organizations, said hundreds of thousands of people participated in Gun Appreciation Day, crowding gun stores and gun shows and demonstrating at various state capitals nationwide.

He’s hoping for similar success with his follow-up effort, dubbed “What Would Django Do?” Ward plans not only a campaign but a nonprofit organization that would bear the name, though he acknowledges he hasn’t sought permission from Tarantino or from The Weinstein Co., the studio behind Django Unchained.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Ward said. “We’ll make sure we aren’t violating copyrights, and if we are, we’ll have to change the name. But Django is perfect for what we’re trying to do, which is to promote gun rights to minorities. We’ll tackle the issue on the Democrats’ own turf.”

It's hard to know where to start with this. It's certainly out of the box thinking and I guess Ward and Farley deserve credit for creativity here. Anti gun control advocates have done a marvelous job convincing white middle Americans that the federal government (and Barack Obama in particular) are coming for their guns through massively blatant fear campaigns, and now it is looking to use those tactics to convince another community blighted by gun crime to experience the same fear. Marketing it through 'Django Unchained', an epic revenge movie that pits a freed slave against his former tormentors is certainly a novel way of doing it. Tarantino's film imbues a sense of power to African Americans who have long been victims of white violence, and the character 'Django' is meant to be a symbol of resistance and pride.

However novel the campaign may be, it doesn't stop it from being one of the stupidest ideas ever.

Both Ward and Farley have argued that it is the lack of access to firearms that has rendered the black community powerless in America. Farley wrote that, "The disarmament of black America led to its spiral of internecine violence, not the arms....Gun Appreciation Day not only honors Martin Luther King, it honors Robert F. Williams, the Deacons for Defense, and the thousands of African-Americans like Secretary of State Colin Powell who got a chance at life, even success, because at some point they owned a rifle.  If African-Americans had had the right to keep and bear arms from the founding of the Republic, America today might be the promised land for African-Americans." Ward also stated on CNN that that if African-Americans had had guns, slavery might not have happened.

It takes about two seconds of thinking to see why their entire premise is complete and utter nonsense. Firstly, given how tiny the African American population was (and is) in proportion to the white European community, there is absolutely no way they could have prevented slavery from happening. Armed slaves would have simply been annihilated by white militias (ie. the government). I guess slavery would have ended in that all the slaves would have died, but other than that, it's hard to picture.  As a side note, exactly how would already enslaved Africans got guns upon arrival in America? Maybe if slave owners didn't have guns, slave rebellions would have been more successful, but to argue the other way around is complete madness.

Farley uses Malcom X and the Black Panther's endorsement of gun rights to support his argument, stating that history shows white violence towards blacks decreased significantly when blacks were armed. He neglects to mention that one of the major pushes for gun control legislation came from the NRA back in the 1960's in response to the Black Panthers arming themselves, and of course the assassination of prominent Black Panther leaders by the US government. The truth is that the white power structure in America is far too big and powerful to have ever allowed black Americans to seriously arm themselves, and any hint of an uprising has been swiftly met with far greater force. The US government has not historically been concerned by the death of black Americans by white Americans. They have however, been concerned by the death of white Americans by black Americans.  The history of armed resistance to oppression is a bloody one, with minorities and the impoverished almost always coming out on the losing end. Civil Rights leaders throughout history have recognized this and built their movement on far more intelligent tactics. The civil rights movement in America was not fought with guns, but through peaceful protest and acts of civil disobedience. As Martin Luther King stated, "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals."

On to the argument regarding gun control in African American communities today. It should be noted that half of all homicides in America occur within the African American community despite blacks making up only 13% of the population. Almost all African American murder victims are killed by African Americans (around 94%), much of that violence committed with guns. While racism is obviously still very real in America, the prospect of white lynchers riding through Chicago's south side, or Compton in Los Angeles is somewhat remote.

I obviously can't speak for the black community in America, but it is abundantly clear that they do not want more guns in their neighborhoods. In fact, African-American and Latino support for gun control runs as high as 83 percent in major polls.

The argument being pushed by Ward and Farley tries to turn the tables on liberals and accuse them of racism for wanting to get guns out of black neighborhoods. Liberals must believe blacks incapable of managing their own affairs and handling weapons responsibly - or so the argument goes.

The reality is that African Americans are well aware of the problems affecting their communities (after all, they do live in them), and understand how best to solve them.  The use of a popular Hollywood movies to encourage gun ownership in black communities will not go down well in African American communities, because, well, it's stupid.

Laurin Hodge, who was brought up in an African American community in Maryland told me, "This is not going to go down well at all. Gun control is popular in the black community because we're affected by gun violence. There will obviously be some crazy elements that think it's a great idea, but most of us want less guns, not more. The campaign is going to end badly for everyone."