Gary Younge on American Gun Culture
Gary Younge spent over ten years in the US working for the Guardian, and gave an thoughtful interview with Uri Friedman in the Atlantic. Sample:
Friedman: During the course of your time in the U.S., how did you come to understand allegations and instances of excessive force by the police?
Younge: [My understanding] didn’t change very much. I’m black and I’ve not been raised to think uncritically of the police as people who are there to give you directions and get cats out of the tree. I’ve always assumed that even though their role should be to protect and serve, that might not be their relationship to me. And that’s true in Britain. It would also be true in America. I’m not even convinced there’s been an increase in police shootings [in the United States]. If there [has been], I would accept that. But we now have devices that can record [police shootings] and a sensitivity toward them, and that [seems to be] what we’re seeing here. What’s changed is a general understanding of the world, but not the world.
Something else that has intrigued me—and this is less an observation than a political point—is that the NRA people who talk about tyranny, [are paradoxically not] insisting on the mass armament of the black community to protect themselves against the tyranny of the police. I know the police aren’t the federal government, but the notion of gun ownership as invoked to me was to protect your individual rights against the state and others. So here’s the state killing people in cold blood—sometimes undeniably. How does that rationalization of gun rights stand in that moment if you’re not calling for the mass armament of black communities? Which I’m not. But one would have thought [gun-rights activists] would have been rather by [black communities’] side. That to me is an illustration that the case that they’re making for gun rights isn’t quite as complete as they think it is. [Their] vision of America doesn’t really include everybody.