Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Study finds racism, gun ownership linked in U.S.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Specifically, for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism (on a scale from one to five), there was a 50% greater chance of having a gun in the home and a 28% increase in the odds of supporting permits to carry concealed handguns.

The authors describe symbolic racism as a belief structure underpinned by an anti-black feeling established in younger years through exposure to negative stereotypes such as "blacks are dangerous."

"This anti-black affect is not necessarily conscious or deliberate but may be felt as fear, anger, unease and hostility towards blacks," according to the researchers.

"The symbolic component reflects the abstract view of blacks as a collective rather than as individuals, as well as its basis in abstract white moralistic reasoning and traditions," the authors state.

More here.

I can almost hear it now.  "Oh, so we're RACISTS now, are we?  That is SO weak and lame.  Race-baiting at its absolute WORST."  Okay, hold your horses and take a chill pill here for a minute.  As far as I can tell from the article, the study deals with subconscious racial attitudes, not with conscious intellectual choices about the issue of race.  And subconscious attitudes, that is, ideas which are out of your control, are nothing with which to be ashamed.  Indeed, upon years of self-reflection, I've come to realize that I have some subconscious racial attitudes, myself; I don't like it, and try my best to be wary of them when I can, but they are there, just because I grew up in white Texan culture only a brief few years after the end of Jim Crow.

So just relax about this.  Nobody's calling gun owners racist.  At least, not the kind of racist who wears a hood and burns crosses.

Having said that, this finding is absolutely fascinating in that it fits very neatly the thesis Michael Moore advances in his film Bowling for Columbine: white America lives within a culture of fear.  The idea is that historically the ever present threat of Indian attacks and slave rebellions profoundly affected the genome of American culture.  We white people have been taught, for so long that nobody even remembers why these days, that we are to fear the other because he may very well slit our throats while we're sleeping.  I definitely got this self-destructive education while I was growing up; I even remember a clear instance or two of this happening when I was little.  And I definitely felt it affecting my thoughts and behavior well into adult life.

Fortunately, I eventually embraced liberalism, which forced me to take a long hard look at myself to truly understand what was going on within me.  So, while I never had any desire to own a gun, fortunately, I certainly understand the emotional dynamic that would make somebody want to do so, fear of the other, fear that the other is going to kill me and my family.  And I know that this is a real thing, something that cannot simply be banished overnight through sheer force of will.

So what the anti-gun left has to consider, now that we have some hard evidence on this, is that simple appeals to logic and reason are not enough when it comes to gun regulation.  We're dealing with some very real fear, found deeply within the human psyche, instilled starting with infancy, and ultimately hardwired into that psyche, for good.  Somehow those fears must be addressed within our rhetoric, or we're just going to go back and forth on this for eternity while shooters continue to shoot up schools, airports, shopping malls, abortion clinics, sporting events, day care centers, churches, and on and on.  

This is beyond logic.  We need to take that to heart.