Arming teachers and administrators inside of schools met with considerable resistance from educators’ unions, advocacy groups, gun rights organizations, and concerned citizenry. It is safe to say that, except for those elected officials who are so firmly convinced of the absolute necessity for high capacity magazines and fully automatic weaponry’s availability to the general populace, Wayne LaPierre’s post-Newtown position caused nothing short of a public outcry.
Reaction from the right has been mixed – with former staunch NRA supporters (including congressmen and private citizens) taking to the airwaves to protest LaPierre’s pronouncements. YouTube broke out in a rash of lifelong, card carrying members of the NRA hacking their memberships to pieces on camera. The outbreak of devastating shootings after Newtown (as if we had not seen enough,) rekindled the conversation that focused American’s cultural lens inward to question the nationwide love affair with firearms.
An oft repeated refrain murmured from the lips of enraged weapons owners is that they serve to ‘protect them from an oppressive government.’ Of course, this is a convenient phrase flamboyantly tossed about to indicate that the protectorate’s opinion regarding the current administration and its attempts to curb access to high capacity magazines, or fully automatic weapons, or implement the Affordable Care Act or legalize same sex marriages. But perhaps a re-examination of “oppression” is a valid enterprise at this juncture.
Currently, we are waging full frontal (and sideways, and internal) offensives against the Taliban on foreign soils for a variety of reasons. Central to that list of oppressive regime characteristics is their pervasive, consistent, single-minded focus on ensuring schools are closed, learning restricted to only essential fundamental religious texts passed on through oral tradition, and students for generations remained illiterate; unquestionably a humanitarian crisis, and plainly evidenced by their almost guaranteeable prolonged absence of economic growth.
Here in our own insular exceptionality culture, we have seen similar developments: repeated school closures in every community of every state in the nation, demonization of teachers as spreaders of socialist doctrine, or leeches on the state economy, or incapable of ‘performance.’ Allotments in state and local budgets continually shrinking, New York State’s own education budget experiences consistent annual reductions ongoing since the Pataki era – someone who ran on a platform that he would an ‘education governor.’ Impossible to achieve performance indicators continue to be imposed on educators, students, and schools for the sake of competition while students’ reading comprehension, problem solving skills, and capacity for critical thought diminish to invisibility.
But the repressive ideology does not stop there. In Phoenix, legislators are fast tracking a bill to arm at least one faculty and/or administrator in each school building, in effect indoctrinating the student population into a mentality of ubiquitous firearms culture to go hand in hand with the state’s already dismal educational attainment statistics. At the same time, Sherriff Joe Arpaio’s bullying tactics drew so much attention this year that the Department of Justice opened an investigation into his racial profiling practices and inhumane treatment of detainees. Texas has revamped their science textbooks to include creationism and intelligent design, and begun exporting them to other states, though the city of New Orleans recently rejected the texts in a crucial school board decision. Michigan and Wisconsin both passed legislation this year to strip labor unions of much of their bargaining power using highly controversial political trickery, and essentially guaranteeing fewer jobs and lower wages for their citizenry.
Several states in the union are frantically scrambling to write blockages to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, and impediment that could potentially prevent some millions of currently uninsured or underinsured Americans from receiving proper health care. An in those states, from New York to California, fossil fuel companies are leveraging government to allow hydraulic fracturing of natural gas reserves – a known carcinogen producing, water supply toxifying, greenhouse gas releasing, unsafe process solely to reap exorbitant profits when readily available, non-toxic, sustainable, equivalent energy level producing alternatives not only exist, but are scalable in their scope to such a degree as to be an easy replacement. Allowing the fracking process free rein is tantamount to using nerve gas on your own people.
Religious indoctrination, racial profiling, voter suppression and intimidation, income inequality, denying healthcare, dismantling the educational system, pervasiveness of gun culture, poisoning the environment, domestic spying, and a perpetual state of war how the mighty have fallen. Long has our exceptionalism been gone from us. Can the above not be termed oppression? Would a facile comparison not be made between the above and any of the human rights causes for which we now fight in countries not our own? Is not the role of the teacher to instruct our youth in the ways of liberal Democracy?
Consider this: the above listed crimes against humanity were perpetuated by duly elected representatives to local, state, and Federal offices in these United States. The tactics are nothing less than oppressive, designed specifically for obviation and control of whole populations. Whenever they are perpetrated in overseas nations, they are cause célèbre to put our boots on the ground and in harm’s way as self appointed world police. But who will save us from ourselves?
Consider again the teachers of this nation. Overstressed, underpaid, mistreated by the media and moguls like Michelle Rhee. Already haggard, harried, and hung out to dry by the well documented oppression of officials from their own government, the NRA seeks to put military style weapons in the hands of those remaining from a once great tribe. It is to wonder why more teachers are not clamoring for more weapons and ammunition for the enviable purpose of “protecting themselves from an oppressive government.” Certainly, it is to wonder why they are not seeking to develop even greater numbers of partnerships with Second Amendment advocacy organizations, asking them to donate firearms in greater quantities. Of our populace’s collective, unequivocally it is the depth and breadth of the faculty here who could be trusted in the judicious implementation of defensive artillery. In the end, they are the only ones worthy of the office, for no one advocated the widespread arming of adolescent African American males in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s untimely demise.
Like most cultural institutions designed to support and enhance a militaristic culture, the NRA’s continued pronouncements are reactive – at best, – and a guarantee of mutually assured destruction, if allowed to perpetuate. One of the most famous dictators from South America – Juan Domingo Perón – interviewed during his rise to power and the populist revolution received the following question: “Why do you not arm your followers?” To which he artfully replied: “It is always easy to give the people guns. It is not so easy to take them away.” The gun lobby should absolutely be pointing the mirror of conscience at itself to see the smoking gun of responsibility for these tragedies in their hands. Following that, they should be extremely careful what they wish for, lest it becomes their very stark reality.