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Two Isms in America

I lift my informal blogging sabbatical (I’m writing too much to blog, if that makes sense) to note that a few weeks back someone I’m related to (I don’t even want to admit how closely) forwarded a hysterical email composed of various paranoid forwards that postulated, incorrectly, that the federal government was hell-bent on limiting the type of ammo we could buy.

As one poster speculated, “Controlling the ammo was a prerequisite for controlling Russia and China by the communists. Make ya wonder don’t it?”

There has been a run on guns and ammo ever since Obama was elected, despite no proof anywhere that the Obama administration considers limiting access to guns a priority even close to, say, propping up our failing economy or fixing health care.

The reality is that Obama is a citified intellectual who would die of exposure if left to hunt for his food, who wouldn’t know a brass casing from case law, and in any event has his focus elsewhere. He is furthermore surrounded by people like him who have no inkling of how strong folks in some parts of the country feel about their guns, and his people will occasionally judge wrong in their gun legislation, and then be quickly course-corrected.

But myths are more powerful than reality, and the central myth fueling the guns-and-ammo panic is an old and powerful story: A BLACK MAN IS TRYING TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS! Or perhaps that should be “guns,” since the symbolism wouldn’t be lost on a fourth-grader.

It’s funny (or not) how this ism has a parallel with marriage equality, in which, with no supporting evidence, the story is that GAY PEOPLE ARE RUINING MARRIAGE FOR EVERYONE ELSE!

Unfortunately, Obama has had far more impact in this area than he has on guns. It is Obama’s Justice Department that filed a bristlingly homophobic brief on behalf of DOMA, and it is Obama whose big gift to federal employees was to hand them a few ancillary same-sex benefits (because, we are told, DOMA prevents him from going farther).

Meanwhile, a shiny-pulpit minister on the west coast has been telling people — wink wink nudge nudge — that Obama will soon lift Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. A few months back, that would have excited me. Now I feel bored and appeased, as if the point of this rumor is to get me to stay quiet before I realize I’ve been duped again.

We have too many isms in America — isms that divide us, isms that we refuse to acknowledge.  White men aren’t emasculated if a black man becomes president. The sacred institution of marriage isn’t trampled upon if the doors open wider to let in more loving, committed couples. And these are all the same struggles, in the same direction.

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  1. asphalt wrote:

    ooooo.. caaaa…na-daaaa…

    seriously. anyone with a brain knows that if anyone’s breaking marriage, it’s married people. anyone else is a simp.

    ever notice how closely connected homophobia is with mysogyny? at one of its several alien hearts beats the fear harbored by straight men, that they might have to experience the female’s point of view of being hit on by a skanky drunk guy in a bar. 1. not true, 2. if it *were* true, would this be a *bad* thing? and 3. if being gay stays bad, will i – with impunity – get to beat the cr@p out of any guy i’m not attracted to who hits on *me*? ’cause that’s a right that would have been totally awesome — (although it would have been far moreso 20 years ago). if nothing else, i’m sure women in the military would appreciate it, gay and straight alike.

    waiting for the world to change…

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  2. occula wrote:

    I agree, I agree, I agree, and I agree.

    They can never explain how letting more loving, committed people marry can possibly damage marriage.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink
  3. Mike Shell wrote:

    I agree with Asphalt. In fact, I think homophobia (at least against gay males) is a special case of misogyny. It was reading feminist literature in the 1970s (Of Women Born by Adrienne Rich) that first taught me gay politics.

    Meanwhile, I find little thrill in the prospect of abolishing Slick Willy’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise…even though it must be abolished.

    Oh, great! So now we can legally kill people!

    On the other hand, once queer soldiers are legal, the spouses of queer soldiers will want spousal benefits…and, maybe, there goes DOMA.

    But I keep reminding my straight friends: we don’t even have protection against discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations.

    Too bad ERA didn’t become part of the Constitutions.


    Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink
  4. Maia Schneider wrote:

    Hey! It wasn’t me!

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Oh that is obvious ;)

    Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  6. Heather J. W wrote:

    I have to say reading this made my night, I whole heartily agree with you. Love, marriage, guns? …seems so many different things make people upset, and angry. Too much anger in this world, and not enough peace. For all the words I head of defending God, would he really be happy if someone was denied safety and love in his name? I doubt it. I don’t hold religious beliefs in public, but I think that if there is a God, in the sense that many understand….he would never hate. Only be very, very sad when his ‘children’ make silly mistakes trying to be the big kid on the playground.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 1:22 am | Permalink

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