If John Brown Were Alive, Could He Help in Ferguson?

 This year marks the 155th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Although he isn’t the most revered figure in American history, he most certainly is honored as a revolutionary and a hero ranging from the likes of Malcolm X to Quentin Tarantino. A contemporary of Brown, famous author, poet, naturalist and abolitionist Henry David Thoreau, wrote an essay called “A Plea for Captain John Brown” and recited it publicly many times before the execution of Brown. He pleaded abolitionist supporters to remember him as a true hero, a martyr, and not as a fool for giving his life for what he believed.

If John Brown, abolitionist, insurrectionist, and self-proclaimed martyr, who called for the immediate end to chattel slavery in the United States were still alive, he most certainly would be of great help in Ferguson, Missouri. His enthusiasm, passion, and belief that no person should be subjugated to slavery or injustice is what people of color in the United States need from the white majority. Although what is happening in Ferguson isn’t slavery, John Brown’s call to action during his lifetime motivated members of the white community in the 1800’s willing to support direct action efforts of achieving equality and justice for the African-American community.

John Brown was born in 1800 in Torrington, Connecticut, where he grew up in a religious household. His father, Owen Brown, was not only an abolitionist by belief, but also an active participant in the Underground Railroad, a network of people, safe houses, and pathways that helped fugitive slaves escape to free states and Canada.  John Brown’s name has been etched into American history for his famous raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now part of West Virginia). On October 16, 1859, John Brown along with 20 other men attacked an arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia with the intent of stealing enough weapons in order to start a slave revolt. His plan failed and he was eventually captured by local soldiers and U.S. Marines led by Colonel Robert E. Lee. John Brown was tried, convicted of treason, and executed by hanging on December 2, 1859. His legacy lives on as a polemic character in American history whose martyrdom is honored by some members of the black community and condemned by others who described him as simply a terrorist.

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So where does John Brown fit into contemporary American social issues? One can argue that a person like John Brown hasn’t existed in the white community since his death.

When white Americans says,  “there is a lack of leadership in the black community” they must recognize that there is also a lack of leadership in the white community regarding racial equality and the call to justice for all people living in the United States. John Brown would be a perfect example of a leader for the white community who could command them in their efforts to combat institutionalized racism and injustice.

The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American, has sparked a new wave of protests condemning not only the use of excessive police force, but also racial profiling, the criminal justice system, and the apparent apathy white Americans have for the plight of minorities in the United States. Michael Brown was shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer on August 9, 2014. Although there is overwhelming evidence and witness testimonies conveying that Michael Brown had indeed tried to surrender to the police officer with a “hands up” motion, he was shot multiple times by Wilson. At an estimated distance of 35 feet from the police cruiser, and no visible weapon possessed by Brown, witnesses heard Wilson fire approximately 10 shots. Based on the evidence present, one can conclude that officer Darren Wilson did not act in self defense, and that Michael Brown was murdered in cold blood.

Two months after the shooting of Michael Brown, Darren Wilson is still on paid administrative leave and has not yet faced charges or arrest. The state and federal investigations are taking a long time to reach a conclusion. Protesters believe this is deliberate, concluding that the local government is hoping that protests in and around the Ferguson – St. Louis area of Missouri will die down. The fact that charges haven’t been formally brought up against Darren Wilson is just the tip of the iceberg for the African-American community as they can foresee the murder of Michael Brown going unpunished. Below the murky waters of American race relations there is a lot of racist backlash against African-Americans coming from the white community with respect to demonstrations and vociferous opposition to unpunished white-on-black murders.

The fundraising efforts of people who support Darren Wilson was one of the first things outside of the investigation that struck a nerve within the African-American community in Ferguson. There were wristbands that read “I am Darren Wilson” being worn by members of the Ferguson police (as if to say that they also supported extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals). There were online fundraisers that had raised more money, about $400,000 for Darren Wilson and his family than for the family of the Michael Brown.

The amount of money raised for Wilson is nothing compared to the vitriol and racial hatred perpetrated by television news pundits and online social commentators. Young black men, who dress, act, or look a certain way are victims of verbal abuse in the media when they are all referred to as “thugs” “gangsters” and “hoodlums”. There has been an additional racial polarization in the United States regarding white America’s negative perception of young black males, hip-hop culture and whether they are innocent/guilty in the eyes of the law. As if the election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States, wasn’t enough to cause deep-seated racism to surface, the killings of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and John Crawford, by white men has opened up old wounds in the African-American community, reminding them of lynchings and unpunished murders, which lasted from since the end of the American Civil War up until the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960’s.

The American prison system is disproportionately filled with African-Americans compared to white Americans. It is estimated that “one in three black males will end up in prison”. Similarly, African-Americans, along with other people of color, make up approximately 30% of the U.S. population, but represent 70% of all arrests and 60% of the prison population.

Constant police surveillance, police brutality, harsher punishments and longer sentences for people of color is akin to modern-day slavery and social injustice. John Brown would condemn the American prison system and fight tooth and nail until all unlawfully imprisoned people of color were released. Missouri is one of the states continuing the tradition of disproportionately sending people of color to prison.

John Brown definitely could be of good help in Ferguson in order to show other white people what true support for justice looks like. After a few weeks of protests and demonstrations in Ferguson, Governor Jay Nixon deployed the Missouri National Guard. Protestors were met with excessive force in the form of tear gas, flash grenades, riot police and soldiers with high-grade military equipment. It basically looked like a war zone in Ferguson during the Governor’s “invasion.”

A parallel can be drawn between how white Americans feel about social injustices, whom they support, and how the media portrays key players during a controversial event. One example comes from the Cliven Bundy standoff. Bundy is a Nevada rancher who has been disputing with the United States Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees. With the threat of government repossession of Bundy’s cattle, protests ensued and armed militias, mostly right-wing white Americans, came out to support Clive Bundy in an armed standoff against federal agents. Although those who supported Bundy were armed and aggressive, the government agents didn’t fire cans of tear gas, flash grenades, nor did the Governor of Nevada send in the Nevada National Guard. Conservative news media personalities like Sean Hannity were quick to support Bundy and his anti-government crusade, but soon realized how racist Bundy was when he made comments like “are black people better off as slaves?”.

How would John Brown respond to Cliven Bundy’s remarks about black people being “better off as slaves”? He would have killed Clive Bundy and all who attest to racist ideology. John Brown would have joined the protestors in Ferguson, Missouri to support the African-American community against the local police, the state police, the National Guard, and federal agents. He would have mounted his own militia of fellow whites to help protect the African-American community from white aggression.

The importance of having white people fight alongside people of color in Ferguson is tantamount to how the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s was such a success. In the same way, John Brown represented the ideologue of vengeful justice through direct action since before the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln, well known for upholding his abolitionist beliefs and declaring war upon the Confederacy for breaking up the Union, later paid for his beliefs with his life. Later on, during the 1960’s, John F. Kennedy was killed for unknown reasons, but speculation has it that he was killed for trying to end the Vietnam War, and for trying to give civil rights to African-Americans.

Although John Brown’s personality and legacy as a Christian religious fanatic and insurrectionist can be seen as somewhat of an ethical dilemma for pacifists, atheists, and the United States government, it would be interesting to see how much could been achieved as far as civil rights in America if a person like John Brown were around. John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry on October 16, 1859 is said to have been one of the key factors in polarizing the country so much that it started the Civil War, which restored the Union and ended slavery. The positive aspects that came after the most devastating war in United States history is difficult to justify on both sides. In the spirit of the 155th anniversary of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, there is Ferguson October, which is a call for action and civil disobedience pleading for justice not only for Michael Brown, but all American citizens victimized by the prison-industrial complex. There are some things that aren’t as simple as being labeled as liberal or conservative. Morality, liberty and justice have no political party, and therefore, more people should abandon party affiliation and fight injustices for all people regardless of race, class, or gender.

By: Opton A. Martin

John Brown: Mártir y Terrorista, Héroe y Villano.

¨Los héroes y villanos tienen los mismos motivos, espíritu y corazón. Es el público que decide si quiere olvidarles en la horca o si se les acuerda en la tumba.¨

2014: La Unión Europea consiste de países como la República Federal de Alemania y la República Francesa. Después de la Guerra Civil Estadounidense (1861-1865) la esclavitud norteamericana ya no es legal. El Reino de España después de casi cuarenta años de una dictadura ultra derecha se unió con sus vecinos europeos en tener elecciones democráticas. Después de revueltas de esclavos en Haití, Francia con Napoleón Bonaparte de Primer Cónsul tuvo que vender los territorios de Luisiana, un territorio que extiende de Luisiana a Canadá aproximadamente un tercio del territorio de los Estados Unidos. Haití en 1804 consiguió su independencia tras derrotar a las fuerzas francesas, británicas y españolas. También han liberado sus vecinos de Santo Domingo de los españoles.

¿Cómo sería la vida en aquellos países si Alemania Nazi ganó, si Los Estados Confederados de América ganaron contra los norteños y mantenía la esclavitud, si Francisco Franco hubiera perdido la Guerra Civil Española, si Napoleón nunca vendió Luisiana a los Estados Unidos con la administración de Thomas Jefferson, si los Haitianos no consiguieron su independencia en 1804…?

En 1805 había un millón de esclavos en los Estados Unidos. En 1860 había cuatro millones de esclavos. A los esclavos  les trataban simplemente como propiedad y activos económicos. A los Estados Unidos valían aproximadamente tres mil millones de dolares.

Lo que es moral no es necesariamente legal.  Lo que es legal no es necesariamente moral. La esclavitud en los Estados Unidos seguía creciendo durante el siglo XIX sin parar. El beneficio económico para los negreros, inversores y el negocio internacional se solidificó la política de la época. Desde cuando Cristóbal Colón llegó a América en 1492 los europeos usaron el cristianismo y la búsqueda de oro para justificar la esclavitud, la guerra y conquista de los ¨paganos¨

John Brown el abolicionista usó el cristianismo no para justificar la esclavitud, sino destruirla. Es único porque en los ojos de los Estados Unidos y la historia estadounidense que enseña en las escuelas norteamericanas se le recuerda a John Brown como el único terrorista honrable.

john brown photo

John Brown nació en el año 1800 en Torrington, Connecticut, EEUU, parte de una región conocida como Nueva Inglaterra. En el norte de los Estados Unidos había un movimiento de abolicionismo, morales, éticas y doctrinas religiosas en contra de la esclavitud. Los origines de la filosofía del abolicionismo en los Estados Unidos se formaba a base de una combinación de la Ilustración estadounidense, (American Englightenment) que abarca todo el siglo XVIII, y las éticas de los grupos de protestantes como los cuáqueros y calvinistas. El padre de John Brown, Owen Brown, era calvinista y se crió a sus hijos de así manera. En 1805 la familia de Brown se trasladaron a Ohio.  El efecto que tenía el padre de John Brown sobre él era profunda. Su padre le decía que la esclavitud es un pecado y que es imperativo terminar con ello.  Con dieciséis años John Brown viajó para seguir sus estudios en Connecticut y luego viajó y vivió en muchos lugares como Massachusetts, Nueva York y Ohio y trabajó como un sastre, granjero y más.

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Durante su vida vio como los negreros pegaban y azotaban a los esclavos. Se dio cuenta que los negros en los Estados Unidos no tenían derechos. Hasta los negros ¨libres¨ no tenían derechos tampoco. Durante su juventud se hizo amigos con niños esclavos y vio como su amo le pegaba y trataba. El padre de John Brown y él ayudaron a los esclavos escapados con el ferrocarril subterráneo, una red de casas, caminos y túneles para esconder a los esclavos fugitivos en camino a estados libres o a Canadá.  John Brown leyó sobre la revolución de Haití y las revueltas de esclavos en otras islas del caribe. Vio como Nat Turner, un esclavo afroamericano dirigió una revuelta en 1831 que resultó en su captura y ejecución.  Elijah Parish Lovejoy, un ministro presbiteriano y editor de periódicos fue asesinado en 1837 por una multitud de pro-esclavistas en Illinois que no apoyaron sus publicaciones abolicionistas. Puede decir que todas las acciones y experiencias abolicionistas y revolucionarias que vio John Brown le impactó de alguna manera.

En respuesta al asesinato de Elijah Lovejoy durante una reunión abolicionista John Brown proclamó, ¨¡Aquí, ante de Dios, en la presencia de estos testigos, a partir de ahora, consagro mi vida a la destrucción de la esclavitud!¨ Así empezó lo que los históricos dicen que es la ¨radicalización¨ de John Brown.  Justificó las acciones violentas contra la esclavitud como su destino, su deber en frente del dios, para matar para poner al fin a la esclavitud. Creía que la única manera para terminar con el pecado de esclavitud una insurrección armada.

Entre los años 1840 y 1850 John Brown conoció a los más importantes escritores, activistas, lectores y abolicionistas de la época. Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth, son contemporáneos de Brown que participaban en activismo, sermones, publicaciones y el ferrocarril subterráneo. Sin embargo, la mayoría de abolicionista y intelectuales preferían una resolución pacifica para terminar con la esclavitud. John Brown mantuvo que sólo hay una manera liberar a los esclavos: matar a todos que apoyaba la esclavitud.

Con la llegada de la ¨Fugitive Slave Act¨ o la Ley de Esclavos Fugitivos de 1850, parecía que el congreso de los Estados Unidos iba al contrario al abolicionismo. La ley fue escrito por los pro-esclavistas para castigar a la gente que intentaban ayudar a los esclavos que escaparon de sus amos. El camino común para muchos esclavos era irse del sur hacia el norte. El país en aquel tiempo fue dividido prácticamente en dos: el norte consistía de estados libres (donde la esclavitud era prácticamente ilegal ) y los estados del sur donde consistía de estados esclavos. La Ley de Kansas-Nebraska de 1854 abrió territorios a los que quierían colonizar los territorios en el centro de América del norte. Habitantes de los estados a su alrededor de los territorios de Kansas y Nebraska querían expandir la esclavitud. John Brown y sus seguidores empezaron un conflicto armado, un pequeño guerra civil contra los pro-esclavistas intentando ocupar el estado nuevo. Se conoce el conflicto como ¨Bleeding Kansas¨ o Kansas Sangrienta.

John Brown encontró muchas tragedias durante su vida. Tuvo dos mujeres durante su vida. Su primer mujer murió durante el parto del séptimo hijo. Se casó de nuevo con Mary Anne Day. Ella tenía 16 años y eventualmente tenía 13 hijos con él. En total John Brown tenía 20 hijos, pero solo 11 vivían a ser adultos.

El final de John Brown es la parte más conocida de su historia y legado. En 1859, después de planear, recaudar fondos y armas, su plan consistía en atacar un arsenal y empezar una revuelta de esclavos. Durante el 16 de Octubre de 1859, John Brown dirigió una redada en el arsenal del pueblo de Harper´s Ferry, Virginia (hoy en día parte de Virginia Occidental). Con sólo 21 hombres, entre ellos dos hijos, el plan de Brown era ocupar el arsenal, robar los rifles y armar a los esclavos cercanos para que podían luchar para su libertad. Brown tenía la esperanza de que los esclavos pululaban como una ¨masa de abejas¨.  Durante el primer día consiguieron tomar el arsenal, pero con el paso del tiempo la situación empeoraba cuando el conductor de un tren pasó por el pueblo y llegó a la próxima estación para comunicarse que ¨150 abolicionistas¨ han tomado el pueblo de Harper´s Ferry con la intención de liberar a los esclavos. Se informaron al Presidente de los Estados Unidos James Buchanon y envió a Harper´s Ferry soldados, los marines, dirigidos por Coronel Robert E. Lee. Los marines y soldados estadounidenses sobrepasó en numero a los esclavos y el ¨ejercito de John Brown¨.

Cuando llegó el ejército estadounidense han asesinado a 10 insurgentes de Brown, incluyendo sus dos hijos.  John Brown fue capturado y juzgado un mes después. Se declaró culpable de traición y condenado a ejecución por horca el 2 de diciembre 1859. Las acciones de John Brown y sus seguidores provocó una nueva discusión sobre la institución de la esclavitud. La confianza entre los sureños que apoyaban la esclavitud y los norteños en contra de ello se deterioró. Fue entonces que los sureños empezaron a preparar a las milicias por si acaso que otro norteño pretendía copiar las acciones de Brown o una posible guerra civil.

Políticos y miembros del partido republicano (el partido con muchos abolicionistas) intentaron mantener la distancia de John Brown y sus acciones porque el año después de la redada de Harper´s Ferry había una elección presidencial. En 1860 Abraham Lincoln ganó las elecciones y los estados del sur cuyo economía se basaba del labor de los esclavos separaron de los Estados Unidos para formar los Estados Confederados de América. La Guerra Civil Estadounidense empezó en 1861 y terminó con la victoria de ¨La Unión¨ o el norte sobre el sur en 1865. En 1865 el congreso ratificó el Decimotercera Enmienda a la Constitución de los Estados Unidos que abolió la esclavitud.

Las acciones de Brown destaca sólo un ejemplo de un hombre blanco haciendo algo tan revolucionario para la vida de los negros. Para atacar la institución de la esclavitud a su corazón es un acto noble. Dedicó su vida a la lucha contra el racismo y quería vivir en un mundo donde los negros y blancos pueden vivir como iguales. Había en su época abolicionistas que todavía no veía a los negros como iguales. La Guerra Civil Estadounidense liberó a los esclavos, pero tardaba cien años más para que los blancos en el Congreso de los Estados Unidos pasara las leyes para garantizar derechos civiles para los ciudadanos de todas etnias.

Mucha gente no puede comprender lo que ha hecho John Brown. Hoy en día, tanto como en el pasado, se les compara John Brown con terroristas y extremistas religiosas como Osama Bin Laden. Sí, es evidente que John Brown usó el cristianismo para justificar matando a la gente que apoya la esclavitud, pero ningún otro blanco en la historia de cultura popular estadounidense se sacrificó individualmente para las vidas de los negros.

Hoy en día hablan mucho sobre ¨el privilegio blanco¨ y como el racismo en los Estados Unidos hace la vida más fácil para los blancos que a las minorías. John Brown también tenía privilegio blanco y lo usó para enviar un mensaje a los blancos y a los negros. El racismo de hoy es un problema grave en la sociedad americana. Hay muchas minorías luchando cada día en contra del racismo. Sin embargo, hoy en día falta acción y interés del congreso y la gente común en combatir el racismo moderno, brutalidad policial, violencia con armas y el terrible sistema penitenciario. No puede ganar la justicia, hay que tomarla.

Por: Opton A. Martin

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Possible Solutions to Increase Efficiency of Voter Participation and Representation

¨When the State uses high technology, it´s usually working against the population in that personal information is forcefully collected, distorted, and made to intimidate us into thinking that we´re all criminals, without due process. When the general public uses high technology, it´s usually for entertainment, which blinds us into thinking everything is just great.¨

The power of numbers and statistics allows people to gather enough information in order to act on solving or causing an expanding or contracting situation involving a population. As digital and fiber optic technology reach speed of light velocity, people can be quick to react to stimuli in their surrounding areas. One example of a rapid development contrived by social media is the Arab Spring of 2010-present. Some people give credit to social media like twitter for helping connect people before, during and after protests, so that people could offer all types of services, aid, and exchange of ideas. This is one way social media wasn´t used only for entertainment.

As much as some people would like to ¨live off of the grid,¨ which is to say, ¨auto-sufficiency, out of the government´s eyes,¨ people all over the world still have to use state services to obtain simple things like a driver´s license, a passport, pay for taxes, go to a university, graduate high school, and enlist in the military. Registering to vote is probably the last thing on this list of things Americans would want to do involving the State, but would more voter participation procure a society that were more representative, and better?

Voter participation is at an all time low in most countries in the world, the United States in particular is dropping fast possibly due to Congress having record low approval ratings.  What I hope to offer are possible ideas that could advance voter registration and representation to ameliorate, or lessen, systematic racism, sexism, gentrification, xenophobia and all other forms of minority discrimination.

Voter participation is lower in U.S. compared to economic allies.


Above: data from 2011 from http://www.idea.int/vt/https://lifeinthecsu.wordpress.com/tag/civic-education/

Here is a list of things that could be changed in the United States to get people into the habit of participating if they want to.

1) Change the voting day to Sunday: The United States is possibly the only country in the world that votes on Tuesday. Most other countries, about 42 of them, that have higher voter participation than the U.S., vote on Sundays. It is the day of the week when more people are available. Although one would imagine that American politicians are against Sunday voting because it is ¨God´s Day,¨ recognize that there is no official religion in the United States, it is not a theocracy, and voting on Tuesday does not seem that efficient. Data has been collected suggesting that 17% of Americans use the excuse of  ¨conflict with schedule¨  for not voting. This could be due to the fact that ¨Election Day¨ is not a holiday – the majority of people still have to work – and work comes before voting for someone who is eventually going to disappoint you anyway.

2) High School graduation rates are up to about 75%,offer registration: I remember being able to register to vote before I graduated from High School. Students who were seventeen-years-old, were able to register to vote at school, if their 18th birthday fell before Election Day in November. Those who were interested registered because student clubs made it their priority to try to register teens. School should be able to offer this service to all students who want to.

3) 85% of Americans have a driver´s license, offer voter registration: Government agencies like the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) U.S. Mail (for passports) and the local city hall are government services that collect all of your personal data: residence, age, height, weight, prior convictions, marital status etc, they should offer to register people to vote. They don´t have to collect data about your political party, but it could easily be a point for voter registration.

4) Give Felons the right to vote back: What are the politicians afraid of? That all the felons in the United States will unanimously vote to legalize crime? Either change the Constitution or honor it. Under the 14th, 15th, & 19th Amendments to the Constitution, the state must not deny a citizen´s right to vote because of their color, race, sex(gender), or previous condition of servitude. Grant them the right to vote! People ignorant enough to regurgitate political talking points about what the Founding Fathers said, did, or wrote in the Constitution, fail to implement and support basic human rights. One would think that going to prison is punishment enough for a crime when in actuality, you become a target for entrapment, abuse, constant surveillance and disenfranchisement. There are about 6 million American felons who cannot vote, even after serving their time in prison.

5) Stop gerrymandering and implementing voter identification laws:  There isn´t much a person can do once an elected official decides during his or her term in office that prohibiting voter turnout by trickery or requiring special identification is best for their citizens. Racism plays a huge part in the repartitioning of local and state districts that are predominately black, latino, asian, white, native american etc, in order to consolidate their constituents. Knowing that the majority of Blacks vote Democrat and happen to live in isolated, concentrated parts of metropolitan areas, Republicans are ¨gerrymandering¨ or redrawing the map in order to exclude African-Americans from voting in a particular area. Voter ID laws are also directed towards people of lower income who might not be able to afford a car, or the price for a voter ID card.

Becoming Naturalized Citizen in the United States has some generally requirements including passing a an exam. Citizens born in the United States generally have no idea what the process of becoming a citizen is, also, an embarrassingly low number of them could not actually pass a citizenship exam or have much knowledge of civics. One of the questions on the Citizenship exam is: ¨What is the greatest or most important right granted to U.S. citizens?¨ The answer: the right to vote. If voting is the most important right, why has it been taken away from so many people? Why is it so hard to get those rights back? It just goes to show that ¨rights¨ can be less important than privileges if they can be taken away for more time than you spend in prison. There are currently 6 million Americans who have had their right to vote rebuked.

(list of disenfranchised citizens:http://felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000287)

Becoming an actual candidate in an election is a whole other story. U.S. voters cling firmly to red and blue – Republican and Democrat. The Reds and the Blues team up when a possible third party or fringe group intends to wedge their way into their voting block. The current Tea Party, Libertarian Party and Independents are unfortunately satellite parties of Red and Blue in that they use the mainstream parties as their surrogates in order to carry their ideas to the people. Although Red and Blue might be ¨too big to fail,¨ it also helps to force these candidates to discuss tough issues by introducing a third, fourth, fifth, sixth party – might as well form a parliament – to the political scene to represent the 317,000,000 American citizens.

By: Opton A. Martin

Old World Guns v. New World Guns

“Execution and defamation is a New World Order tactic for censorship.”

“The New World Order seeks to destroy traditions and monuments, some hundreds or thousands of years old. It’s an international club of powerful men who have more in common as military, political and economic partners than their own countrymen. They exterminate and slander those in their way, those who they hope will be forgotten.”

Only sometimes is death preventable.  Sometimes knowingly, mostly unknowingly, we engineer dangerous societies with flawed socio-structural elements that are designed to push certain groups of disenfranchised people to the periphery. The lower class are limited by economic, educational, and representational boundaries, which are supported by the suburban middle class who vote for these policies.  Those living at the periphery fight against one another because they compete for the little resources that have been left for them. The the “center” is off limits, because it is being guarded – this is where legislative, political and economic power control the elements of the state – the semi-failed state.

Gun violence in the Americas (with the exception of Canada) from the United States to the tip of Argentina and Chile is very different than gun violence in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. It differs in the motives behind how gun violence is distributed and executed and the prevalence of such. The similarities between Old World Guns and New World Guns is that it all comes down to who controls the territory, space, land, turf, region, zone, state, country, caliphate, community, block, city, roadways, access, building complex, county, town, island, trade route, port – and above all natural resources (money). Although robberies could account for much of the world’s use of firearms illegally, the Americas have the problems of heavy drug trafficking and the drug war which makes up part of regular, day to day gun violence.

The flow of drugs through the Americas normally flows South-North and ends up into the hands of North Americans and Europeans to be consumed.  The citizens of the United States of America consume more illegal drugs than any other country in the world. Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Mexico and everywhere in between has been plagued with intense violence from gangs who amass their empires and personal protection from the money generated by the drug trade, extortion and bribery of police forces. The illegal gun trade is just as much a part of the illegal drug trade in that one is needed to protect the other – they go hand and hand. Central American and Caribbean countries suffer a great deal from the drug trade because of their geography. It is a narrow passageway for cartels coming up form the South American mainland. At about 82 homicides per 100,000 residents, Honduras has the highest murder rate of any country in the world. Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador are also stretched thin by narco-trafficking and violence, which has caused a humanitarian crisis that is the irregular immigration of children to the United States.

The current war-like levels of violence and armed conflicts in Central America was propagated from the foreign policy campaigns under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush who supported the Contras (anti-leftist commandos), in covert operations and coup d’etats against left-wing ideologies including Marxist-Leninists, Communists, or any political fraction in support of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro’s revolution. Reagan authorized the CIA to help fund and train the Contras to fight against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. And who can forget the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 to dispose of Manuel Noriega, former CIA employee, and narco-trafficking military dictator. The U.S. government effectively helped to establish Latin American drug cartels with out-of-work Contras  who before fought against leftists. The Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980s was real, not a fabricated conspiracy, which highlights how little we know about how deep these operations run in Latin America.

The drug war continues in mysterious ways as the U.S. government helps to create some of the chaos, especially with their “Fast and Furious” operation of 2006-2011 in which the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) sold weapons to those they believed were tied to Mexican drug cartels (in an attempt to “track” them).  Eventually those same weapons began appearing at brutal crime scenes in Mexico, and the Mexican government was perplexed as they were not informed of these American operations.

As American police crack down,  drug prices go up, the cartels make more money, they buy more guns, they become more violent, then they control more territory. Drug cartels continue to look for newer routes for transport of guns and drugs, which at times causes the violence to “bottleneck” in small countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Jamaica, which have the highest rates of homicides (per 100,000 people) by guns in the world. Jamaica has become especially violent since cocaine and other drug shipments have diverted to travel through the Caribbean via Jamaica. If drugs were legalized or at least partially legalized, drug cartels would have less demand ergo less money to fund their armed conflicts. Or Americans and European could stop doing drugs all together, which will never ever happen.

In Europe and Asia gun violence is far less prevalent than in the Americas. Legislation in these geographic areas generally only permit gun purchases for hunters and law enforcement officers. In Spain for example, if you want to buy a shotgun, you have to get a hunting permit, hand guns are rigidly regulated. In the United States, buying a gun doesn’t require much of anything besides money. The United States Constitution states that bearing arms and forming a militia is part of independence and homeland security, therefore, gun-ownership is a cultural thing in the United States. It is a direct result as to why there are about 88 guns per 100 Americans, making the United States the most gun-packing nation on Earth. It might also shed light on why cities like Chicago boast 500 homicides a year, the majority of them being gun-related. High gun related homicide rates in U.S. cities over 100,000 people are common – they shouldn’t be.

Some countries in Europe have relatively high gun ownership rates, but don’t suffer the amount of gun violence present in the Americas. A European capital like Madrid, Spain, which has a population similar to Chicago (including metropolitan zones) suffers from only about 30 homicides a year, with only a fraction of them being gun related. Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand and island nations in Pacific, have similar gun related homicides to Northern Europe.

Only Switzerland and Finland come almost close to the United States in gun possession at about 47 guns per 100 Swiss and Finns in their respective countries. Gun violence is rare in Europe even among police:

” According to Germany’s Der Spiegel, German police shot only 85 bullets in all of 2011, a stark reminder that not every country is as gun-crazy as the U.S. of A. As Boing Boing translates, most of those shots weren’t even aimed anyone: “49 warning shots, 36 shots on suspects. 15 persons were injured, 6 were killed.” – thewire.com

In the United States on the other hand, it is not uncommon to hear a story about a single police officer who shoots a person 90 times.

Crime and police protection with the theme of race and ethnicity are part of what make America an unsafe place for minorities as they are treated differently than European Americans. In 2002, police officers in the United States killed about 313 African-American men. Gun violence and police execution of a minority group has been calculated as “Every 28 hours a Black man is killed by the police in America.” Gun violence comes from those who have completely lost their sense of humanity – it’s the mechanization of murder.

In Asia, China and Japan have effectively gotten rid of gun violence. Japan has almost 1/2 of the U.S. population (128,000,000 est. 2010) crammed into an area equivalent to California, yet might have about ~2 gun-related homicides per year.  Buying a gun in Japan is an enduring process, there are strict limitations on the type, there are psychological and metal exams, a course must be taken, and it is subject to government inspections. In China, private possession of firearms is practically forbidden for citizens. The lack of guns and lack of gun related violence are clearly related, but the subject is more complex in countries less industrialized.

One of the main things that separate gun violence in the United States to gun violence in Europe and Asia is culture. Americans feel the need to have a gun because it was instrumental in carving out the North American continent in a Wild Wild West fashion, whereas Europe and Asia have older nation-states that were conquered by marriages, diplomacy, trade routing, epic battles with swords, cannons and mammoths crossing the Swiss Alps; in Europe and Asia, they have other ways of having fun besides shooting at things in their back yards, or shooting at people in their front yards.

The continent of Africa and the Middle Eastern region have some gun violence, but these current “Old World” conflicts are New World Order endeavors. Ancient African and Middle Eastern kingdoms were cut out centuries ago the same way kingdoms were formed in Asia, India, and South America until they were abruptly invaded, and geographically redrawn by Europeans in the 18th,19th, and 20th centuries. Current places like India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt, and Israel were all cut up by the British and the French who ignored cultural, linguistic and ethnic elements when they crammed different people into a states.

Conflict zones like  Syria, Libya, Sudan, Mali, Israel, Yemen, Pakistan and more, require guns and armaments to be sent from Western nations (i.e. North America, Europe and Russia). As these zones become flooded with more weaponry, the violence continues as new fractions seek to redraw the lines that were left there by the Europeans in the first place. It is a revolving door of violence, but the Westerns nations profit the most so long as the guns keep firing.

Though it might seem simple enough as to just restrict firearm availability to reduce firearm homicides, it might not be that simple. If people want to kill each other, they will do it. In South Africa, where the homicide rate is higher than in the United States, firearm homicides account for only 45%, while in the United States the rates is about 67%.  There are deep-seated social problems that lead to friction between groups of people. The availability of firearms only exacerbates social tension of lack of resources. What is certain is that in the Americas, where many countries are at “peace” , they have just as many or more casualties, as current war zones. These problems must be addresses as to not coerce the governments of the Americas to deploy  futuristic, dystopic, and Orwellian permanent military police who will monitor the streets with tanks, machine guns and stun grenades. The police states pre World War II of the 20th century were bad, the police states of the 21st century will be worse.

by Opton A. Martin