Credit: (splc.org)

S.E. Williams

My mother always told me I was too melodramatic. Maybe I am and were she alive today I wonder what she would say regarding my commentary this week that is based on the premise that none of us in America are safe. 

Whether we are hearing chants of “Jews will not replace us,” learning of women being forced to give birth to the child of her abuser, or having a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice advocating for the reversal of sodomy protections and marriage rights of LGBTQ+ citizens, it is easy to forget this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

We must also recognize we’ve become a country where immigrants of color-especially Blacks are denied asylum, where the poor are left to languish on the streets, where mothers with children are forced out of housing due to an inability to catch up with past due rents, where schools are banning books, and where many major media outlets continue to emphasize the need for a form of ‘fair and balanced’ reporting that never truly existed. 

For those willing to look, it is easy to see how a foundation is clearly being laid for an uncivil society where none of us who fall outside the model of the straight, christian, heterosexual white male will ever be safe without their approval as long as zealots control many of the courts and elected leadership positions in a country where state’s rights offer a green light to abuse of power and control. 

“Would you harbor a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, a heretic, convict or spy? Would you harbor a run away woman, or child,a poet, a prophet, a king? Would you harbor an exile, or a refugee, a person living with AIDS? Would you harbor a Tubman, a Garrett, a Truth, a fugitive or a slave? Would you harbor a Haitian, Korean or Czech, a lesbian or a gay? Would you harbor me? Would I harbor you?”

Ysaye M. Barnwell

When all of this is considered in light of the nation’s obsession with guns as we continue to kill one another without reason disproportionate to any other country in the world–it serves as another indication we are in danger. And, although the January 6 insurrection was a poorly executed rehearsal of what may come, it was a rehearsal nonetheless. 

The availability of guns and the penchant for violence as continuously demonstrated in senseless mass shootings–mostly (though not all) executed by young white men many of whom mistakenly believe their white privilege is being unfairly taken away. 

This, combined with rabid hatred of the other being fueled by a media system where dis and mis information is weighed by the same measure as truth or information has become so contorted and repeated on social media with perverse intention that even people of good will are getting caught up in an ‘us against them mentality of Darwinism where “only the strong” survive. 

The mis informed believe what better way to exhibit strength than to walk around with the most threatening weapons available as a metaphor for their manhood. 

Such thinking has always been dangerous however when coupled with the movement of fascist nationalist ideology currently sweeping large swaths of America today must serve as a warning sign that if this movement is allowed to continue unabated eventually everyone becomes fodder for the hunting game whether they be elderly people in church, concert goers on a warm summer evening, people picking up groceries on their way home for work, college students, high school students or elementary-aged kids in red states or blue state, no matter race, creed or color. No one will be  safe and many will seek refuge not unlike those we turn away from our borders today. 

(source: gunviolencearchive.org)

I know people own weapons for different reasons and although such possession runs contrary to my personal and spiritual  beliefs I do not judge others who chose them. What I question however is the “wild west” mentality displayed by too many gun owers. 

The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive that tracks gun-related deaths and injuries in near time reported 23,282 gun deaths and 20,188 gun related injuries in the U.S. as of July 11, 2022 and the numbers continue rising year over year. 

Gun laws are important and do help mitigate gun violence to a point but until something can be done to pull this nation from the brink of fascism, gun laws alone will not be enough. I hate to sound cliché but sometimes when reason does not work clichés are all we are left with. We must continue looking for ways to build bridges, to talk with those who fear and/or despise us because of how we worship, our race, our ethnicity, our sexuality, our age, our profession, and the list goes on.  

Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” And for those who don’t subscribe to this theory because they believe in the power of their weapons I would refer you to another exalted purveyor of non violence, the man who inspired King, Mahatma Gandhi who once wrote, “The strength to kill is not essential for self-defense; one ought to have the strength to die.” It is quite obvious these purveyors of hate are cowards in this regard. 

Of course this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.