“Rape and murder were common, children forced to become soldiers and turned against their own families, and a usual punishment for opposition the amputation of your hands or arms. “Short sleeve, or long sleeve?” asked the militia men as they raised their machetes. When I went to Sierra Leone as a reporter in 2000, the streets of the capital were full of children and adults with missing limbs.” – Sept 19, 2010, report published by The Guardian
As I near 50 years on Earth I’ve been revisiting my youth and considering events that contributed to forming the views I hold today. It’s been an interesting bit of introspection.
For instance, one of my first childhood memories was standing in the living room of our next-door neighbor’s house while a guest of theirs extended his arm out, exposing a serial number tattoo. I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7. I had no idea what it symbolized, but I do remember the mood in the air – how those present were taken aback. Serious, heavy. It was one of those moments as a child you dared not speak. It’s still with me like it was yesterday.
I also recall the stories told by WWII vets I’ve met over the years. Some funny, some nostalgic, many horrific. While I lived through my teens, 20’s, and 30’s, almost everyone I knew, including myself, had a grandparent or relative that was a veteran of that war; having them around helped reinforce reality. Today, the numbers of surviving participants, along with those who experienced the holocaust, are dwindling. Few are left, and their story is shifting from a tangible first person to a passing academic mention.
The Native Americans who lived through their genocide have long passed. The Chinese and Irish who were enslaved have become a footnote. And in a few short years, those who witnessed Southern lynchings will be gone.
Time continues ticking until all that remains is recorded history – Which, inevitably, will include ourselves.
What each generation eventually loses are the first person accounts they can seek out and question. Elders, who once stood up and explained why the “new” idea being proposed wouldn’t work, die off. And the emergency brake of their life experience disappears with them.
As an Article II proponent, there’s a large part of my reasoning that is almost useless to explain when the topic is deaths of children at the hands of psychopathic murders in schools. While the emotional plea is “we must ban guns for the sake of the children”, I’m left pointing to the millions of children that have been murdered in the genocides of the past 130-years. Yes, it’s awful school shootings occur, and there are a plethora of reasons why they do. But, I still have the image of that tattoo etched in my brain. 17 deaths in Florida is not ok, but, in the big picture, the reality of life is risk – and with it, risk management. I’m simply not willing to waive the right of self-defense with firearms and expose myself to the risk of genocide.
To inject such a point into the discussion days after a tragedy is far too ethereal for most to grasp. Attempting that discussion with school kids marching for gun control is depressingly futile. Genocide is something they hear mentioned in passing in the context of “ancient history”. That is, if they’re taught about it at all. They simply have no point of reference. The conveyor is ridiculed and the argument is dismissed with a waive of the hand as “impossible this day and age.” Oh, is it?
In my half century there have been millions slaughtered.
– From 1951-1971, “Papa Doc” Duvalier ruled Haiti. His son “Baby Doc” took over and ruled till ’86. It’s estimated they murdered 30-60 thousand of their people.
– From 1972-78, Uganda’s Idi Amin executed somewhere between 100 and 300 thousand of the Acholi and Lango tribes.
– From 1981-85, after Amin fled Uganda, Milton Obote took control and wiped out 500,000 of Uganda’s population.
– From 1974-79, almost 2-million Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge. At the top of the victim list was anyone wearing glasses.
– 1992, 200,000 Muslims were murdered in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
– In 1994 800,000 Rwandans were murdered in 100-days, most by their neighbors wielding machetes.
– 1998 to 2002, a million+ were slaughtered in the Congo.
– 2003, a half million in Darfur, in part for being Christian.
And the next group primed for the list appears to be white farmers of South Africa.
Political and religious genocide is the constant, predictable, historical human condition – and, in the industrial age, has been preceded with the confiscation of civilian firearms.
Since Florida I’ve heard this question posed daily: Why does anyone need an AR15?
My reply: Short sleeve or long sleeve?
I have a point of reference, and I’ll be retaining my arms…all of them.
““I am particularly sorry for the many children we smashed against trees, and so forth”. – Comrade Duch, otherwise known as Kang Kek Iew. Former teacher, senior apparatchik in the Khmer Rouge regime, from 1975-1979