“A matter of perspective.“ It’s an axiom we hear all the time…enough that most of us don’t think about the literal phrasing. A “perspective” is literally a “point of view,” or the way something appears from the standing point of the observer.
Imagine a soldier stationed in Iraq. We’ll call him Sgt. Smith. To his buddies, Smith is the fourth in their poker game, a funny guy with plenty of stories to tell and always a Marlboro to lend. To those back home, he’s a loving husband, a great father, a member of the PTA, a regular taxpayer, and someone who never fails to take his dog, Kale McBarker, in for annual check-ups. Mr. Smith is, by all accounts, a great guy.
Let’s shift perspective, shall we? Now, you’re a brown-skinned little boy from Northern Iraq, living in a shack. It seems like every day, you see your uncles, older brothers, friends and even mother carried back in bloody, canvas hammocks. Their bodies are riddled with shrapnel and bullet holes, and slashed by broken glass from exploding buildings. A few were Taliban…most were not. They were casualties of a war they never wanted.
Now, imagine you go downtown to buy some goat for tonight’s stew. You see a beige-clad U.S. soldier at the stand, doing the same, smiling and laughing with the meat stand owner. Your eyes burn at the sight of his M-16…you wonder if it fired the bullet that tore through your brother. You wonder if it will fire the bullet that kills you. The patch on his vest says “SMITH.” SMITH is now, and will always be, a monster.
That’s the difference a change in perspective can make. One person’s loving husband is another’s nightmare. One person’s security is another person’s angel of death.
Yesterday, we reported on a protest held by the anti-guns-for-everyone Moms Demand Action at a bar ironically called “The Alamo” in Texas. It was ironic, because this protest of four women was a counter-protest to the massive (and technically illegal) gun rally held at the Alamo last month. Read the report on it here, and be prepared for some standard Alex Jones apoplexy.
MDA’s platform is gun control…something that the fine folks at Open Carry Texas have a serious problem with. Enough of a problem that about a dozen members of the same showed up with assault weapons in hand to stage a counter-counter protest to MDA’s. A passerby (NOT a member of MDA, as has been falsely reported) asked the OCT group to line up for a picture. From that passer-by’s perspective, the group looked like this:
Yes indeed…just a bunch of regular old Americans, posing for a picture. Very benign, very good-father-y. Very “Mr. Smith.“ But the photo below was taken by another person at the same time…a side perspective of the same group. This is the one we and many other sites have posted with the original story.
From this perspective, the group looks a little different. Here, we don’t see smiling faces, or Good ol’ Boys out havin’ a good ol’ time, hanging around the American flag. Here, we see a bunch of armed thugs standing in a parking lot.
Take away the smiles and the flag, and you see them as we do: they’re focused, clutching killing machines, ready to put them to work. In this picture, we see a sight that inspires hate and terror in all but the one person they’re smiling at. Here, we see SMITH; the monster, the brother-killer, the thing that makes the life we’re trying to live into a daily nightmare of death and bad news.
Which picture is right?
To most of us, it’s the second one. We see people standing around in public, brandishing killing machines. Even under the best circumstances, we see an attempt at normalizing death, terror and the tools associated with them. We see an intentional reminder that “they” are never far away, that the world is a deadly place, and even at your family dinner at the Black Eyed Pea, you’re not allowed to slip into the comforting illusion that society is a useful thing. You’re not allowed to believe that civilization is a thing worth fighting FOR, instead of AGAINST. We see people normalizing death, intentionally (and none-too-subtly) threatening anyone who ideologically opposes them.
We see that the mere public PRESENCE of these people is, IN ITSELF, a threat.
And they know that you know it.
Of course, they’re far from threatening if you’re the one asking them to pose for a picture. To those who like them, those who they’d call friends, they’re just some good ol’ boys havin’ some fun at the expense of a few dumb “libtard p*ssies” (we’ve been called this and much worse all day long). If you’re a friend, they’re your friend…and you get the first picture. You get Mr. Smith, long-time PTA supporter…you get memes like this:
Then you get questions like this, posted by The Truth About Guns, responding to our original article and picture:
Were the civil rights marches of the ’60′s aimed at “intimidating” the racist power structure of the time?”
Before anything else:
YES. Yes they were. Those marches existed primarily to show a force of numbers, which is first and foremost, a show of force. All displays of force carry with them an implicit threat. They say:
- You can’t stop us all, and
- We have the power to challenge you.
So, yes…those Civil Rights marches absolutely carried with them an implicit threat. “Implicit,” as in “a threat that is inherent to the very existence of a thing.” The difference being that in the Civil rights era, the threat was a political one — the group said “We have the power and support to vote you out of office.” Here, the group is small, but the threat is more acute. These groups say “We don’t have the power to vote you out, but we have the power to kill you.”
That’s the implicit threat. And you’d better believe, it’s intentional.
Despite their “Mr. Smith” protestations of dumb innocence, they’re well aware that the threat they imply — not political, but a threat of absolute violence — is inherent to the public gathering of armed opposition. They know it frightens all of those who don’t toe their political party line, and they get off on doing exactly that.
Maybe that’s why they’re smiling.
So, which picture is right? Which one is most accurate? Well, it depends on your perspective, but the simple answer is…
Back in Iraq, Sgt. SMITH…he’s laughing and smiling with the goat meat stand owner. He turns and sees the little boy, and recognizes the burning look in his eyes. He sees the boy’s eyes fixed on his gun. He knows the little boy hates him, and he knows immediately why. He doesn’t hold it against him. Sgt. Smith is there to bring peace…he’s not there to intimidate little boys who don’t like him. The fact that he does, just by virtue of his presence, doesn’t make him smile.
He wonders if a bullet from his gun killed the boy’s father, mother or brother.
Sgt. Smith doesn’t like his gun. He respects it, because it’s saved his life. He might even love it, because it’s saved the lives of his fellow friends and soldiers. But he doesn’t like it. He doesn’t worship it as a symbol. The noise it makes, the bucking of recoil, the spray of flame…he doesn’t enjoy these things. His gun isn’t an item of fetish…it’s a tool that nobody should ever have to use. But that, too, is a matter of perspective.
Especially to the people in these photos…BOTH of them.
While these people put on the airs of soldiers, they’re no more so than two-year-olds wearing their father’s shoes. They’re not “rights advocates” — they’re gun FETISHISTS. They have a relationship with the gun, nearly as a sexual object…and certainly as a means of ideological penetration. We know that 91% of veterans favor universal background checks; 100% of this group doesn’t. A combat veteran knows that a gun, by its very presence, by its EXISTENCE, is a threat…a detestable thing.
Somewhere in Iraq, a soldier turns to face a little boy; he uses his body to hide the boy’s view of his M-16…at least, as well as he can. No longer glaring at the soldier’s killing tool, the boy looks up. Sgt. Smith smiles, and hands him a few dollars — enough to feed his family for a week.
Somewhere in Texas, a large group of armed men turn to face a few unarmed women. They make sure to display their killing tools…smiling.