Sunday, April 15, 2018

#MarchForOurLives Atlanta & The Myth of False Flags

Me & my children  #MFOL ATL
After Parkland, I marched with my family in Atlanta. As I've previously written, I support Americans' right to gun ownership. I also support the students who are demanding gun control. I am disgusted by the people who choose to publicly shame them. It is a tactless move which uses intimidation and mockery to attempt to invalidate the massacre in Parkland, the students' response to it, the viability of American government and the mountain of data which clearly indicates that 1) Gun control measures do lead to fewer gun-related deaths and 2) Gun control measures previously up for vote were squashed by GOP members who have received significant pay-offs from the NRA.

The people who denounce the students seem to subscribe to the general narrative that the students are being used as pawns by the far left to deny law-abiding adults access to guns so that the government can wield more power over the citizens in anticipation of a major, doomsday style take over. According to those who subscribe to this ideology, Parkland, and other mass shootings, did not actually happen at all but were rather “false flags” staged by the government to promote its own agenda.

The idea of “false flags” became particularly prevalent following the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Following what are officially documented to be terrorist attacks by way of militant, Islamic extremists aboard hijacked airplanes, many American citizens used the internet to generate and spread reports that the US government was itself responsible for the destruction and had deliberately staged it in order to justify military engagement in the Middle East and a war on citizens' privacy in America.

Father & Son #MFOL ATL
As a journalism student beginning my first year of university level study less than one month prior to September 11, understanding these attacks became central to my experience of adulthood. In the years spent exploring information posted across the web by multiple sources, I never found evidence to satisfy me that these attacks were set up 100 percent by our government. I do not, however, see our government as a benevolent force. I see it as a neutral force, with abusive tendencies, which will leverage imminent, or existing, tragedy to forward its own agenda when possible, as well as commoditize its citizens and capitalize off their backs. Government is not something to be trusted explicitly. However, it is malleable and can be held accountable for improving the well being of both people and the planet if citizens actively claim their right to participate within it—as the Parkland students, and a handful of other groups, are doing right now. No. I do not fully support everything they say. Yes. I do believe that some of the parents are claiming their children's battle as an attempt to re-engage with their own politically-oriented careers. However, I do not think that those factors devalue the movement as a whole or justify mocking its current leaders.

#MarchForOurLives is about more than gun control. It is about youth having a voice in government policy and about limiting the degree to which the lobbying arm of the NRA can purchase the loyalty of politicians.

Meanwhile, to the very strong extent that it IS about gun control, I feel #MarchForOurLives is an authentic effort not to remove peoples' rights, but to the call them to exercise these rights with responsibility—for example: requiring gun owners to purchase liability insurance, receive an education, and pass a screen for recorded violent tendencies. For those still screaming “false flag,” I also must pose a few reality checks:

  1. People engage in smaller issues hitting closer to home prior to engaging in larger issues having a more widespread impact. I realize some people are concerned that gun control is a distraction from other policies. I feel gun control is an entry point for engagement with the government and inspires citizens to pay more attention to all policies over time.
  2. Should our government ever decide to attack us, the notion that it will be brought down by a small militia armed with AR15s feels ridiculous to me. That would be a time of fight, flight and large scale revolution during which all current policy would be tossed out the proverbial door and we would all find a new way to survive.
  3. Regarding point #2, governments historically turn in mass on their foreign inhabitants prior to turning on full-fledged citizens. Thus, standing up to America's rampant xenophobia and contemporary immigration restrictions now is probably a better way to guard against a totalitarian take over than fighting for the already limited right to bear arms.
  4. Evidence shows that Russia has employed people to pose as Americans on social media and to circulate memes designed to promote both apathy and chaos, in effect destabilizing our nation and opening the door to foreign leadership which I feel no Americans desire.
  5. Beyond all concerns about our government, we remain humans who will one day die. Many 9/11 “truthers” currently calling “false flag” feel that 9/11 did claim lives but that school shootings are completely fabricated events in which the alleged victims are paid and placed in witness protection. The fact that it is easier for some people to believe in detailed government and/or corporate conspiracies than in personal tragedy and death bears serious contemplation. Sometimes members of society really do become so overcome by their individual sense of pain and loss that they kill people, leaving more pain and loss in their wake. As I have stated in a previous meditation on gun violence, it is important that we grieve. For some, the current fight for gun control is a step in the grieving process, and it is important we honor it as such.

We have much to heal within the USA. #MarchForOurLives can be a step toward doing that, and I am proud to participate.

On a somewhat lighter note, this video by comedian Betty Bowers also speaks to the heart of America's gun control debate. Enjoy.

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