No, it’s not a joke. Actually, it kinda is. BuzzFeed Contributor Kashana Cauley’s article is a pathetic attempt to paint Indiana gun show attendees as old fat white racist rednecks. As you know, the first part of that isn’t entirely wrong. It’s the racist bit that gets BuzzFeed’s gun control juices flowing . . .
On the first Saturday morning in August, I stepped out of my car in a suburban Indiana parking lot and watched three middle-aged white men aim squinty-eyed suspicion at me from two spaces away. As a Wisconsin native, I’m used to squinty-eyed white Midwestern suspicion. But since we stood several hundred feet from a lot of guns and I figured the guys were probably armed, my feet froze. I had to drag myself to the entrance of the Kokomo Gun Show, where a brown-haired stocky white guy in his twenties talked to his friends while resting his elbow on a rifle butt as if leaning on a gun was the most natural posture imaginable.
White men! Squinty-eyed white men! With guns! In racist Indiana! If that lead doesn’t indicate that Ms. Cauley had an axe to grind, I don’t know what does. Well, maybe this . . .
Four people sat at the registration table: one white guy in his fifties and three women in their twenties, one of whom was black. Her blackness threw me off nearly as much as the mood outside. We made the sort of eye contact that meant we’d acknowledged each other’s blackness but we weren’t going to bond over it. I paid the $5 admission fee and told the guy, who called me sweetie, that since I didn’t have a gun I didn’t need to check mine while I shop. I turned away from him toward tables filled with more guns than I’d ever seen, forgot how to breathe, and retreated to the bathroom to calm myself behind a locked stall.
Hoplophobe much? Perhaps Ms. Cauley wasn’t the best person to send to a gun show – unless you’re trying to “prove” that it’s a nest of racists tooling-up to murder Americans of color. Dan reckons the gun show should have created a “safe space” to which she could have retreated and comforted herself with soft toys, fuzzy blankets and New Age music. Wait, it gets better/worse . . .
Black people aren’t part of the big tent of gun ownership. We’re never assumed to be law abiding, reasonable gun owners. That kind of gun ownership is seen as an upstanding white person act; a picket fence closed to outsiders like blacks. I wanted to see what was on the other side of the slats separating me from perfectly honorable, white people gun show attendance.
I think she’s being sarcastic at the end there. In fact I’m sure of it. I wonder if Ms. Cauley knows that American gun control was born from racism. Doubtful. Anyway, as hard as Cauley looks for racism at the Indiana gun show n– and boy (no racist intended) does she ever — she comes up empty. Well, not entirely . . .
I turned a corner and found an overweight man in his sixties with a thin halo of hair and suspenders holding up his jeans behind a table full of bumper stickers. Confederate flags screamed redly among the black and white right-wing slogans. Here, in the Union state of Indiana, which outlawed slavery in 1820, gun owners embrace the national symbol for being willing to go to war for your right to abuse black people.
“Never Give Up!” one said.
“Deal With It!” said the other.
Looking at those stickers was like being slapped in the face.
And . . . that’s all folks. Confederate flag decals were all Ms. Cauley could find to confirm her prejudice that gun shows are prejudiced. No matter what you think of the stars and bars, that’s pretty weak sauce. Still, you gotta give Cauley credit for making something out of [virtually] nothing. Or not.