Oh, that wacky George Takei. The actor recently posted a snarky jibe at gun owners on his Facebook page—a photo of a gun with the caption: “If everyone had a gun, we wouldn’t have to worry about gun violence. This is why war zones are noted for their safety.”
Do you know what you call a war zone where only one side has weapons? A genocide. From the killing fields of Cambodia to the Darfur genocide in Sudan, unarmed and helpless individuals and communities have been utterly destroyed when they were unable to fight back in self-defense. It’s not that war zones are noted for their safety. But a war zone implies an ability to fight back. Someone is an aggressor, but that aggression has been checked by forces acting in defense. If the choice is between fighting and slaughter, yes, I’ll take the fighting chance every time.
A decade ago, while the genocide in Darfur had briefly captured the attention of the Western world, columnist Dimitri Vassilaros of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote an article about arming the victims of that genocide. He spoke with Amnesty International’s Trish Katyoka, who said that providing arms to those being wiped out “creates an added element of complexity. You do not know what the results could be.”
Just in case she hadn’t made her position clear, Katyoka went on to say that “fighting fire with fire is not a solution to the genocide. It is a dangerous proposition to arm the minorities to fight back.”
In other words, self-defense is not a human right. Not to Trish Katyoka, and it sounds like it’s not a human right to George Takei, either. It’s apparently far better to keep oppressed minorities disarmed than allow them the opportunity to defend themselves. That way we don’t have a lot of that “complexity,” just a murderously simple situation that’s easy to explain (and to explain away). If the choice is between fighting and slaughter, yes, I’ll take the fighting chance every time.
This, however, is not the American way. If Takei thinks his position on gun control grants him some sort of moral high ground, he should log off of Facebook and start reading books like Professor Nicholas Johnson’s “Negroes And The Gun: The Black Tradition Of Arms” and Charles Cobb’s “This Nonviolent Stuff Will Get You Killed,” which examines the role of armed self-defense not just in the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, but throughout U.S. history.
Would Takei disavow anti-lynching crusader Ida Wells, who said that, as a means of defense, a Winchester repeating rifle deserved a place of honor in every black home? Would Takei call Hartman Turnbow, a black farmer in Holmes County, Miss., a hypocrite for using a gun to drive off a group of night riders and then claiming, “I wasn’t being non-violent; I was just protecting my family”?
In his post on Facebook, Takei said he knew he was “opening up a can of worms.” Instead of a can of worms, I wish he’d open up his mind and boldly go where others have gone before: A true defense of human rights, starting with the most basic and fundamental of them all—the right to defend your life against those who would end it in an act of naked and unlawful aggression.