Two professors at the University of Texas (UT) have taken a new approach to resisting the impending legalization of concealed carry on Texas campuses: Gun rights are the new segregation.
A new Texas law, passed earlier this year and taking effect in 2016, will allow those with concealed carry permits to bring their weapons onto Texas college campuses and even into classrooms. There is a strong movement of students and professors opposed to the new law, and two such professors released a manifesto for the movement Tuesday that is remarkably open in its hostility toward white men.
“As professors, we don’t see classroom carry to be about our own personal security,” the manifesto says early on. “We will most likely never be shot in our offices or classrooms, even if we were to piss off some white male students with sacrilegious ideas about race, empire, evolution, or god.”
The new manifesto, authored by UT-Austin history professor Jorge Canizares-Esguerra and UT-El Paso political science professor Patrick Timmons, both leaders of Gun Free UT, was released in an email urging opponents of concealed carry to attend a Tuesday rally. In it, the authors argue that it’s misguided for opponents of concealed carry to focus on whether the new law will increase or decrease violent crime rates.
Instead, Canizares-Esguerra and Timmons explicitly frame the conflict as a racial one, with supporters of gun rights cast as white racial oppressors who are the heirs of slavery, Jim Crow, and other acts of “settler colonialism.”
“We are witnessing the great ideological return of settler colonialism,” they say. “America has all along been about the sheer display of white male power (with guns): over Indians, over slaves, over females, over Mexicans, over Asians, over African Americans, and over Arabs. [The] return of the vigilante movement is a giant, collective white push back against the Civil Rights Movement and against the unintended consequences of globalization,migration, and demography.”
The two authors also make the unusual argument that Texas’s concealed carry law is unconstitutional because it results in the suppression of free speech.
“When a student brings a gun into our individual first -amendment [sic] right to control the bond of trust and community that is constitutionally under our care,” they say. “Yes, this is a classroom he has privileged his individual right over our right to establish and control the bond of trust and community in the classroom necessary to teach. The mere presence of guns can intimidate and thwart free speech.”
The two then return to equating gun rights with racism, blaming a “toxic ideology of white racism and libertarianism” for infringing their “individual right to determine the nature of the community of trust within our classroom.”
The manifesto ends by suggesting that those who carry guns are no different from those who attempt to hurt others by causing a panic.
“What differentiates an individual who seeds mistrust and puts people at risk by shouting ‘fire,’ in a crowded theater, from the individual who carries a gun into our classroom? Neither the shouter not the carrier can avail himself from constitutional protection.”
More than 250 UT professors have signed a petition protesting the new Texas law. In October, economics professor Daniel Hamermesh announced he was resigning his position and going to teach at another university, claiming the law drastically increased the chances a disgruntled student would assassinate him. Supporters of concealed carry have accused Hamermesh of being a false martyr, suggesting he was planning to leave anyway and chose to blame the gun law for political reasons. (RELATED: Is The Gun-Fearing Texas Prof A ‘False Martyr’?)
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