In his typical rhetorical ploy of casting anybody who does not agree with him as morally odious, President Barack Obama Tuesday quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. on the “fierce urgency of now” to justify his new gun restrictions.
These kind of rhetorical sleights of hand by Obama are usually highly effective — witness his popularity and numerous legislative victories. The typical Obama line is that anybody who opposes his particular policies is putting “politics” above the national interest, or just plain common sense.
But quoting King was rather clumsy. The civil rights deity himself packed heat in the 1950s and even applied unsuccessfully for a concealed carry permit after his house was firebombed in 1956.
Plus, local Southern blacks, armed with pistols and rifles, often protected visiting civil rights workers, according to former Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee field secretary Charlie Cobb, author of “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.”
Cobb, who supports gun control but finds Obama’s arguments for such policies a bit disingenuous, told the Washington Gadfly that, “there is story after story of people with guns” fending off Southern racists determined to kill activists.
He cited one telling story of how an elderly black lady named Janie Brewer in Alabama reacted upon learning Klansmen planned to attack her house when she sheltered civil rights workers in the early 1960s.
Brewer made a Molotov cocktail in her kitchen and stationed her sons armed with rifles outside the house. When the cowardly “night riders,” as they were known, arrived, her kids fired into the air.
The night riders beat it fast.
Another example: Monroe, N.C., NAACP leader Robert Williams organized a self-defense group affiliated with the NRA.
In her family memoir, Condoleezza Rice recalled that immediately after the notorious 1963 Birmingham church bombing, her father stood on their porch with a loaded gun to fend off night riders. “Because of this experience, I’m a fierce defender of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms,” she wrote.
And what about the great man himself? Cobb says that Martin Luther King had a “complex relationship” with guns.
Like most Southern men in the 1950s, King owned guns. He eventually renounced them for personal use but “never took the position that people did not have the right to defend themselves with weapons, if necessary.”
After all, what could be a better example of the fierce urgency of now than whipping out a gun in self-defense?