You’d think the fiasco that was Piers Morgan Tonight would’ve been a pretty good lesson for foreign-born TV stars who have the great honor to appear in Americans’ living rooms every night to refrain from scolding us about our pesky constitution. But, you’d be wrong.
Host Piers Morgan famously took up President Barack Obama’s cause for strict gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook murders and turned his CNN program into nightly opportunity to challenge conservative pundits on the 2nd amendment. The most famous confrontations on that show made stars of then-nascent conservative thought leaders Dana Loesch and Ben Shapiro and sent Morgan back to England to root for his favorite “football” team.
But there’s something about foreigners who have lucrative TV contracts and their insistence to scold Americans for their pesky insistence to keep and bear arms.
Last night we saw two shining examples.
On CBS, Broadway actor and Carpool Karaoke star James Corden felt the need to lecture his audience about how important gun control measures are and how 11,660 people have been killed by gun violence in America in the past 275 days. He failed to point out that the vast majority of those deaths were suicides. In 2015 America had 12.6 suicides per 100,000 people while England had 10.9 suicides per 100,000. So even though Corden’s homeland has very strict gun control laws, his fellow Brits are still finding way to kill themselves at a rate that compares to the American rate.
But that’s just a statistical argument that a knee-jerk lover of freedom like me would put forth to better contextualize the “11,660 people have been killed by gun violence in America in the past 275 days” talking point. Set it aside for a moment. Instead, perhaps it’s worth mentioning that the same “violent gun culture” that Corden wags his finger at us over is the same culture that allowed millions of young American men to quickly join the armed forces and take to the fields of Europe to dispatch the Nazis several decades ago. Yes, gun ownership is more a part of the culture in America than it is in England… so is winning wars.
Meanwhile, on Comedy Central Trevor Noah used his influential voice among millennials to lecture about how crazy we Americans are for owning guns. Noah’s scolding included an apology to the Las Vegas victims on behalf of Americans who stand by the Bill of Rights. “I’m sorry that we live in a world where there are people who will put a gun before your lives,” he intoned from his Comedy (Comedy?) Central pulpit.
As an American who recognizes the important and relevant context of the 2nd amendment, I find Noah to be the most insulting foreigner to lecture us on our historically protected right. One must only read James Madison’s Federalist #46 to understand that the 2nd amendment had little to do with hunting and skeet shooting and much more to do with keeping a potentially tyrannical federal government in check. Now, I know, when one raises this fact in the context of 2017 America one runs the risk of sounding like a David Koresch style “prepper” who has years of freeze-dried food in a well-stocked bunker equipped with a ham radio tuned in to Alex Jones to guide us through the coming Armageddon.
But, allow me, for a moment, to make this point not about America’s federal government, let’s talk about Noah’s South African government which he clearly cherishes as a model that America should follow. Noah was just a child when the racist Apartheid government was finally brought down and disbanded, but for nearly a century black Africans were locked in a struggle to throw off the chains of a racist, oppressive and despicable federal government that withheld basic rights from blacks in a desperate attempt to stay in power.
One of those basic rights was gun ownership.
Not only were blacks in South Africa prohibited from owning guns, the government actually encouraged the minority white population to own guns:
During the height of white-minority rule in the early 1960s, political organizations such as the African National Congress embarked on an armed liberation struggle and formed uMkhonto weSizwe, the Spear of the Nation.
This was beginning of the love affair of anti-apartheid activists with the AK47.
To this day, many black people perceive the Kalashnikov as a symbol of liberation.
The liberation movements said they took up arms because the apartheid government encouraged white citizens to arm themselves against “die swart gevaar” (the black threat).
The authorities instilled a fear that there was something lurking in the shadows, that somehow marauding black crowds would come and take over their prized possessions.
Why, Mr. Noah, was your black mother prohibited from owning a gun, but your white father was not? What would have happened in Apartheid South Africa if every black citizen (the majority of the population) had the right to bear arms? Do you think Apartheid would have lasted as long as it did?
Did the white supremacist government of South Africa prohibit blacks from owning guns because of concerns over mass shootings or violent crime or to reduce suicides? It’s ridiculous to even suggest the idea. It was to keep blacks’ throats under their totalitarian, evil boot.
After the fall of Apartheid those laws were lifted and violent crime rose in South Africa (although legal ownership of guns was certainly not the cause of the rise in crime) and several years ago the government enacted new, strict gun confiscation laws. South Africa is still a violent country and the reasons are complicated. But those issues are for South Africans to discuss, debate and solve. I wouldn’t presume to tell them what they should do based on my experience as an America.
Which is the point.
Yes, American citizens are in the midst of a conversation about the 2nd amendment and gun ownership. For some of us, this “conversation” looks an awful lot like an exploitative political power grab and fund-raising opportunity for liberals who have consolidated their base (and wealthy Super PACs) around the idea that the NRA is evil and America needs new gun control laws modeled after other countries that don’t have a constitutional protection for their citizens to bear arms.
As distasteful and inappropriate as many of us find that politically-charged conversation taking place while victims are still being treated or have not yet been identified by their loved ones (Hillary Clinton’s “Stand up to the NRA” tweet was distributed while Las Vegas police were still accounting for victims) it’s part of the reality of the times in which we live and whether we like it or not, the conversation has been engaged.
But, it’s our conversation to have. It is not a subject we need to be lectured to from foreigners who don’t have the same fundamental understanding of the 2nd amendment and how gun ownership, to many Americans, is a fundamental as freedom of religion and expression. It’s condescending and it’s insulting and it’s career suicide… right Piers?
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.