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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/27/19

The American Militia and White Supremacy: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment

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Message Dr. Lenore Daniels

Killing, looting, burning, raping, and terrorizing Indians...were traditions in each of the colonies long before the Constitution Convention.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment

The Southerner's reputation as a fighting man rested not only on what others said about him, or even on what he said about himself, but also on what he had done.

John Hope Franklin, The Militant South: 1800-1861

Three hundred and thirty-six million US citizens. Three hundred and ninety-three million privately owned guns in the US.

The Washington Post, June 19,2018

I'm not sure when I first heard about Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's latest work, however, I recognized the author's name since I read An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States two years ago. The title has a familiar ring to it, that is, if you are familiar with the late peoples' historian Howard Zinn's work, A People's History of the United States. Neither in the titles of both works nor in their subject, that is, history, is there anything coincidental. When I attached the author, Dunbar-Ortiz, to the title, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment , I thought, here would be a discussion of the existence of the Second Amendment, beginning with the evolution of the militia, patrols of armed civilians, instigating terror in the lives of Indigenous and black people.

And Loaded doesn't disappoint.

I've long been suspicious about the Second Amendment. Why the fiery insistence of Americans to "keep my guns." Keep stockpiles of guns, as if for the ready" Ready for what?

I came across the late black historian John Hope Franklin's The Militant South decades ago while researching slavery in the Americas. I hadn't been told about the book, in fact, at the time, the relatively slim volume was out of print. I had to set up time to read Militant in the university library and eventually copy a few chapters from it for later use. But it has always been an unforgettable book because of the way it discusses what is often not discussed in public debates about gun control or the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms. Franklin writes about the formation of the civilian militias, gun-toting citizens, surrounding the borders of US plantations.

The Militant South begins with immigrants to occupied territory in the so-called New World, that is, new to the Indigenous populations throughout the landmass of the Americas. In the Colonies, the European immigrant that becomes the Virginian and Carolinian, writes Franklin, differs from his Puritan compatriots in that the latter seeks to build a society radically different from the Europe he fled. In contrast, the new arrivals to the Virginia and the Carolina plantation life wanted to recreate a familiar world, with "an agrarian social and economic system" where he, originally a member of the common folks, could now pursue an aristocratic lifestyle. In this world, the planter immigrant could see himself "the central figure" in a narrative. A dream.

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Activist, writer, American Modern Literature, Cultural Theory, PhD.

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