In 2014, Vice Media released Assassination Nation & the Killer Kids of the Taliban, detailing then-ongoing violent conflicts in both countries; a portion of this piece shall make reference to the Filipino half of the video.
Patriots’ Right to Bear Arms
Filipino (like American) gun culture is inextricably linked to political revolution and freedom — theirs from Spain, ours from Great Britain; yes, there is a clear, patriotic rationalization for gun ownership present in both countries. But despite the noble roots, it should be acknowledged that firearms are singly responsible for making an atrocity like the Maguindanao Massacre, when Islamic insurgents slaughtered 58 of Mayor Mangudadatu’s supporters (including his wife and children), possible in the first place — sure, the necessary sociopolitical conditions to foment such brutality could have existed without the presence of firearms, but it’s nearly impossible to refute that weapons themselves are what make mass killings possible. Why engage in discourse or organized protest when bullets make a far bolder statement?
Bullets and Their Political Power
“In a system where violence and killings are met with wealth and power, things probably aren’t going to change anytime soon. Because in the United States, he who campaigns with the most guns, wins.”
This quote almost perfectly encapsulates our current gun situation in the United States; there’s a reason the NRA spent $5.1 million lobbying for the general preservation of the Second Amendment in 2017. It’s incredibly difficult for things to change when senators (who are coincidentally being funneled millions of dollars by groups like the NRA) refuse to even consider passing gun control bills. He who is able to campaign with the most money enjoys an immense advantage over others, and it follows that “he who campaigns with the most guns wins” rings uncomfortably true in our country.
But the wonderful thing about the aforementioned quote is that it’s a slightly altered version of one about the purportedly violent mess of insurgency that is the Philippines, and not about the oh-so-peaceful U.S. of A. Here is the original, transcribed from 11:05 in the Vice video:
“In a system where violence and assassination are rewarded with wealth and power, things probably aren’t going to change anytime soon. Because in the Philippines, he who campaigns with the most guns, wins.”
Again, it poses the question of whether our elite, first world, American society is fundamentally different from a place with more egregious violence, like the Philippines — well, I mentioned the “egregious violence” of the Philippines, but the fact is that in 2012, the state of Louisiana appears to have had a higher rate of intentional homicide (10.8 per 100,000) than that of the Philippines in 2017 (8.40 per 100,000).
Insurgency and Indoctrination: Not by my Country!
The BIFM militia is the Filipino insurgency group showcased within the Vice video. Without a doubt, the most unethical aspect of their plight is their willingness to train and indoctrinate children who are incapable of truly thinking for themselves — something that appears to be a terribly unjustifiable act, something that we will all swiftly condemn.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Shifting gears, let us discuss how here in the United States, a common justification of citizens’ right to bear unwieldy firepower is the fact it, in theory, enables civilian militias to rise up and protect themselves against what they perceive to be a rogue government. With this in mind, consider the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the insurgent Filipino militia group showcased in the film. Once again, this is something whose existence Americans will hasten to condemn, but if Americans are to act in accordance with their Second Amendment beliefs, shouldn’t they support these freedom fighters? These people are utilizing guns to fight for causes that they believe in; they’re fighting against a rogue government who won’t let them properly express their beliefs.
If seeking to voice a refutation, the next probable step here is to mention the BIFM’s willingness to indoctrinate children and use them as puppets for their plight, and proceed to use condemnation of that awful practice to differentiate us from them; to distinguish us, fearless advocates of freedom, who wish for our righteous ideals to spread through the entire world; from them, horrible terrorists, who fight for what they think will improve the world and, more importantly, defer everyone from hell and instead to paradise.
Both groups condone the use of force if necessary and both groups inevitably engage in instilling certain values within children; children who lack the mental aptitude to reject them. The severity of the groups’ actions differ, certainly, but they are fundamentally analogues of one another.
Perhaps when we impose an iron fist upon people who share radically different ideals, we are the terrorists.
American Pillars: Liberty, Justice and Doublethink
Conservatives love to laud the document’s vagueness as testament to its eternal fluidity — its ability to morph itself and adapt to any zeitgeist, without exception — but they so conveniently ignore that such a dynamic composition also necessitates an intoxicating, all-encompassing, doublethink. It’s essential to our whole historical canon: Terrorism is only bad when it’s against us and our capital interests. Violence is only bad when it isn’t in the name of Christianity, capitalism or neoliberalism.
And let us not forget to observe how Second Amendment’s reverence of violent, anti-State uprisings is unbelievably myopic in scope.
The French Revolution? Inspirational! The American Revolution? Undoubtedly a huge boon to freedom fighters everywhere! The Philippine Annexati — err, Revolution? A glorious stride for liberalism at large!
The Russian Revolution? Dear God, no , not good — filthy Communists! And the Cuban Revolution? Curse the name!
And yet each and every one of those revolutions was inspired by and thus fought for liberté, égalité, and fraternité — is it not incredibly undemocratic to so selectively praise certain revolutions and regimes and yet viciously castigate others?
Perhaps Uncle Sam’s decision to use indiscriminate violence to infringe upon the sovereignty of North Koreans, of the Vietnamese, of the Afghans, of the Iraqis, and his subsequent confusion at the immense ill-will harbored towards him by those nations, is a consequence of the fact that one of the fundamental pillars of his democracy not only justifies but glorifies massacres—massacres of the proper, free-market and freedom-loving kind, of course!
When will we admit that the Second Amendment, by essence, indiscriminately justifies violence and massacre? Will we take our heads out of the sand and correct the Second Amendment, as a symbolic reparation to all those who have perished?