In Superman comics, Bizzaro World is a cube-shaped planet on which all normal rules of reality are reversed and everything is the opposite of the way it is on Planet Earth.
It is also the only place imaginable where Ann Coulter’s assertion that “For more than a hundred years, Republicans have aggressively supported arming blacks, so they could defend themselves against Democrats” could possibly be uttered with a straight face.
That’s not all Coulter had to say. Writing about the Trayvon Martin case in an article posted Wednesday on Townhall.com, she declared that if it were indeed true that George Zimmerman killed Martin because he was black, then “every black person in America should get a gun and join the National Rifle Association, America’s oldest and most august civil rights organization.”
“Gun control laws were originally promulgated by Democrats to keep guns out the hands of blacks,” she wrote, noting that “the KKK was an outgrowth of the Democratic Party” and that the Anti-Klan Act of 1871 was passed under a Republican president.
We’ve heard this line before: Republicans, who are constantly getting accused of racism, are the “party of Lincoln.” Democrats, who were secessionists and KKK members, are the real racists.
Coulter, like others who make this argument, aren’t 100% wrong. It’s just that they’ve conveniently forgotten a rather large chunk of 20th century history in which the two parties rapidly switched places on a matters of race and states’ rights, with the Democrats taking a sharp left and the Republicans skidding decisively to the right. Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, two of the most stridently conservative politicians of the late 20th century, began their careers as Democrats. Thurmond left the party briefly in 1948 to run for president as the segregationist States’ Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrat) candidate, and permanently in 1964 in protest of the Civil Rights Act – which was, as Coulter seems to have forgotten, passed at the strong urging of President Lyndon B. Johnson, a southern Democrat. Helms, who in 1983 famously attempted to filibuster the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday, stuck with the Democrats a little longer than Thurmond but became a Republican in 1970, shortly before his first run for Congress.
But those itty bitty details don’t matter to Coulter, who, in reference to a book by militant black activist Robert F. Williams, titled her Townhall article “Negroes with Guns” and spent several paragraphs lauding his bravery.
A controversial figure within the early civil rights movement, Williams was a military veteran and NRA fan who in the late 1950s founded the Black Armed Guard to fight the Klan. He was suspended from the NAACP after saying that blacks should “meet violence with violence,” and is considered a major influence on later militant movements like the Black Panther Party. During a period of self-exile from the United States in the 1960s, Williams reportedly met with Communist leaders Mao Tse-tung and Ho Chi Minh.
Coulter, who is not a known fan of communism or militant liberation ideology, somehow forgot to mention these facts in her little screed.
She is not the first gun rights advocate with a selective memory for history. Second Amendment hardliners have for decades argued that, had it not been for gun control laws promulgated by the Nazis, the Holocaust would never have happened. This theory was popularized by the late Aaron Zelman of the far-right Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, who claimed that the 1968 Gun Control Act was explicitly based on Hitler’s gun laws.
In fact, Hitler liberalized gun control laws for everyone but those he considered enemies, so while it’s convenient to recast him as a gun control fanatic, it’s also patently disingenuous. That hasn’t stopped gun rights advocates like NRA leader Wayne LaPierre – who has also described federal agents as “jack-booted government thugs” and accused President Obama of having secret plans to strip away Americans’ guns – from embracing it. “If every family on this planet owned a good-quality rifle, genocide would be on the path to extinction,” he once wrote.
With help from hardliners like Coulter (who in March compared critics of George Zimmerman to a Klan lynch mob), LaPierre and his organization have also been the main force behind the “Stand Your Ground” law being used to justify Martin’s killing. Just yesterday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, appointed a 17-member task force to review the law, which police cited as their reason for not arresting Zimmerman immediately after he shot and killed Martin in late February. Zimmerman, who on April 11 was charged with second-degree murder, is reportedly claiming self-defense under the Stand Your Ground law.
According to an analysis by the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been invoked at least 130 times since 2005. In the majority of those cases, the person who used it did not face a trial. Of those, 50 were never charged with a crime, nine were granted immunity by a judge, nine were dismissed, and 10 pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Twenty-eight cases made it to trial, resulting in 19 guilty verdicts. The other cases were still pending.
Zimmerman’s bond hearing was set for Friday, and in light of menacing talk from groups like the New Black Panther Party (which last month offered a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman’s capture, “dead or alive”), his lawyers have expressed concern for his safety should he be set free.
By Ann Coulter’s logic, there’s no reason to think he won’t be a-okay – as long has he’s still got a gun to defend himself against people retaliating for his previous efforts, that is.