Leaving Reynolds out of it, the more I look at the shirt, the more I realize what my problem is with it. I grew up with guys who hunted, in Wisconsin it was hard not to. My cousins, my dad, my uncles all knew how to shoot, even if it was usually rifles and not the handguns pictured here. I don’t share the enthusiasm myself, but I don’t have a gun phobia.
What I have a problem with here is conservatives mocking the idea of diversity by applying it to firearms. As Atrios notes, the subtle message here is that the best way to celebrate diversity is to kill something. And while I’m tempted to be grateful that at least in this case the wingnuts are being honest about their desires, integration and racial tension is a serious problem in this country.
In the town where I grew up, there were streets you simply didn’t cross as a whilte girl, and places where, if you drove after dark as a black man, you were going to get pulled over, at least. Gangs ran a good part of the city, and killed people, and there was white flight, and on and on, forever and ever, amen. It was real, and it was serious, and nobody talked about it.
Words have weight and meaning. I’m a writer; words are my currency, maybe a little of my faith. Taking the few words we have for trying to repair a legacy of racism and destruction and sticking them on a T-shirt to pump up gun enthusiasts is not cute and it’s not funny. It’s not about the guns. It’s about the fact that for right-wingers, diversity has never been anything but empty words. It’s never been anything but a big joke to them.