Last Friday, the cop who killed Philando Castile — firing into Castile’s car while the latter was sitting there with his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter — was acquitted of for manslaughter. Two days later, another black person — Charleena Lyles — was killed by the police with her children present.
In the wake of another bout of ever-repeating racialized violence and systemic failure to account for it, Trevor Noah spent some time on The Daily Show digging into a particular racist hypocrisy relating to the responses to the murder of Castile: the fact that his case would, if he were a white man, surely have been adopted by the NRA to advocate for gun rights.
As you likely recall (as Noah notes, because “his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed it on Facebook Live”) Castile was shot dead after declaring, in an attempt to avoid a confrontation, that there was a firearm in his possession, but that he was a licensed gun owner. (Which is to say, he was shot for being a non-white licensed gun owner.) Noah says:
Every time I watch that video. the question I ask myself is, ‘How?’ Just … how? How does a black person not get shot in America? Because if you think about it, the bar is always moving. The goalposts are always shifting. There’s always a different thing that explains why a person got shot. Oh, the person was wearing a hoodie. Oh, the person was running away from the police. Oh, no, the person was going towards the police. Oh, no the person was running around at night, oh, no the person had a legal firearm, the person didn’t have a firearm. At some point you realize, there’s no real answer. You see this video, and you see the verdict, and you go, ‘How?’
Noah points to one detail in this story that should have gotten a historically very conservative group riled up to fight for justice for Philando Castile: the fact that he was a legal gun owner. It’s the story “of a man being shot because he was lawfully armed.” As such, the NRA would be a group you’d expect to be all over “this case particular case.” Instead, they were dead silent.
“It’s interesting how the people who define themselves by one fundamental right — the right to bear arms — show that once race is involved, the only right they believe in is their right to remain silent,” says Noah.
Of course, the NRA is the group that fights for the rights of murderous machines over the rights of children not to be killed at school, son the fact that they’re hypocritical and gross should come as no surprise whatsoever. And it should also be mentioned that it would be sickening to see the NRA actually co-opting this tragedy for their dangerous cause. But the fact that the vocal group have apparently made no statements on it — according to the Washington Past, they’ve made no statements at all on the case since last July — also shows the racist nature of their defense of the second amendment.
Watch the Noah’s segment, which begins around the 4:10 mark in the video below: