Who’s to Blame?

Enter the Babylon System
by Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce
Vintage Canada, 360 pages, $22.00

(Canscene) Here comes another rant about handgun ownership. Not again!

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Oh yes, and there’ll be more because I for one believe that a government ban on handguns would at least be making a statement on the subject however much or how little it would do to stem the flow of illegal arms into Canada. Through the years, Canada has been all too reluctant to stick its neck out on situations like this and it’s time our leaders have us know where this country stands on such important issues.

In this year’s Donner Prize for Canadian books on public policy two of the five finalists centered around street gang violence Neither won the top award but I was highly impressed by Enter the Babylon System written by two young men who publish Pound, a magazine devoted to hip hop culture. The book echoes their distress at the the thought so much rap and hip hop music is handgun related.

Who’s to blame for this? Are the followers of hip hop inherently nihilistic, or are some of them influenced by forces beyond their control? In Enter the Babylon System , Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce attempt to answer questions like these.

It follows of course that the question of the right to bear arms (The U.S. 2nd Amendment) predates hip hop by more than two centuries and that the inspiration for maintaining it comes from a quarter typified by the lobbying and “educational” activities of such bodies as The National Rifle Association and the National Sports Shooting Foundation which are heavily supported by funding from the so-called defence industries

But what shocks Bascunan and Pearce is the cavalier way in which manufacturers in United States, Canada and elsewhere whose business is to provide arms for defense and police forces, show little interest in where some of their product is ending up.

They conclude: “When some of the world’s most powerful people are absolutely corrupt, so ready to go wild with their guns in order to fatten their pockets, it’s really hard to convince intelligent youth that hip-hop is a serious threat to our collective safety. The effect of drive-by shootings is worrisome, but what about the effect ofdrive-by headlines: CORRUPTION, MILITARIZATION, DECEPTION, INVASION? When we speak of Babylon, we are not referring to skin colour, nor are we pointing to any place on a map: we speak instead of a blinding and destructive greed as visible in the grimiest street as it is in the squeakiest-clean cities.

“Canadian media ere quick to demonize young black men, even as our armed forces ‘ “diversity cells” scour the country looking to fill the army’s ranks with visible minorities. And we don’t complain when the military uses weapons by Colt Canada to lure high school students into its co-op program………..And as Canadian soldiers carry their guns into Afghanistan, Canada’s involvement allows for re-deployment of U.S. troops — increasingly in short supply — to Iraq.

“ ‘That’s why I say hip-hop music is just a factor’ (rapper) Mayhem Morearty commented of the latest war in a place long ago called Babylon. ‘That was the most blatant form of gangsterism I seen in my whole life’”
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