We know we already posted one tribute to Maya Angelou today, but Yr Wonket is nothing if not fair. You see, we listed a number of her achievements — “poet, essayist, actress, memoirist, historian, educator, civil rights advocate, Poet Laureate, excellent human being” — but darned if we didn’t leave out her most important attribute, which thankfully has been identified by Tim Cavanaugh at the National Review Online: “R.I.P., Maya Angelou, Proud Gun Owner and User.” Because when you think of Maya Angelou, the first thing you think of is her dedication to the Second Amendment.
Cavanaugh admits that her literary output “did not generally keep me up reading all night,” and says that her 1993 poem for Bill Clinton’s inaugural was “so boring economists now believe it reduced America’s 2009 GDP by a quarter of a percentage point.” Haw Haw! But like that Far Side cartoon about the dog in a car fleeing a nuclear strike and excitedly noticing another dog, at least there’s one small detail in Angelou’s biography that really interests him: She talked one time about having a gun!!!!!!! you know what that means? Maya Angelou was secretly a conservative, and almost certainly a Republican just like Martin Luther King! (Even if he wasn’t.) Suck it. liberals! No liberal ever owned a gun!
Getting genuinely excited after two whole paragraphs of having to summarize biographical details, Cavanaugh shares the great redeeming feature of Angelou’s life: In a Time Magazine interview (autoplay video), Angelou explained how she was pretty much like Ted Nugent in her love of firearms (NRO copies an edited-down version of the interview, so we’ll use the more accurate transcript from this column by John Kass):
TIME:Your mother, she was your protector. She often carried a gun, she seemed very fond of guns. Did you inherit your mother’s fondness for guns?
ANGELOU: Well, I do like to have guns around. I don’t like to carry them. But if somebody is going to come into my house, and I have not put out the welcome mat, I want to stop them.
TIME: Have you ever fired a weapon?
ANGELOU: Of course!
TIME: At a person?
ANGELOU: I’ve fired it period, not at a person I hope. I was in my house in North Carolina. It was fall. I heard someone walking on the leaves. And somebody actually turned the knob, so I said, “Stand four feet back because I’m going to shoot now!” BOOM! BOOM! The police came by and said, “Ms. Angelou, the shots came from inside the house.” I said, “Well, I don’t know how that happened.”
Dear lord, we’ve actually found some commonality with an NRO columnist — that is a terrific story, and so very Maya Angelou. Of course, as John Kass notes, “Shooting blind through a closed door is a terribly dangerous thing to do, potentially deadly, perhaps murderous in the hands of the right prosecutor.” It’s a fine way to blow away either a burglar or a family member who’s forgotten their key. So yeah, Maya Angelou, NRA icon, maybe not? Then again, given the behavior of so many other Responsible Gun Owners, maybe yes!
Strangely, the President’s sweet statement on Angelou’s death doesn’t mention her Second Amendment advocacy:
When her friend Nelson Mandela passed away last year, Maya Angelou wrote that “No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn.”
Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time — a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things – an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller — and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking – but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.
Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya. With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya’s day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, “flung up to heaven” – and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.
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