The Gun Debate and The Raffle

I didn’t write The Raffle Series to be political. Yes, I studied geopolitics and history in college, but The Raffle is not a manifesto. It’s science fiction heavily influenced by what’s happening in our world.
BUT, it’s impossible to ignore the rampant shootings frequently occurring in the United States today. The very recent terrible events in Gilroy, El Paso and then in Dayton have caused reflection this past week about the American Gun Debate and how it plays out in The Raffle Series.
According to one study cited in a recent Guardian story, “…white supremacy is the key to understanding America’s gun debate.” When I read that line, I thought, yes, and white supremacy is a key to understanding several complex themes in The Raffle Series too. 
Without spoiling too much of The Series, if you read all four Parts, you know a religious, subversive white supremacist group isn’t satisfied with the autonomy it has received in the New United States. It wants to dominate rather than just exist more openly. It’s just never enough. Much like the ability to carry guns in this country: Gun right purists don’t want any regulation and want the ability to carry assault weapons and advanced ammunition. And they want to be able to do so in public. 
Tying this demand to the tenets of white supremacy, the study provides that, “The intensity and polarization of the US gun debate makes much more sense when understood in the context of whiteness and white privilege.” The story cites Dr. Johnathan Metzl, who notes that, “Carrying a gun in public (emphasis added) has been coded as a white privilege.” 
Metzl further notes that the shooter’s identity dictates the after-shooting narrative: It will either be focused on the individual or a cultural group/religion depending on the skin color of the shooter. “When the shooter is white, the context is the individual narrative – this individual (emphasis added) disordered white mind. When the shooter is black or brown, all of a sudden the disorder is culture. The narrative we tell then is about terrorism or gangs.” 
In other words, one “bad” brown or black person makes all brown and black people guilty. Because nonwhites are unofficially under “heightened scrutiny” in the United States. As Metzl notes, “…there are… stories about African American gun owners who would go to Walmart and get tackled and shot.”
So, what does this have to do with The Raffle Series? Unfortunately, it has a tremendous impact on The Raffle Series. 
One of the many correct predictions in the novel (which will be the subject of future posts) was the election of Donald Trump in 2016. When Part 1 of The Raffle was published in January 2016, the racial tensions, threats of global terrorism/rogue actors like North Korea, and our country’s hangover of the same political participants caused me to think that an outsider like Trump had a chance. 
Other people thought I was crazy, and then I started to believe them. I thought, the only way someone like Trump could win would be if a massive terror attack occurred. And I was wrong. While I feared the racist elements in this country could have an influence on the election, they mixed perfectly with the religious fundamentalist elements and produced a win. A win that caused the dawn of The New United States in the “real world” starting in November 2016. 
Attacks on immigrants in the “real world” like what occurred in El Paso would not occur in The Raffle Series because of their removal during The Great Expulsion. The Great Expulsion was the event in the Series where all non citizens were removed from the United States. It is also when certain Americans with ties to questionable regions of the world (namely the Middle East) were placed on “heightened scrutiny.” Does that really sound that crazy or like science fiction? Or is it just one step further than our current world today? Just today the Administration announced new penalties on legal non citizens. I’m telling you soon The Great Expulsion will be a reality.
With the gun debate inextricably connected with the last bastion of white supremacy in the United States, the immigrant question and fear of the other will always be included as side stories to the gun debate. And with all of those themes playing out in The Raffle Series, you cannot divorce the Series from the gun debate. Because we will always ask, are we already living in The New United States?

Robot Racism and Its Role In The Raffle Series

A recent story in The Atlantic about Ronald Reagan’s racist conversation with Richard Nixon in 1972 prompted this post. Racism and the fear of the other are one of the primary themes in The Raffle Series. In Part 1, the “virus” fractures Southern California into four battling and brutal “ethnic” enclaves. The multi-pronged attacks on SoCal lead to the United States becoming The New United States: a jingoistic, closed-border paranoid decentralized collection of “subsidiaries” hell-bent on security. Released to protect the NUS from any internal threats are the humanoid NHCs: robots created from synthetic stem cells that look, act and think like humans. But what kind of robots do humans actually prefer? It depends on if you are racist.

According to another recent story in CNN summarizing a New Zealand study, humans can be racist against robots and have a preference for white robots because there are just more “white” robots out there in films, television and otherwise. So, do we think this will be an issue in the future? As the lead researcher points out: “Imagine a world in which all Barbie dolls are white. Imagine a world in which all the robots working in Africa or India are white. Further imagine that these robots take over roles that involve authority. Clearly, this would raise concerns about imperialism and white supremacy.”

White supremacy? Robots? It’s like they read The Raffle Novel from my very mind before I published it. The study also gives hope in recommending “robot diversity,” making robots with darker tones more common than the standard “white” ones.

Though one question explored in Part 4, The Covenant, is can robots themselves be or became racists or supremacists? I personally believe if we are the ones creating and programming the robots, then the answer is yes. Because if good ‘ole Ronald Reagan was a racist and he remains revered in the United States, then our future will be more like The New United States.

UPDATE: Since the original publication of this Raffle Blog Post on August 2, 2019, there is a “real world update.” President Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, has asked the world to forgive her father’s racism. While we are real believers in forgiveness here at The Raffle, it seems to us that easily forgiving racism is hard to do when it is so pervasive and has had lasting negative impacts in our country. Especially in light of the horrific massacres this past weekend in El Paso and Dayton. BUT, we hope and believe President Reagan DID turn over a new leaf later in his life. This video where President Reagan spoke about the virtues of immigration and immigrants’ pride in being Americans has convinced us that he should indeed be forgiven. In the end, no human is perfect and it helps to recognize that fact.

The End and the Beginning Are Here

The big day is here. Part 4 of The Raffle Novel is now out in the “real world” putting flesh, muscle and insanity on the bones of the world of The New United States of The Raffle Series. But I’m not blogging about specifics of the exciting progression and “conclusion” of Ramsey’s journey just yet. 

This post is to recognize this day and everyone reading this first blog post and The Raffle Series. Without the encouragement of the fans of The Raffle Series, the “Rafflers” as I like to call you, I wouldn’t have made it across the finish line of this almost 5 year process. So thank you all. 

And if you are wondering about how the story came about it or who Randy Smith is, please read the Media Kit available in the “Press” link. Within it are 16 Questions answering several of your questions. 

Since The Raffle was first published in January 2016, I have been posting stories on the Raffle Facebook page from the “real world” that have parallels to the world of The Raffle Series. I will continue to do so there as well as on Twitter @theraffle2027 and Instagram @theraffle2027. But I will also be posting some of those stories with longer editorials on this blog. 

I hope you follow this blog and get deeper into the world of The Raffle. There is more insanity and fun to come so stay tuned, Rafflers.