I've gotten a lot of questions for what the deal is with my twitter personality. The truth is, it's just a little illustrator doodle I did a couple of years ago. This guy:
this photo by Woqooyi Galbeed of a Somali man. I just changed some colors and made his skin color a bit more pan-swarthy.
And I deleted the gun from the image, making it just the cut-out image of a gun for a reason. But it turns out the reason got lost under the ability to go, "oooh! Gun!"
Fortunately, C.J. Chivers is writing a book about, well, The Gun. He's a fantastic writer, of course, and he gave an interview with Foreign Policy recently that did a great job of explaining why I kept the cut-out of the gun, and not the gun itself.
And in that interview, he explained the symbolism of the AK-47:
As the rifles have moved about the world, they have been appropriated by all manner of combatants to have all manner of meanings. The rifle's evolving iconography is a fascinating subject because it shows how both governments and combatants view themselves...This is a rich and rewarding line of reporting. In it is a pantheon of modern war. Saddam Hussein handed out rifles that were plated in gold; they were strongman party favors. Bin Laden has made a point of being photographed with the version of the rifle carried by Soviet helicopter crews in the 1980s, a clear case of the rifle, almost like a scalp, signifying martial cred. (In this case, he might be trying a little too hard, because there is no credible evidence I know of that he was ever involved in downing a Soviet helicopter.) We'll see more of this. To governments and combatants alike, symbols matter, and the Kalashnikov can be assigned an almost infinite array of meanings.That was a huge quote, ok. But the gist is: it's not a gun, its a symbol. And what i was trying to get at with the illustration was that it's ok to get rid of the gun and keep the symbol. Let the symbol of revolution ride (albeit, in my case, a bit sarcastically) without the gun. It's a bit hokey and pie-in-the-sky, yeah. But I enjoyed the way it was executed, so I kept with it.
And I'd love to say that the Urdu writing is because of this guy or something, but truth be told, it was just that I was learning Urdu at the time and thought that it would be cool. So it translates as "This is your revolution," meaning that the operative "you" should replace the gun with, well, whatever you want to be revolutionary about.
So basically, it's one of those half-serious, half-revolutionary things that 21-year-olds are wont to do. And yeah, I just think it looks really cool, so I kept it. I can't take myself seriously enough to think that its actually a serious, through-provoking, move towards freeing our minds, man. I just think it's cool. Hopefully you do, too.