Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller is Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, coeditor of
It Came Upon You in the Night
This chapter presents a history of American interracial violence to illustrate how law and vigilantism enable white people's rights to bear arms, while concomitantly disarming Black people. The chapter shows how the persistent duty of disarmament, identified as one of the main functions and meanings of the militia, has frequently operated at night when Black people have asserted freedom of movement and have thus been identified as dangerous to white interests. The militia is a core republican concern, but the chapter argues that the influential political philosophy of republicanism lacks a theory of the night that could account for this nocturnal politics, which has historically allowed violence to persist without adequate critique. The chapter links the history of controlling the movement of Black people at night and their access to arms to contemporary police and vigilante killings of Black people, showing that these have a previously overlooked temporal dimension.