My Facebook and Twitter pages have been skewed to the gun debate since the New Town Sandy Hook shooting.
The reason it’s still going on is because this discussion has uncovered something that has to be dealt with.
Before I was born my father encountered some people he called “birchers” who were in fact members of the John Birch Society, a very small number of people who mirrored today’s tea party. They had a fantasy of threats and fear that did not match reality, but they had no interest in knowing if the hypotheses that they were embracing had any possible truths to them. They were like an ancient tribe or a very fundamentalist religion. They were passionately attached to believing an impossible story that helped define them.
With the spread of the internet, these ideas spread without any rebuttal.
Without anyone to fact check and discuss history, people like you and me got some funny ideas in our heads.
One idea that the birchers spread, which is easily disproved, is that the 2nd Amendment was written to make sure Americans could shoot at their own government if it became displeasing to those with the guns.
I actually accepted the concept to a certain degree until I looked into it.
The point of the 2nd Amendment was to keep from having a permanent army, because everywhere else in the world, the biggest danger to a nation was a military coup. That’s what the framers of the constitution saw happening in Europe. They felt if they could spread out trained warriors within their own states, they could be easily called up to fight a foreign enemy. As armed and ready as we would be to fight a foreign power or put down rebellion in our own midst, we would be able to stave off the temptation to have permanent oppressive power.
James Madison said: “In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”
Someone can argue that our pentagon, CIA and black ops give a president too much power now. I am inclined to agree. Luckily one party stands in relative opposition to too much military power. But this is not the libertarian-esque fantasy that the government is going to shut down democracy and take everyone’s guns then enslave them in a totalitarian state.
What a scary thought!
There will always be a percentage of people in any society that fear this.. almost obsessively.
The problem that I am noticing is that some of these myths, these thoughts that poison a free society, are spreading among people who would not normally be obsessing on them. That’s why my page has loaded up with the ideas and statements that they have… it’s sort of like using a chemical to break up lime and rust on your shower when it’s building up too much. To some of my readers, it’s getting a bit repetitive, and I agree. I have needed to repeat myself a lot in my “discussions” with people who should know better.
They should know that:
• Though right wingers who suppress unions and civil liberties and rights slow down our democratic process, by simply increasing the number of people involved with getting them out of power the problem is solved. Simply organizing and canvasing and discussing and working together you stave off abuses of power. Look at Wisconsin from 2 years back. They are in much better shape now than they were before the movement started.
• Guns pointed at your own government give power to the worst authoritarians and autocrats. Think about it, if you band together and shoot at a powerful military, they’ll shoot back and win… and then having a taste for shooting you, see you as an enemy. That’s when you see nations get a sunglass-wearing fat general who “keeps people safe” from insurrection to his closing fist. By embracing democracy rather than guns, you make it far less likely that we will ever lose our power as people to direct our destiny.
• The people who believe in “evil government” are the most destructive to the freedom and well being of the average American. Ronald Reagan, who famously said, “government is the problem” – and the 1980s movies that all blamed the system and elevated the “Rambo” type, signaled a return to a gilded age. What was the gilded age? The period in US History (running from 1877 to 1893) where the few with the biggest stashes of hoarded money. The rich then as today argued that the economy was growing. What they never talked about was how it was only growing for the top 1% or less. The rest of America was being drained and was suffering. The corporate leaders, many of whom could be diagnosed with antisocial disorder (sociopathology), would shout about the evils of government and how lazy and evil people were who expected to get something back for their tax dollars.
• Your fear of poverty that these people cause, of injustice caused by graft and corruption, your fear of poor people taking your livelihood away, or perhaps repaying you for the sins of your ancestors, your fear of the loss of the value of your work and savings requires that you look UP. Look up at the few who are manipulating you and keeping you from exercising your power as a citizen and a worker. Your media will always tempt you to look down. You will look at poor people, dark skinned people, people who don’t speak the language as well as you think you do. You will even look down at your government who is you. Yes, the government is you. That’s what this nation was created to demonstrate. You will attack your own power… because you are understandably scared and diabolically manipulated by the media.
• The echo chamber on the internet. Staying on pages, blogs and sites where everyone agrees with you is the new danger. If you keep accepting unproven, unsubstantiated and UNTRUE thoughts because they “get you high” on fear, you are heading down a dangerous rabbit hole. It’s ironic that the tool for the greatest knowledge can also spread the greatest ignorance.
The gun argument is a wild ride when you are discussing things in comment sections.
No matter how clearly you show people the Whiskey Rebellion, you can’t get them to see that the government took on rebels who didn’t want to pay their taxes, and that the militia was to take on “the people” who were not patient enough to fix the situation politically. They would have been able to solve their disputes had they not pulled out the guns… history also shows that. Read the Wiki on the Whiskey Rebellion and it will open your eyes, if you didn’t know that.
No matter how clearly you show people the Militia Acts, you can’t get them to see how heavily regulated they are. The guns are regulated, the chain of command is regulated. You can’t get them to see that their fantasy about a gun battle with the “evil government” would be a messy insurrection with no clear chain of command and deaths that would all be unnecessary.
You also can’t get them to see that the insurrection is the domestic enemy our constitution names.
Because they are an enemy if they are too impatient to participate in democracy. And it is their fear that pushes their impatience… and let’s be honest. Most of them are not going to get themselves involved in a modern WACO. They don’t have enough rage to be that stupid.
My former friends are screaming at me that their beliefs MUST BE TRUE, because websites support them and because they have been living in an echo chamber that repeats the falsehoods. It doesn’t matter what facts you show them, they want “concessions” in the argument.
¿Oh, I’m sorry, you’re right, Baseball bats kill more people than guns do in America¿
WTF? I don’t care how many websites and spokes dorks say that, it’s just not true.
They have some fantasies that they don’t want challenged. I get it, it feels good.
I still have some unproven fantasies about the JFK and MLK murders… I don’t claim that they are true because people suspect things…
But the discussion was getting so stupid… about terms like “assault” or “magazine” or “clip” or “military style”… just avoiding the main point:
The government in our democracy is not an evil dangerous “them”… it is us. It is the only thing that can stand up to all the REAL THREATS to our freedom. Those threats are threats in every society: An out of control military, consolidated wealth taking away the pubic’s rights to democracy, and most significantly a big lie that creates a religious type fervor unifying a population behind a dictator and against their own (messy) freedom. That is what we have now. We have emotions so strong that people can’t think about what might really be true.
My job as I see it is to repeat what is true and break up some of that soap scum and lime scale. My job is to keep posting a defense of democracy against corporatism and it’s attendant totalitarian urges. My job is to shine a light on nonsense ideas that are manipulating people who should know better.
link to this page: