The big story out of California is a possibly mortal blow struck against the gun-control movement as it exists today. Part of that story involves the assertion of dignity and independence by citizens who don’t think their inalienable right to keep and bear arms should be a crumb they beg off their political masters’ table. The Second Amendment is a powerful statement of citizen supremacy over the State: we have the right to defend ourselves, not place blind and helpless faith in the ability of the government to protect us, and yes indeedy, that means we will hold weapons that pose a serious obstacle to tyrannical ambition.
Naturally we all hope and pray it will never come to that, and indeed most of us have a hard time imagining such a horrible situation… but the Second Amendment was drafted by people with very clear memories of taking arms against their “lawful” rulers, and the point of citizen supremacy is important to maintain rhetorically. Let me put it this way: a healthy, lawful elected republic has absolutely no problem with citizens holding the means to effectively resist its power. A lawful and just political class has no problem cheerfully tipping its cap to that reality, and then on we go with the business of managing a vibrant republic filled with dignified sovereign citizens. It is rarely necessary to contemplate overthrowing a government that recognizes, and even celebrates, the people’s right to overthrow it. When everyone’s head occupies that philosophical space, everyone’s guns can remain safely tucked in their holsters.
But alas, our Ruling Class does not have its head in that space. The growth of the State inevitably, inescapably comes at the expense of citizen dignity. The Ruling Class has no reason to respect people it feeds, clothes, houses, micro-manages, and arbitrarily classifies as criminals when they resist the agenda of the great and powerful. You can be a sovereign citizen, or you can be the childlike client of a nanny state, but not both. Our Ruling Class is very good at persuading its clients not to see themselves that way, but you may rest comfortably assured they look at us that way. They are titans, wiser and more intelligent than any worker, investor, or captain of industry. Even the most sincerely well-meaning socialist begins with the defining assumption that people will not do “the right thing” unless they are compelled by force to act in a “socially responsible” manner.
Lately the public has been growing restless, as it dawns on even the less engaged voter that government growth comes only at the expense of a shrinking private sector, and it’s increasingly difficult for anyone involved on either side of the socialist transaction to pretend it’s compatible with the view of America’s proud citizens embodied in the Second Amendment. (Or, for that matter, the First Amendment.)
The Ruling Class increasingly indulges in the darkest fantasies about the incipient violence of unruly dissenters. We hear more and more stories about bureaucratic exercises that make the worst assumptions about opponents of Big Government. Media personalities who admire the Leviathan State love to compare contemporary critics of insolvent and arrogant government not to the Boston Tea Party revolutionaries they style themselves after, but to the losing side in the American Civil War. In both popular fiction and bureaucratic imagination, the terror threat never comes from the groups that have actually engaged in terrorist attacks, but from a surly domestic gang of government-haters who teeter forever on the edge of bloodshed. Every high-profile act of violence, from the Tucson shootings to the Boston Marathon bombings, is instantly ascribed to this mythical gang of right-wing malcontents, until the true identity of the perpetrators becomes impossible to ignore.
Fox News tells the story of a counter-terrorism exercise held by the Ohio National Guard, in which the Usual Suspects were once again trotted out to serve as punching bags:
The Guard???s 52nd Civil Support Team held a training drill last year in southern Ohio which pitted members against a sinister janitor and a chemistry teacher sidekick who concocted chemical weapons in two makeshift labs, unleashing them on middle school students before killing himself. Inside the lair of the creepy custodian, identified as ???Mr. Wart,??? agents found ???several statements about protecting Gun Rights and Second Amendment rights??? on a chalkboard as well as on tables, according to the training packet.
Fortunately, none of it actually happened. Critics say it is telling that a government group???s chosen bogeyman would be Second Amendment supporters.
???They were characterizing gun owners and Second Amendment supporters as white extremists,” Chad Baus, of the Buckeye Firearms Association, told FoxNews.com. “It was a month after Sandy Hook. There was a large debate where gun owners were being blamed. I think the timing of it was extremely important here.???
Naturally, everyone involved in designing and staging this exercise denied that it was a reflection of any political bias or institutionalized prejudice. But it’s funny how all of these stories – ranging from the controversial “right-wing terror threat assessment” by then-Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano early in the Obama years, to Defense Department presentations that classify Catholics and evangelicals as “extremists” of the same kidney as al-Qaeda and the Klan – lean in the same direction.
Meanwhile, an actual violent terrorist, Major Nidal Hasan, held Power Point demonstrations describing the rationale for the murders he would soon commit. One of the most direct and unambiguous incidents of domestic political terrorism in the past few years involved a left-wing extremist attacking the conservative Family Research Center. The shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins, was not at all reticent about describing his thwarted attack as a political statement.
As for violent insurrection against the government, who in America has grabbed bigger headlines than Christopher Dorner, whose politics the media became unanimously unwilling to discuss the instant his manifesto was discovered? A serious plot to conduct a large-scale organized political act of terror did indeed emanate from a mass protest movement not long ago, but it wasn’t the Tea Party or gun-rights crusaders.
Law-abiding people with strong political views, from either Left or Right, are not responsible for the actions of criminals or maniacs who happen to share their ideology, or appropriate for cover in a criminal endeavor. If the elusive Tea Party murderer finally does appear someday, fulfilling all those media fantasies at last, it would not be a blanket indictment of all Tea Party members… but you can bet your bottom dollar it will be portrayed as such. Official and media culture are kept perpetually on standby for the arrival of such a villain; they’ll erupt with over half a decade of pent-up energy on the day he or she finally turns up.
I suppose those who nurse these dark fantasies would say it makes sense that a domestic terrorist would harbor some intense anti-government ideology; would-be revolutionaries would drink deeply from the more extreme expressions of Second Amendment resistance to tyranny. But really, why isn’t it at least equally likely that someone would violently attack the government because he thinks it’s too small? Absolutist rhetoric denying the very humanity of dissenters is more commonly heard from Big Government enthusiasts of the Left; it’s even considered somewhat respectable, or at least something the media is willing to discreetly ignore. Generally speaking, who has the greater appetite for using force to impose their ideology in modern America, “liberals” or conservatives? And on the specific matter of gun rights, it seems to me that the vast majority of people who use firearms for nefarious purposes are not big fans of good citizens who exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
Update: Are any government agencies using radical environmentalists as their imaginary villains in these counter-terror exercises?