…when you scream “HITLER!” every time something doesn’t go your way, you wind up having people making making fun of your rhetoric:
When I post things like this, I always get feedback from readers who assure me they can see through my “agenda” which is, as I am informed, something along the lines of abolishing the second amendment, confiscating everybody’s guns and all that. I myself have no idea what my agenda is and certainly no worked out goal. But one of the things I have discovered since wandering into this argument after Sandy Hook, it has quickly become obvious to me that camps are so hardened and sensitized that all you have to do is clear your throat or say, “Wait a minute, that thing you said doesn’t make sense” and you are instantly pegged as a “gun nut” or a Nazi bent on confiscation of guns. Here’s reality: at present “what I want” is very unformed in my mind. “No more Sandy Hooks” is one. Something less than 10,000 gun murders each year” is another. Somewhere in there is “Stop with crappy arguments”. At present, I am struck by the number of crappy arguments the gun lobby uses and am trying to parse them–slowly. Why am I picking on gun lobby arguments? Easy. Because they are the ones arguing to preserve the status quo: a status quo in which the actuarial calculation states that we have to be willing to put up with more Sandy Hooks and 10,000 gun murders a year. I reject that calculation and therefore think the status quo–and therefore gun lobby arguments–need to be examined.
Lots of pro-gun folk seem to think *they* know what I want (confiscation, an America prostrate before Leviathan and Home Invaders and Rapists, etc.). But I’m pretty sure that’s not what I want. All I want, at present, is to stop having the repeated sensation of hearing gun lobby arguments and thinking “Wait! This argument is crap!”. So, from “Obama is Hitler” to “They’re going to take away our guns” to the other rhetoric that Stewart quotes in the desperate scramble to maintain the status quo at all costs, what has consistently impressed me is how unimpressive the arguments are–because of the fear that drives them. The fear is simple: it is the deep conviction that America is ruled by an implacable enemy that means to destroy us. The cognitive dissonance between this and “America: the Light and the Glory” that also animates the thinking of many conservatives is one of the mysteries I don’t fully fathom. But there it is. It’s a theme that goes right back to the founding, of course, a patriotic people who create a government based on the idea that the government cannot be trusted. In short, a state created in the full conviction that the doctrine of original sin is undeniable fact. I empathize with that a lot.
However, I also empathize with reality a lot. And the reality is that, though the state has undoubtedly taken measures that are tyrannical (often with the enthusiastic support of the Thing that Used to be Conservatism) it is not the case that Obama is just about to usher in Nazi tyranny, and it is not the case the the modest measures he proposes in response to the straw the broke the camel’s back at Sandy Hook are “confiscation” or even much of a challenge to the status quo. So the hysteria just sounds like more boys crying wolf. That concerns me, because I do think the day could well come when there’s real wolf and people will not be able to tell if he’s there because the rhetoric from the Thing That Used to Be Conservatism has been so shrill for so long that nobody listens anymore. As I mentioned recently, I have a friend who is a prolife Catholic Democrat who prays earnestly for the Right to make a recovery, because he knows that Left needs a healthy check on its own capacity for monstrous sin and currently has very little standing in its way because the Right has lost its mind. I share his fear.
I also share his fear of the lunatics who are simultaneously declaring that we need to have our guns in order to “defend ourselves from tyrants” and insisting that secession is something we need to be thinking over–all while trying to pretend they are envisioning a *peaceful* secession that won’t be a civil war or a bloodbath or anything, but we really need our guns for it. Sell that crazy somewhere else.