January 18, 2013
Through Obama's forceful, smug insistence on taking action in defiance of Congress, along with the aggressive urging to do so from his sycophants in the progressive elite -- from the vice president and the senate majority leader on down -- the leftists are engaging in a game of chicken with the American spirit that is disturbing both for its immediate intentions and for its revelation of their thought process and game plan.
In light of the well-known fact that their proposals and trial balloons will be judged by millions of Americans to be an outright violation of constitutionally protected liberties -- and liberties of the most emotionally trenchant nature, namely those related to the very foundations of limited government -- the progressives' deliberate projection of haste and intransigence on gun control must not merely be taken at face value, and judged on its "merits." It must also be interpreted -- in other words, one must ask precisely what they are hoping to achieve by attacking the most deeply held principles of so many Americans in such a heavy-handed fashion.
It seems to me that there are two plausible interpretations of their open chastisement of "all this debate" over Second Amendment concerns, i.e., their boisterous spitting upon the U.S. Constitution.
The first option is that they believe the citizenry of the once-freest nation on earth will ultimately be first to flinch in this game of chicken, and back down. This is the simplest explanation. Having tested the waters on so many fronts, and prepared the population with generations of propaganda about the evils of guns (and so little clarity about the meaning of limited government) from the educational establishment and the media, the left may have determined that, for all the tough talk, American gun owners will not, in the end, have the nerve to stand firm against a federal order to produce their weapons for registration, to submit their guns and themselves to a federal tracking system, or even, eventually, to relinquish legally-purchased property that has newly been ruled illegal.
The second possibility is that they know the public has not been sufficiently softened up to begin the "peaceful" disarming of America suggested by option one, and are therefore hoping to precipitate the kind of "serious crisis" the Obama administration has vowed never to let go to waste. This second possibility is appearing more likely to be the administration's real intention each day.
Consider the extent to which the federal government has gone, during the past four years, to brand conservatives, Christians, defenders of the Constitution, gun owners, and in general believers in property rights, as not merely racist and stupid (the usual mantra), but rather as angry, "bitter," and positively unhinged. These are not mere insinuations; government representatives, spokesmen, and apologists have been saying such things with increasing directness and frequency since 2008. A "study" funded by DHS expressly lists people who are "reverent of individual liberty" or "suspicious of centralized federal authority," among the common potential terror threats (p. 9). Obama himself, during his 2008 campaign, suggested in no uncertain terms that "clinging" to a Bible and/or a gun -- i.e., believing in God or the right to bear arms -- is a clear symptom of serious psychological problems, and equivalent to racism. And of course almost every mass killing over the past couple of years has been blamed on the Tea Party by someone in the media (see here) -- until, inevitably, the facts prove otherwise -- thereby creating the general impression that the Tea Party is a natural repository of "people on the edge," regardless of whether they turn out to have committed any crimes.
The Obama team knows full well that its words and actions are causing fear, anger, and heightened vigilance among conservatives. The spikes in gun sales, NRA memberships, and harsh anti-government talk all over the internet are an unmistakable sign of a population preparing for -- for something ugly. And yet they push forward, threatening specific action and escalating the anti-gun rhetoric with each passing day.
And the prodding is clever. Prior to this direct assault on the right to bear arms, the single Obama program most hated by constitutionalists was the Affordable Care Act. Now, ingeniously, the left has found a way to bring these two great affronts to individual liberty together under one umbrella. A major focus of Obama's executive actions on gun violence is the promotion of ObamaCare's mental health provisions as a suitable mechanism for dealing with preemptive psychiatry, i.e., drugging wayward children, labeling people in their federal government records as mentally ill, and using doctors as informants to track guns in private homes.
In sum, they could not be stoking pre-revolutionary fever any more effectively among that minority of America's citizenry that still stands by the nation as an idea, rather than merely as a piece of geography, if they had planned to stoke it. The only question remaining, it seems, is where all of this will lead.
Consider the following possibility -- common sense dictates that the progressives have already considered it. Someday, federal officers are going to visit the home of a man who owns a so-called "assault-style weapon." He has a family and a job. He pays his taxes. He has no criminal record. Not even a parking ticket. He purchased his gun legally. He uses it for target shooting. He thinks of it as an investment in the protection of his family and his nation, and his personal stand for constitutional liberty.
The federal officers are going to tell him that his weapon has been banned, that the deadline has passed for him to turn it in at the local police station, and that he must turn it over immediately. He is going to refuse, on the reasonable principle that a man is not obliged to obey a law that fundamentally violates his constitutionally protected rights. The officers, who will have been trained to regard such "resisters" as hostile and as mentally unstable, will call in for back-up and then give this law-abiding patriot an ultimatum: produce your banned weapon peacefully at once, or be taken into custody on charges of illegal possession of a firearm, and possibly subjected to psychiatric assessment.
If this man gives in and hands the officers his weapon, he will feel for the rest of his life that he has been broken -- that when push came to shove, he did not have the courage to stand up for his children's future. This, in short, is how the federal officials who sent the officers to his door want him to feel, and how they want everyone to feel: weak, ineffectual, emasculated, and submissive. It is how they want you to feel when federal agents molest your wife at the airport, and photograph your pubescent daughter in a naked scanner. It is how they want you to feel about your "private" health records being permanently on file with a half dozen federal agencies, to be opened at their discretion. It is how they want you to feel about the thousand bank-breaking regulations you are obliged to comb through and comply with in the names of "sustainability," "social justice," "anti-discrimination," and a dozen other fronts in the war on self-governance.
These indignities are meant to ease you through the process of acceptance, of acquiescence, of relinquishing all pretences of inviolable principle in the name of getting along.
This scenario -- this Conrad-style moment of reckoning for a man, before himself, his wife, and his children -- will in fact likely be played out in many variations. Those officers might be coming for high-capacity magazines, for guns reported by a child's playmate as unsafely stored, guns reported as unregistered, guns owned by people with relatives who have been diagnosed as "depressed" by a doctor, and so on. Most of the property owners in question will likely give in to the government's demands, and many of them will do so willingly, believing it their duty to obey the law above all else.
Those who do not comply, on the other hand, will be a test case, at the very least. When the government is challenging a proud man's dignity, his natural rights, and his courage in the face of a tyrannical demand, they are daring him to become a martyr to his cause. (See Mark Alexander's declaration at The Patriot Post.) In the authoritarian's mind, government wins either way. If the man gives in, subservience is reinforced. If he does not, then he can be made an example of, to serve as a stern warning to others.
This is not a moment to be taken lightly. Nor is it one to be welcomed with excessive "bring it on" bravado. America, which is emulating the rest of the West's decline, but at double-speed in these final stages, has reached the saddest impasse. Unlike other nations, which have passively sold off their freedom for the false security of a smiling, cradle to grave despotism, America has seen it coming, has resisted it with force, and is now about to be dragged off the cliff kicking and screaming.
The challenge facing the men of America -- not the mere "males," but the men -- is becoming clearer, starker, and more essential every day. That minority of us in the rest of the world who still care about freedom and modern civilization can only watch, with concern, sadness and hope, as the U.S. federal government, having reached its moment of final metamorphosis -- its "fundamental transformation" -- stares its patriotic citizens in the eye and says, "I dare you."
From the land of rebellious individualism of intellect - the land of Madison, Jefferson, Emerson and Melville; to the land of an almost careless abandonment to joy -- the land of Astaire, Ellington, Gershwin and Singin' In the Rain; to the brink of sorrow and downtroddenness, in such a short time, historically speaking. Surely it's too soon for this glorious run to end.