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April 25, 2015

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Revolutionary language and the fear of tyrants

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Listen closely.

That sound you hear is the sound of a cultural paranoia by people who have lost their grip on the reins of power, and on reality, and who fear the worst is coming.

And they are preparing for it, whatever it may be — a war, a revolution, an apocalypse.

These extremists make sensible, reasonable gun control hard to discuss, let alone achieve in this country, because they skew the conversations away from common-sense solutions on which both rational gun owners and non-gun owners can agree.

These people, a vocal minority, have extreme fears — gun confiscation, widespread civil instability, a tyrannical government — from which they are preparing to defend themselves with arsenals of weapons and stockpiles of ammunition.

If you pay attention to the right-wing’s rhetoric, you can hear a string of code words that feed the fears of these people and paralyze progress.

A collection of conservative groups have declared Jan. 19, the weekend celebrating President Barack Obama’s inauguration and Martin Luther King’s Birthday, as Gun Appreciation Day.

In a press release, event chairman Larry Ward said, “The Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people.”

Using the word “dictates” is a subtle, but intentional, effort to frame the president as dangerous.

Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News analyst, said in a video posted Thursday on the network’s GretaWire blog: “Here’s the dirty little secret about the Second Amendment: The Second Amendment was not written in order to protect your right to shoot deer. It was written to protect your right to shoot tyrants if they take over the government. How about chewing on that one?”

He went even further in a piece in the Washington Times, saying that the Second Amendment “protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.”

Who are Napolitano’s tyrants here? Is this government takeover theoretical, imminent, in progress or a fait accompli?

Ward went so far as to say on CNN: “I believe that Gun Appreciation Day honors the legacy of Dr. King. ... The truth is, I think Martin Luther King would agree with me if he were alive today that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from Day One of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history. And I believe wholeheartedly that it’s essential to liberty.”

Set aside, if you can, what would most likely be King’s horror at the association and look at that language. Pay particular attention to the suggestion that guns are an essential guard against slavery’s resurgence in this country. And who would be the slaves and who the enslavers?

As the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a spring 2012 report, there has been a surging number of patriot groups since 2008 when Barack Obama was first elected president.

“The swelling of the Patriot movement since that time has been astounding. From 149 groups in 2008, the number of Patriot organizations skyrocketed to 512 in 2009, shot up again in 2010 to 824, and then, last year, jumped to 1,274.”

According to the center, “Generally, patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the ‘New World Order,’ engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines.”

The center also points out: “Fears of impending gun control or weapons confiscations, either by the government or international agencies, also run rampant in antigovernment circles. As a result, many antigovernment activists believe that being well armed is a must. The militia movement engages in paramilitary training aimed at protecting citizens from this feared impending government crackdown.”

That’s why it is both shocking and predictable that James Yeager, the CEO of a Tennessee company that trains civilians in weapons and tactical skills, posted a video online (since removed but still viewable at saying he was going to start killing people if gun control efforts moved forward. He said, and I quote:

“I’m telling you that if that happens, it’s going to spark a civil war, and I’ll be glad to fire the first shot. I’m not putting up with it. You shouldn’t put up with it. And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you’re going to do, load your damn mags, make sure your rifle’s clean, pack a backpack with some food in it and get ready to fight.”

Again, calling the “patriots” to arms is, I think, no accident.

Chew on that.

Charles M. Blow writes for The New York Times.

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  1. Armed people with extreme paranoid tendencies and motivated by delusions of being self-described patriots should not be taken lightly. Those assuming that the chaos in their own lives is also being experienced in society as a whole represent a very real threat to that society.

  2. The Sons of Freedom took up arms against the King of England and his mercenaries. They shed their blood for the right to do so. Thanks to them, we have the country we have today with the Constitution governing it.


  3. I'm curious why the Southern Poverty Law Center considers itself qualified to decide that these conspiracy theories are groundless. Personally, I never thought I'd ever entertain conspiracy theories, but with the reductions of personal liberties resulting from the Patriot Act and the NDAA, and the movement towards drones monitoring American soil, I'm starting to wonder. The spike in the number of organized groups is an indicator of growing distrust, but more worrisome to me is growing number of people I come into contact with, who are not associated with any of these groups, but who have little or no confidence in our government.

  4. Here's the government induced death bodycount. Looks like the running total exterminated by government since 1918 is about 150,000,000. That's enough evidence for me to support the Second Amendment.

  5. Ignorant and dishonest progressives determined to ruin America should not be taken lightly. The chaos they create and the violence they foment is a very real threat to society and liberty.

  6. The Preamble to the Constitution clearly states the fundamental purposes and guiding principles of the Constitution. In it are the words "in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    Andrew Napolitano exudes nonsense and derangement. The 2nd Amendment does not allow taking up arms against the Government because that action violates domestic Tranquility. Taking up arms to defend liberties is the equivalent of using weapons to override voting and this is a Revolution. Those who attempt this will soon be in the gun sights of others.

    The 2nd Amendment never allowed personal armories or the stockpiling of ammunition intended for defense against the Government. Justice is only established through a legal system, not a running gun battle through malls, theaters and classrooms.