Sunday, May 31, 2009

Something Is STILL The Matter With Kansas ... And Maybe Everywhere Else

Well, despite my best intentions, it's been over a month since I've posted anything. That's partly about life getting in the way of blogging (to paraphrase Michael Crichton's words in "Jurassic Park," life will find a way to do that). But it's also about the fact that I've been wrestling with a topic that has reared its very ugly head in a number of ways since Barack Obama replaced Howdy Doody in the White House: right-wing violence.

As a political force, the far right wing-nuts in this country are at their lowest ebb. If they were Democrats, they would no doubt be forming a circular firing squad, aiming at themselves. But, lately, I've been getting the impression that conservatives, and their political allies in the Republican Party, have been forming a circular firing squad of their own. Unfortunately, theirs is aimed at everyone else. This reflects the competing character flaws in both of our major political parties. Democrats, political nebbishes that most of them are, are always on the lookout for new and more exciting ways to flagelate themselves for their failures. On the other hand, Republicans, who long ago reduced the question of "character" to keeping one's fly up, are always on the lookout for ways to bamboozle the rest of us to handing them power.

At least the Democrats, when they lose, are content to play by the rules and let democracy win. But, when the party of Lincoln runs out of ways to fool all of the people all of the time (thankfully, it periodically happens), it isn't content to let the proverbial chips fall where they may. They prefer to hurl the chips--and any other non-verbal weapons that they can find--at the people who have peaceably lifted the burden of government from their government-hating shoulders.

In this context, I recall the efforts by some wing-nut commentators to justify the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal court house by citing the anger many of their devoted followers felt about the 1993 destruction of the Branch Davidian religious compound, allegedly by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (never mind the facts that the fanatics burned their own compound, and that the ATF troops moved in solely based to prevent alleged child abuse). I have heard echoes of those arguments in some of the rhetoric of the past six months that has masqueraded as political commentary from such distinguished sources as Glenn Beck and Chuck Norris. As a consequence, I have spent much of the past month wrestling with this rhetoric and the proper response to it. I have wanted to hold back, out of respect for democracy and the freedom to disagree, even to the point of being disagreeable.

But, ultimately, I have been propelled forward by today's tragedy in Kansas. This sick, perverted, disgusting incident makes me question whether it is even possible to co-exist in a democratic society with a movement that treats "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as a slogan--or, even worse, as a club to brandish against the 99 percent of reality that frightens them so much.

This much I'll say for now, and I may have more to say about it later. As our wing-nut bretheren and sisteren are fond of reminding us, the Second Amendment is a civil right. I'm here today to recommend that all of my friends on the left exercise it. Buy a gun. Learn how to use it. You may need it to defend freedom--and yourselves. I'm not advocating lawlessness, and I'm not advocating murder. The law allows you to fight fire with fire. Democracy certainly allows a level playing field. And trust me on this: if there's one thing the wing-nuts REALLY hate, it's a level playing field.

Especially a well-armed one.