Skip to main content

Ed Kilgore on 'Second Amendment Theology'

But there is one habit of conservative rhetoric that is relevant to the events in Tucson, and it would be helpful to single it out for condemnation instead of indulging in broad discussions about the “climate of hate.” It’s the suggestion that Americans have an inherent “right of revolution” which entitles them to deploy violence when they are convinced that government officials are trammeling on their liberties, and that we are at a stage of history where such fears are legitimate.

This is the nasty underlying implication of Sharron Angle’s remark last year that “Second Amendment remedies” might be necessary to deal with policies supported by her Senate opponent, Harry Reid. And it’s been the subtext of many years of conservative rhetoric about how the Second Amendment is the crown jewel of the Constitution because it ensures a heavily armed citizenry that can take matters into its own hands if government goes too far. In combination with Tea Party militants’ open assertions that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and marginal increases in the marginal tax rate represent an intolerable tyranny, reminiscent of the British oppression that made the American Revolution necessary, this belief that Americans should be stockpiling weapons in case they have to stop voting against government officials and start shooting them is extremely dangerous.

This is part of what I was trying to get at with my first post the other day. I don't get my panties in a wad because anybody uses a metaphor, and I *try* not to get upset at an entire movement because fringe nutjobs show up at rallies with provocative signs. (Although I've been guilty of making that generalization: Apologies.) But it does seem to me that there's an ideology on the right that embraces talk of armed revolution in the face of overreaching government -- idle talk, perhaps, but not metaphorical.

That doesn't mean Jared Loughner can be blamed on the right. He can't. Guy was crazy, and crazy does what crazy does.

But like I said Sunday: Some of us on the left take that kind of talk seriously. And when violence actually happens -- even if it turns out to not be related -- we'll be looking pretty closely for tie-ins as a result. I think lots of liberal commenters overstepped in making the tie-in here, but I understand why it happened.

Comments

KhabaLox said…
I think one key concept that is missing from the Tea Party argument is that of "Taxation without Representation." Kilgore hints at it with "the British oppression that made the American Revolution necessary." The American Revolution was necessary not because the crown was levying unfair taxes, but because the Colonies had no political remedy to those (and other) abuses. The Tea Party has a political remedy, which they successfully exercised last November.
Monkey RobbL said…
K: I think if you read the list of abuses in the Declaration, you'll see that it was about a lot more than taxation without representation. Narrowing the American Revolution to being a war about taxes without political remedies is a deep misrepresentation of that conflict.

Joel: I'd (sincerely, not flippantly) like to understand if you don't believe in the right of armed revolution, or if you simply disagree about the threshold beyond which the exercise of that right is justified. If the latter, then do you think the American Revolution met that threshold? Or are you more inclined (as I am) to look at the American Revolution as a secession than an overthrow of tyranny?

Popular posts from this blog

Yoga

I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Interesting:
Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…