Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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.


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?