Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Right's Frightening Cult of the Second Amendment

There are many things that are frightening about today's GOP base: religious extremists, open white supremacists and racists, raging homophobes, male chauvinists, the celebratory embrace of ignorance, etc.  But perhaps one of the most frighten aspects is the far right's love affair with guns and willingness to use violence against those deemed "other" - hence the growing number of murders of unarmed black males by police.  Tied to this mindset is a growing belief that if their views are threatened, then an armed response is warranted.  To justify this insanity, the meaning of the Second Amendment has been perverted and claims are now widely made that the Founding Fathers wanted arm revolution to be an option against the very form of government they labored so hard to create. It is, of course, total batshitery.  But then, so id much of what now passes for thought and intelligent discourse among the slobbering, spittle flecked masses of the GOP base.  A piece in Talking Points Memo looks at this disturbing development.  Here are excerpts:
[T]o a remarkable extent, the default position of conservatives has less and less to do with arguments about the efficacy of gun regulation or the need for guns to deter or respond to crime. Instead, it’s based on the idea that the main purpose of the Second Amendment is to keep open the possibility of revolutionary violence against the U.S. government. 

This was once an exotic, minority view even among gun enthusiasts who tended to view the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right to gun ownership not to overthrow the government but to supplement the government’s use of lethal force against criminals. Treating the Second Amendment as an integral legacy of the American Revolution appealed to gun rights advocates who sought firm ground against regulations with no possibility of compromise.

But more importantly, it gave a dangerous edge to the claims of conservative extremists—who recently began calling themselves “constitutional conservatives”—that their ideology of absolute property rights, religious rights and even fetal rights had been permanently established by the Founders who added in the Second Amendment to ensure any trespassing on their “design” by “tyrants” or popular majorities could and should be resisted. 

Nowadays this revolutionary rationale for gun rights is becoming the rule rather than the exception for conservative politicians and advocates.

Perhaps the most surprising statement on this subject from a Republican presidential candidate was by a rare figure who dissents from the right-to-revolution talk, per this report from Sahil Kapur at TPM a few months ago:
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz's argument that the Second Amendment provides the "ultimate check against government tyranny" is a bit too extreme for potential 2016 rival and fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
"Well, we tried that once in South Carolina. I wouldn't go down that road again," Graham said, in an apparent reference to the Civil War. "I think an informed electorate is probably a better check than, you know, guns in the streets."
Graham joked about this, but liberals generally are not amused by the suggestion that “patriotic” Americans should be stockpiling guns in case “they”—it’s not clear who, of course—decide it’s time to start shooting police officers and members of the armed forces in defense of their liberties, which in some cases are perceived to be extremely broad. Indeed, a lot of Second Amendment ultras appear to think the right to revolution is entirely up to the individual revolutionary. Here’s Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, the darling of the GOP Class of 2014, talking about this contingency in 2012:
I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere...But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.
You can wonder, as I often do, how people like Ernst would react to such rhetoric if it were coming from a member of a black nationalist or Islamist group. But clearly, there’s no point in progressives seeking any “compromise” with them on gun issues. They can only be defeated by a true mass social movement supporting reasonable gun regulation. But it’s important to understand that according to the Cult of the Second Amendment, opponents of gun measures have every right to fire back, literally.

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