Tuesday, January 29, 2013
War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.
I’m assuming everyone in the country has now heard of people bringing guns to recent political events. Granted every pundit in the country has weighed in on this, but I’ve never let that stop me before. I’m not as excitable as some, guns sure do get people riled up. It’s not clear whether these peeps with guns are spontaneous or organized, or both possibly. So my comments are predicated on that basis.
There’s a few problems I have with this gun toting business. The first seems the most obvious to me. No matter what anyone says about this, bringing guns to a political event is not some neutral commentary. You don’t need a gun at a debate, so if you choose to bring one, this is clearly on some level meant to intimidate the other side of the debate. The right has gone from flag waving to gun waving? If this is a trend, it isn’t a good thing in my opinion.
The rationalization given for these firearm displays is a bit unnerving as well. They claim it’s about gun rights and the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. The problem I with that is pretty simple, this issue was settled last year. The Supreme court ruled that the Second Amendment most definitely means that individuals have the right to own and possess a gun. Gun laws across the country were struck down, and the rights of gun owners are more secure than they have ever been. So, why now are they feeling all threatened? With that in mind, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is intended as intimidation, not defence.
Lastly I’m a little concerned about the muted response to this. Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure if armed Black Panthers or immigrant’s rights groups or PETA members were showing up at events, the media and public response would be far less muted. In fact, some people would be going ape. Yet because it’s good-old-boys, the media seems to be handling it very gently. And the Secret Service, which zealously caged protesters in “Free Speech zones” during the Bush administration, isn’t even skipping a beat. Hmm.
In any event, it’s certain an odd development. I hope it’s not the wave of the future. The country is way too militarized and militant as it is in my opinion. And more importantly, people don’t brandish guns unless they are angry and confrontational. And sadly a lot of modern American politics seems to be angry and confrontational, with no room for debate or compromise.
Speaking of politics, I’m a little dismayed by the Obama scene at this point. So far his term has been characterized by a massive bailout for the rich, an escalation of the war and America’s military spending, and a wishy-washy health reform package that seems designed to fail in some ways. Not looking good. Not looking terribly liberal either. And I read an interesting article that pointed out that in Washington, it’s all about connections and calling in favours. And Obama has few, if any, of those in his quiver. So we may be seeing something akin to the Carter administration, where a relative newcomer to the scene finds all his initiatives paralysed by subtle lack of cooperation among the political elite in Washington. In this way the whole rancid corrupt structure defends itself from any input of new ideas, let alone reform. Maybe Obama genuinely wanted to change things in Washington, but it’s sure seeming to me that his options for real change are extremely constrained, and getting more so all the time.
Granted I’ve always maintained that the President of the USA was in some ways the least free person on the planet. Sure, he’s got seemingly unlimited power and prestige at his disposal. On the other hand, that is balanced by the fact that every single person on the planet is going to have expectations of him. And a lot of those people are very very powerful and spend a lot of time making sure that people live up to their expectations. Or else.
Which kinda gets us back to the beginning, we now have gun toting civilians showing up at presidential venues. And these folks are not there because they support the president, that at least seems clear. What happens when the expectations of a gun toting person are thwarted? Do I even want to know? If I was president Obama, maybe I’d be a little concerned about these guys. I’d be especially concerned about who was behind this, if in fact this is driven by people behind the scenes. And there was some evidence of that in the Arizona scene pictured above. Did a radio station arrange this simply for publicity, or was there another finger in the pie so to speak? And if there is a subtle unstated message from powerful interests with these gun-toters, is it aimed at the President, or the rest of us?
Fascism happens when the captains of industry and the extreme right in a country decide to work together, and I can’t help but wonder if a failed economy and a “liberal” president might be the catalysts that that finally makes fascism precipitate out of solution in America, so to speak. For the first time, I am actually a little scared. No need to flee yet, I think we’ve got a few more years to go before the FEMA camps start getting filled, but Amerika Über Alles could be happening. I’ll speculate more on these lines soon.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it’s arguably an historically important image, and in this universe and any conceivable alternate universe, its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Copyright: AP Photo. It’s a guy named Chris legally carrying an AR-15 rifle to a pro health care reform rally in Arizona. I’m not reassured when he was asked if he thought the “solution may be some sort of violent revolution,” … Chris said “I believe that may unfortunately have to be the way,” Sounds like a threat to me.)