What do you do when your belief system has been rejected, after you were told for generations that those who objected to it were illegitimate? (Picture from Firedoglake.)
What do you do when people you respect say that there is nothing to be done now but take up arms to defend your rights and your lifestyle, or public officials you trust tell you to be armed and dangerous?
We saw what happens once before. War happened, in 10,000 places, a conflict that transformed us from united States to the United States.
For the generations which followed the result of final defeat was not quite so violent. Populists melted back into the Democratic Party. Progressives melted back into the Republican Party. Hippies grew up. There were a few fringe elements, a few incidents, but generally civil peace was kept, and the country moved forward.
Will that happen this time? The evidence so far:
- 5.5 million background checks on new buyers of firearms since November.
- A heavily-armed gunman in Alabama who lived with his mother killed 10 using two military assault rifles, a handgun and a shotgun.
- A man in North Carolina shot up a nursing home where his estranged wife worked, leaving 7 dead.
- 14 died in Binghampton, New York when a right-wing fanatic opened fire on an immigration center. His parents had been immigrants.
- Three cops were killed by a heavily-armed right-wing fanatic in Pittsburgh, their bodies bled out because he also had body armor.
Maybe the words of the leaders are just talk. Maybe these are just isolated incidents.
Or maybe it's the start of something larger.
In The Eliminationists, David Niewert argues that it is something larger, the start of a twilight struggle that will leave many of us dead, and will force startling changes in American society, before it is put down.
Last month, I wrote here that opposition to the Obama Thesis of Consensus will result in an enormous amount of bloodshed. I suggested that the tools of the Patriot Act, which conservatives supported and liberals opposed when the target was Muslim extremists, will be needed to put this extremism down.
Digby shares this fear. More important she identifies the issue which, like slavery during that last struggle, lies at the heart of the matter:
Digby also suggests that these people have a cause, a coherent worldview, a dream to overturn the government, to dismantle its programs, to do to President Obama what Germans did to their own leaders during the last Depression. Is the cause of an American Reich any crazier than that of a Confederacy devoted to black slavery?
This is the way the Civil War began as well. It began as a struggle for Union, not a struggle to end slavery. And it began slowly, the cause rising over many years and many incidents. It only became something larger as the toll of war mounted. Abolitionists who in 1860 were seen as an extremist fringe — the Republican Presidential candidate explicitly rejecting them — were by 1864 the political mainstream.
And their goals were met. The Constitution was changed, transformed really, guaranteeing not just an end to slavery but equal protection under the law, in theory, for every American.
It is very possible that, before the black terror of our own time is put down, extremists such as Cent Uygur, and me, people who demand gun control as part of the civil peace, will become the mainstream, even if the Constitution must be amended to accommodate us.
Something to watch for as the body count rises.