When we go from this
To parading this
People who are stupid enough to believe “freedumb” are stupid enough to let the state tell them how they’re going to exist.
When we go from this
To parading this
People who are stupid enough to believe “freedumb” are stupid enough to let the state tell them how they’re going to exist.
The need to control others may not make a lot of sense to you. If you’re a live-and-let-live person, you’d never want to control someone else. Even if you’re a perfectionist, you stay on your own case all day, not necessarily someone else’s.
But controllers are out there. They want to micromanage what you say, how you act, even what you think quietly in your own mind. It could be your boss, your spouse, or even your parent. You can’t be yourself around them. They insist on being your top priority and want undue influence over your life. They might push your buttons to get an emotional reaction out of you because they want to exploit it as weakness. They have no respect for you or your boundaries.
There are plenty of theories why someone would want to control you. One is that people who can’t control themselves turn to controlling others. This happens on an emotional level. A person full of insecurities has to exact a positive sense of self from other people because their self esteem is too low to do it for themselves.
Maybe people control because they are afraid of being abandoned. They don’t feel secure in their relationships and are often testing to see if they’re about to be betrayed. The paradox is that their behavior creates exactly what they fear the most.
Perhaps controlling people are narcissists looking to control their environment by any means necessary. This would mean other people are pawns. They’re useful tools in the narcissist’s world to be used as he or she pleases. It’s nothing personal — you’re just a good pawn. The problem with this perspective is that controlling bullies often make us wonder, “Why me?” If it’s really nothing personal, “Why do I feel like a target?”
The simplest reason is that you’re a good, admirable person. There’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t have a target on your back, and you don’t deserve to be disrespected. It may sound like a radical concept, but what the controller wants is what you’ve got:
Given all those things, you know you deserve respect, but a controlling person is too intimidated to give it to you. They feel they must cut you down to size. It’s the only way they can tolerate being around you.
While there’s definitely an explanation for why the controller is the way they are, it doesn’t matter. It’s time to reclaim your power and focus on your own needs. This means setting steadfast boundaries and keeping the controller from stepping foot on the other side. Decide what you’re no longer willing to sacrifice. Some examples include:
The controller has been the beneficiary of your good will for too long. Now it’s time to put that in your own corner. It’s about self-preservation, and you’ll know when you’re doing it right because you won’t feel like a target anymore. In fact, the controller probably won’t have much use for you.
Make it perfectly clear to yourself each day that you’re in the driver’s seat and you’re not looking for anyone else to fill that position.
I was fortunate to be asked to present on “Guns in America” at the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America yesterday (6 October 2021). I discussed “Gun Culture 2.0 and the Changing Face of Gun Owners in America.”
I was fairly certain that the presentation would not be recorded, so before I left for Jay, Vermont I recorded an abbreviated (15 minute) version of my talk from my basement studio and uploaded it to YouTube.
That’s one melancholy lesson of the January 6 insurrection hoax: that America is fast mutating from a republic, in which individual liberty is paramount, into an oligarchy, in which conformity is increasingly demanded and enforced.
Another lesson was perfectly expressed by Donald Trump when he reflected on the unremitting tsunami of hostility that he faced as President. “They’re after you,” he more than once told his supporters. “I’m just in the way.”
he following is adapted from a lecture delivered at Hillsdale College on September 20, 2021, during a Center for Constructive Alternatives conference on “Critical American Elections.”
Notwithstanding all the hysterical rhetoric surrounding the events of January 6, 2021, two critical things stand out. The first is that what happened was much more hoax than insurrection. In fact, in my judgment, it wasn’t an insurrection at all.
An “insurrection,” as the dictionary will tell you, is a violent uprising against a government or other established authority. Unlike the violent riots that swept the country in the summer of 2020—riots that caused some $2 billion in property damage and claimed more than 20 lives—the January 6 protest at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. lasted a few hours, caused minimal damage, and the only person directly killed was an unarmed female Trump supporter who was shot by a Capitol Police officer. It was, as Tucker Carlson said shortly after the event, a political protest that “got out of hand.”
At the rally preceding the events in question, Donald Trump had suggested that people march to the Capitol “peacefully and patriotically”—these were his exact words—in order to make their voices heard. He did not incite a riot; he stirred up a crowd. Was that, given the circumstances, imprudent? Probably. Was it an effort to overthrow the government? Hardly.
I know this is not the narrative that we have all been instructed to parrot. Indeed, to listen to the establishment media and our political masters, the January 6 protest was a dire threat to the very fabric of our nation: the worst assault on “our democracy” since 9/11, since Pearl Harbor, and even—according to Joe Biden last April—since the Civil War!
Note that phrase “our democracy”: Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and various talking heads have repeated it ad nauseam. But you do not need an advanced degree in hermeneutics to understand that what they mean by “our democracy” is their oligarchy. Similarly, when Pelosi talks about “the people’s house,” she doesn’t mean a house that welcomes riff-raff like you and me.
I just alluded to Ashli Babbitt, the unarmed supporter of Donald Trump who was shot and killed on January 6. Her fate brings me to the second critical thing to understand about the January 6 insurrection hoax. Namely, that it was not a stand-alone event.
On the contrary, what happened that afternoon, and what happened afterwards, is only intelligible when seen as a chapter in the long-running effort to discredit and, ultimately, to dispose of Donald Trump—as well as what Hillary Clinton might call the “deplorable” populist sentiment that brought Trump to power.
In other words, to understand the January 6 insurrection hoax, you also have to understand that other long-running hoax, the Russia collusion hoax. The story of that hoax begins back in 2015, when the resources of the federal government were first mobilized to spy on the Trump campaign, to frame various people close to Trump, and eventually to launch a full-throated criminal investigation of the Trump administration.
The Supreme Court of the United States will soon be taking on NYSRPA v. Bruen, which may potentially result in a landmark Second Amendment decision on the right to bear arms. I am keeping my expectations low but hope to be pleasantly surprised next year. After all, the court tends to be measured, cautious and incremental. And lest we forget, the court also narrowed down the question presented when it decided to take on the case.
Besides, even with a favorable ruling, New York State is going to find ways to get around any wins the Supreme Court may hand down to us pesky gun-owning New Yorkers. Our legislators already have some bills in the works to get ahead of the curve.
Regardless of the magnitude of the win or New York’s vendetta in response, this court case has had a previously unthinkable variety of amicus briefs from diverse interest groups. By my count, there have been a total of 85 amicus briefs: 48 in support of the petitioners, 35 in support of New York State, and 2 briefs ostensibly in support of neither party.
The amicus briefs have revealed disagreements that show that Americans’ group identities are nowhere near a monolith when it comes to their rights. Here are some interesting divisions that stand out:
NAAGA vs. NAACP – The National African American Gun Association (NAAGA) has filed an amicus brief in support of New Yorkers’ gun rights. Their brief includes a detailed history of the discrimination endured by African Americans over the course of this country’s history when it came to their constitutionally protected gun rights, and they call for the right remedy to the injustices: protecting the right for everyone, instead of entrenching the power of New York State to discriminate at will. On the opposite side of the debate sits the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which has played an irreplaceable historical role in the civil rights movement, but which has issues when it comes to the inclusion of the right to keep and bear arms in the pantheon of civil rights.
NAAGA isn’t the only African American gun rights group that filed an amicus brief; Maj Toure’s Black Guns Matter has also filed one in conjunction with two other pro-rights groups.
Pinks Pistols vs. Lambda Legal – The gay rights group Lambda Legal has played an important role in litigation that helped win recognition of the rights of the LGBT community. It was surprising to see them step into the Second Amendment debate with an amicus brief, and disappointing to see the side they chose. However, on the pro-rights side, the nation’s oldest gun rights group that caters to the gay community (Pink Pistols) and the organization it merged with (Operating Blazing Sword) filed an amicus brief emphasizing how gun rights are important to the gay community, and why that right should be protected not just for gay people, but for every American.
Another gun rights group that trains the LGBT community is Armed Equality. They filed their joint amicus brief with Black Guns Matter and A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League.
Independent Women’s Law Center vs. League of Women Voters – Traditionally, the ownership of arms has been associated with men. However, women have been making huge strides in gun ownership and are among the fastest growing demographics when it comes to first-time gun buyers. The League of Women Voters, the organization that registered me to vote after I took my Oath of Citizenship, filed an amicus brief in support of New York. The Independent Women’s Law Center, on the other hand, filed a strong pro-rights brief.
Black Attorneys of Legal Aid and other Public Defenders vs. Prosecutors Against Gun Violence – The people fighting the worst of the legal abuses meted out to the poor are public defenders. They know how horrible the State can be because they are in the trenches fighting the system. The rest of us will likely never know what it’s like to be poor and on the receiving end of a vicious State apparatus. If you don’t have the time to read their amicus brief, just look at the Table of Contents; you will find a series of one-sentence tragic stories. On the anti-rights side, an organization called Prosecutors Against Gun Violence has filed an amicus brief.
Professors of Second Amendment Law vs. Professors of History and Law – Academics are split too. There are dueling amicus briefs submitted by two groups on either side of the debate. In addition to the aforementioned groups, there are other academics who also filed briefs. Professors Robert Leider, Nelson Lund, William English, J. Joel Alicea, Joyce Lee Malcolm (with the FPC) filed amicus briefs on the pro-rights side. Academics from the Duke University Center for Firearms Law also filed a brief ostensibly in support of neither party.
Regardless of the Court’s ruling, this case shows us how no group is monolithic when it comes to political stances, and the support for Second Amendment rights is as wide as it is deep. That’s worthy of celebration.
A reader comments on the “Gender Identity And Your Kids” thread:
There’s a certain kind of conservative who looks at this trend [the corruption of fandom by gender ideology obsessives — RD] and says, “Good riddance. Unplug it all. Now your lazy nerd kids can spend all day at the gym lifting weights, or learn to play a musical instrument, and won’t be wasting time on the fandom of some media-marketed TV show or book series.”
I totally understand this impulse as a utopian ideal, but I also think there’s a horrible lack of appreciation for how difficult it is to raise kids in a world where they are uncomfortable with participating (or forbidden to participate) in popular franchise fan culture. My children are homeschooled and constantly desperate for more peer interaction. When they meet other kids at the park, or the roller skating rink, or on vacation, they are bombarded with aspects of pop culture from which they are being excluded — and they know it. Last month my brother passed along a collection of books and comics that my nephew was reading, and within a few weeks my 9-year-old came to us to confess that one of the books had “the f-word” in it. It ended up featuring a protagonist who was a pre-op transgender boy. At at this point I’m not even sure if her uncle gave it to her out of ignorance, or if he knew but did it anyway as a way to subvert our overly protective parenting style. I don’t have the heart to start a confrontation over it, given the cultural and ideological stress I have with my siblings already. Do you have any idea how wretched I feel that I can no longer trust my own brother as a screen for children’s literature content?
Right now my girls are super-enthusiastic about a book series… and I know they are just a few books away from the one that introduces a lesbian character. We started watching a TV show… and I already know which season has the gay wedding. Every new property (whether it’s original or the rebooting of a Gen X classic) is simply obligated to pay out a wokeness tax now. I’ll let my children watch this stuff with my supervision sometimes, when we can talk about it along the way. But I can’t let them enjoy unsupervised spaces with peers, certainly not in virtual spaces, since those peers are not going to exercise similar discretion. I essentially have to ban my kids from having friends unless those friends are very carefully vetted and supervised, and now I feel trapped in a helicopter-parenting Defcon-alert holding pattern.
It’s hard to exaggerate how besieged the current culture makes me feel as a parent of two daughters leaving elementary school age. I have unceasing dread of a giant industry devoted to prying my children away from my world, my culture, and my values, and to convince them that I’m the sociological equivalent of the stock villains being defeated weekly in their prepackaged media products. I want to give my children the freedom to explore and discover friends without oppressive surveillance, but all of the friends they meet want to create secretive phone-driven modes of contact with them for private conversations. Am I doomed to become a CIA operative, using spyware to catch my preteen daughter having illicit chats about testosterone and top surgery? Will I be the stereotypical killjoy parent, demanding that my girls stop seeing any friends I regard as “a bad influence”? I’m staring into an abyss that has swallowed so much of my world and the things in it that I once loved already, and has designs on my girls as well.
I’ve given up on having any kind of fandom myself, except of a few retro franchises that I can pretend are “closed”. But even that no longer feels safe. What’s LGBT representation going to look like in the new Tolkien-verse show on Amazon? After feeding that fandom for years, do I suddenly have to start telling my own children to avoid interacting with anyone who acts too enthusiastic about Middle Earth? Is there any safe ground left? Will they come for Narnia next?
This devouring of a formerly apolitical childhood and adolescent culture of organic fan enthusiasm to transform it into a catechism for woke cant is an act of unspeakable cruelty to families.
Well said. This is what totalitarianism means: the infiltration of politics (cultural and otherwise) into every aspect of life. In Huxley’s Brave New World, the Savage was the only sane person there because as an exile, he had been raised ignorant of the corrupt totalitarian culture and its values. I heard the other day about a family — a conservative Christian family — that has been devastated by gender ideology wreaking havoc in the lives of their children. It sneaked up on them. Catastrophe. I mean, honest-to-God destruction of young people’s bodies and souls, and of family relationships.
It used to be that it takes a village to save a child. Now, you have to work hard to save your child from the village.
It is no secret that American public life is fracturing. The fissures can be seen in our gladiatorial-like Supreme Court nomination hearings, the collapse of confidence in our institutions, and the mounting sense that many have that elections won’t change the country’s fundamental trajectory. These disputes are merely symptoms, however, of a broader problem, the roots of which extend back decades.
As Ronald J. Pestritto, graduate dean and professor of politics at Hillsdale College, argues in America Transformed, our present-day clashes reflect a fundamental “divide over first principles,” which he traces to the rise of the Progressive Movement in the late nineteenth century. Pestritto makes a convincing case that the Progressives—including Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Croly, and John Dewey—sought to “revolutionize both the theory and practice of American government.”
The Progressives had their differences and factions: consider the fierce 1912 presidential campaign between Wilson and Roosevelt. Yet they adhered to a “coherent set of principles, with a common purpose.” They unleashed a “direct assault on the core ideas of the American founding,” openly rejecting the natural rights teachings of the Declaration of Independence. Wilson once told an audience that “if you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface”—the same preface that contains the most concise articulation of the Founders’ political theory.
Pestritto argues that, for progressives like education reformer Dewey, the Founders’ “great sin” was to think that principles such as a natural human equality in rights and government by consent transcended “the particular circumstances of that day.” Influenced by Hegel’s philosophical idealism, they argued that historical progress had shown that what the Founders thought were universal truths were in fact simply ideas of their time. In fact, the principles of the American Founding, and the Constitution built to reflect them, actively prevented government from taking the swift action that the public now demanded.
Pestritto suggests that “native influences” had already compromised the American immune system by the time the Progressive Movement emerged. A toxic mix of Social Darwinism, pragmatism, and the rejection of social compact theory in New England and the antebellum South prepared American intellectuals and politicians to accept an alternative account of politics that seemed better able to meet the challenges of modern society. The Progressives claimed that historical progress necessitated a dynamic and perfectible human nature, an idea that the Founders rejected. James Madison’s claim in Federalist 10 that the prevention of majority tyranny would always be a problem in political life was simply false, they believed. Thus Woodrow Wilson and political scientist Frank Goodnow sharply criticized the Constitution’s separation of powers and the slow, methodical lawmaking process the Framers had put in place, which they saw as hopelessly out of step with the public will and too often stymied by a combination of political machines, big business, and other special interests.
Pestritto maintains that the progressives worked toward “democratizing and unifying national political institutions,” though they sometimes differed on the means to achieve this end. Ever the radical, Theodore Roosevelt proposed policies such as overturning judicial decisions and the recall of recalcitrant judges who resisted heavy regulation of business. Herbert Croly, a cofounder of The New Republic, wanted to eliminate political parties altogether.
To make politics fully democratic, the Progressives insisted that political leaders accountable to the people needed to find means of breaking the constitutional logjam—think of Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit.” Roosevelt and Wilson frequently enlisted (and refashioned) the memory of American statesmen such as Abraham Lincoln, John Marshall, and Daniel Webster, men who, in their rendering, had supposedly discerned history’s centralizing trends.
Pestritto argues that as the Progressives seemingly brought politics closer to the people, they simultaneously moved “policymaking power away from popular institutions,” handing it to “educated elites.” They essentially established a fourth branch of government, a vast bureaucracy that wields legislative, executive, and judicial powers—what Madison considered the very definition of tyranny—that would fully bloom during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency. What we know today as the administrative state (a phrase coined by the political scientist Dwight Waldo in the 1950s) had its genesis in the Supreme Court’s ruling in J.W. Hampton v. United States, which granted broad powers to supposedly nonideological experts insulated from the corrupting effects of electoral politics.
Pestritto notes that this new conception of government—the sharp split between politics and administration—originated in the “laboratories of democracy” of state and local governments. There, Progressive governors such as California’s Hiram Johnson and Wisconsin’s Robert La Follette pushed direct democracy: the ballot initiative, recall, referendum, the direct election of senators, and electoral primaries. Through the establishment of government by unelected commission and the rise of nonpartisan city managers, the notion of expert administration permeated state governments in Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Illinois, as well as cities such as Galveston, Cincinnati, Des Moines, and Cleveland.
The Progressives’ strong belief in the notion of historical progress also guided their foreign policy. History had demonstrated that modern democracy was the “permanent and most advanced form of government,” Wilson once wrote. To make the world safe for democracy, the Progressives’ idealistic foreign policy necessitated an aggressive series of interventions in Haiti, Santo Domingo, Cuba, Mexico, and the Philippines.
History had chosen the United States to lead the “children” (as Wilson described other sovereign nations) so that they could someday reach the heights of democratic governance. And should certain “barbaric races” fail to do what they were told, Progressive historian Charles Merriam wrote in a particularly appalling passage, they “may be swept away.”
Some Progressives saw historical progress as the will of God Himself. Marshaling rhetoric that today would be regarded as extreme Christian nationalism, Roosevelt told the Progressive Party convention in 1912, “We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.”
Adherents of the Social Gospel, the Progressive Movement’s religious wing, were liberal Protestants who worked to reconcile life “on earth as it is in heaven.” They turned away from concerns over individual salvation and other orthodox theological concerns and instead inculcated a social ethic that sought to use the modern state to equalize economic conditions. Pestritto observes that in one of his more moderate moments Baptist pastor Walter Rauschenbusch called for the “public ownership of essential industries.” By following God’s unfolding plan, which history was revealing to mankind, human beings would someday experience the Eden that our ancestors had failed to maintain.
Pestritto concludes America Transformed by noting that, thanks to the Progressives’ handiwork, “citizens of two different regimes [are] occupying the same country.” The regime that today opposes that of the Founders is far different from what the original Progressives intended, but by uncoupling America from its natural rights foundations, they can justly be credited (or rather, blamed) for inaugurating our current crisis. Pestritto’s concise volume, the best available overview of progressive political thought and practice, will help Americans make sense of the stark divisions that confront us.
Yes, this is known, but it always bears repeating.
But that is really what Kulturkampf politics is all about: fortifying one’s own social status by exercising ritual domination over cultural rivals. That’s how you get punitive tax policies that don’t raise much revenue, “inclusiveness” policies based on exclusion, and gun-control proposals that don’t have anything to do with gun crime. It just feels good to exercise power over people you loathe or envy. That is the beginning and the end of it.
In the latest issue of National Review, I write about the lax enforcement of our gun laws and touch on a theme that is worth exploring a little more: Gun control is not about gun crime — gun control is about gun culture.
If we cared about keeping guns out of the hands of felons, we’d be locking up straw buyers. We’d be prosecuting prohibited “lie and try” buyers who falsify their ATF paperwork. And we’d be confiscating guns sold in retail transactions that were wrongly approved because of defects in the background-check system. But, for the most part, we don’t do much of any of that.
Instead of doing the hard work of enforcing the law on people committed to breaking it, we focus almost all of our efforts on the most law-abiding group of Americans there is: People who legally buy firearms from licensed firearms dealers, a group that, by definition, has a felony-conviction rate of approximately 0.0 percent. These are law-abiding people, but they also are, in no small part, the type of people who mash the cultural buttons of the big-city progressives who dominate the Democratic Party both culturally and financially. From that point of view, what matters is not that retail gun dealers and their clients are dangerous — which they certainly are not — but that they are icky.
The surge in new gun owners could have a political impact that lasts far longer than the pandemic and the surge in homicides that inspired it.
Between January 2019 and April 2021, approximately 7.5 million people became first-time gun owners. Nearly 50% of them were women. More than 40% are black or Latino. This is bad news for the gun control movement and, perhaps in the long term, for the Democratic Party.
One of the most telling graphics from the 2016 election came from the New York Times. It showed the great bulk of voters in households with no guns voted for Hillary Clinton in every state except West Virginia and Wyoming (the latter had insufficient data). Voters in gun-owning households favored Donald Trump in every state but Vermont. That includes the most Democratic states in the country, including California, New York, and Hawaii.
According to Gallup data , roughly two-thirds of Republicans live in gun-owning households, compared to just one-third of Democrats. Half of Republicans personally own a firearm, compared to 18% of Democrats.
Granted, it isn’t as simple as these first-time gun owners immediately becoming Republicans. But, even among Democrats, gun owners are more likely to oppose gun control measures. According to data from the Pew Research Center, 87% of non-gun-owning Democrats support banning “assault-style weapons.” That number drops to 65% among gun-owning Democrats. Allowing concealed carry in more places has support among 39% of gun-owning Democrats, compared to 16% support among Democrats who don’t own firearms.
Gun control, despite polling well as a collection of general platitudes, is already a losing issue throughout the country. Each time someone becomes a first-time gun owner, the chances of passing the strict gun control measures that the gun control movement and the majority of the Democratic Party want to see implemented go down. The pandemic will go away, and homicides will decline — but this will continue to shape our gun control politics for years to come.
Perhaps it’s because we have been discussing this moment for over a decade; or perhaps it’s because we’ve already chosen our tribe amid this league of crazy; or perhaps it’s just because we don’t like ‘them’ in the first place; but whatever it is, this announcement today by the White House to cleave society into vaxxed -vs- non-vaxxed status is actually a little funny. Good luck with it.
Eyes of a mouse. Ears of an elephant. Heart of a lion, and the mindset of an insurgent.
This ain’t new. Or as we say amid my social circle: “We done knew.”
The White House claims that 80 million Americans are unvaccinated, and we are now the enemy of the state. OK, whatever. When you get all done with the teeth gnashing part, I’m still unvaxxed. And if I’m no longer permitted to engage in a social construct that I have been studiously avoiding for the past few decades, well, meh…. a’right then, punish me by barring me from living life amid the Federal Moonbats. The federal compliance and enforcement part of the mandated worker vaccination will be fun to watch.
I have serious doubts that only 80 million Americans are unvaccinated, but fair enough; if that’s your number, okay then. However, consider this…. Assuming we are the minority group, the non-vaxxed crew breaks down into two broad segments: (1) The extremely well-educated who carry commonsense and are in a social strata where they remain quiet about it; and (2) The skeptical productive class of similarly disposed commonsense blue-collar workers who are the backbone of American productivity.
Media outlets love reporting the results of polling on hot-button policy issues, but they rarely tell you if the people supporting proposed legislation (especially when it’s restrictive) are the same people who would be affected by it. That matters in several important ways, not least of which is that getting a law passed is not the same thing as getting people to obey. Nowhere does that matter more than in the heated debate over gun laws.
“Fifty-seven percent of registered voters in the March 24-26 survey said there should be more laws regulating guns in the country,” The Hill reported earlier this year of the results of a Hill-HarrisX poll. That the story might be a little more complicated is hinted at later in the article where the numbers are broken down along partisan lines to reveal that 79 percent of Democrats support tighter gun laws, but only 36 percent of Republicans agree.
Why does the partisan divide on gun policy matter so much? Because gun ownership has traditionally been divided just as starkly along partisan lines, “with Republican and Republican-leaning independents more than twice as likely as Democrats and those who lean Democratic to say they own a gun (44% vs. 20%),” according to 2017 polling by Pew Research. That may indicate an ideological difference, or it may be evidence that familiarity with firearms encourages a more relaxed attitude towards their legal status, or both. Whatever the reason for the deep disagreement, enforcing “tighter gun laws” would require the cooperation of the people who actually possess them and oppose such policy changes.
Recently, though, the partisan divide on gun ownership seems to be shifting. More people from the left side of the political spectrum and members of Democrat-leaning constituencies have been acquiring them as a means for self-defense. They’ve lined up to make purchases at gun stores as faith in police and institutions erodes and society fractures. But even as their partisan identity becomes less predictable, gun owners and non-owners continue to disagree on policy.
Back in 1943, the British novelist Graham Greene published “The Ministry of Fear,” a thriller set in World War II London involving mercy killings, exploding suitcases, seances, Luftwaffe air raids, outright murder, insane asylums and undercover Nazi spies. It was successfully made into a movie the following year starring Ray Milland as the troubled protagonist, and directed by Fritz Lang, himself a refugee from Hitler.
Both novel and film capture the paranoid atmosphere during that troubled time, with danger lurking even in something as innocent as a cake. Whom or what can you trust? As the world falls apart, and the future is shrouded in threat and mystery, society devolves into a dog-eat-dog struggle for survival, in which neither the old verities nor the old pieties obtain any longer.
Welcome to America, 2021. In just a few short months since the mysterious elevation of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., inexplicably elected the 46th president of the United States, our country has undergone a stunning rapid devolution from a confident, economic powerhouse to a shabby debtor nation afraid of its own shadow.
The American Ministry of Fear, however, is not located in the Chancellery of the National Socialist German Workers Party in Berlin, but in every petty federal, state, and local bureaucracy, doctor’s office, TV news station, big-city newspaper, college and university in the country.
From the start of the COVID-19 manufactured panic, these agents of influence have waged a relentless war on the American psyche. And now, despite their miniscule majorities in Congress, they rule with an iron fist that brooks no demurral.
The odd election of 2020 does not sit well with a great many Americans. They are not in the mood to engage in the equivalent theatrics of Ben Cohen’s mockery of Bush or the pussyhat feminists’ sneers against Trump.
President Biden is, in their view, a hollow figure not even worth mention. Their complaint lies far deeper as they see the purposeful destruction of American values by an elite that bullies and derides them.
What will come of this? How might revolt manifest itself? I hope it will be a successful recapture of key institutions, perhaps beginning with the schools. But the political elite that prefers to scorn the common people for wanting a say in their government is playing an awfully risky game. Despair breeds wrath and that fire, once ignited, will engulf us all.
America is no longer just angry. We have become a nation of wrath. It is a risky emotional condition, recognizable by our desire to obliterate our opponents. Wrath doesn’t seek reconciliation. It wants revenge. Nor does wrath want to accommodate what it can’t control. It wants to rub the slate clean.
There is a wrathfulness of the political left, stemming from visceral hatred of Trump and his supporters. But as the left is ascendant in the seats of power, it can pursue its effort to extinguish its opposition via the instruments of state. The wrathfulness on the political right is another story. Wrath reaches its zenith when people feel not just abused but hopeless in the pursuit of any redress. American wrath right now is the white-hot anger of the millions of people who have concluded the country is being destroyed and they have no legal redress.
I have been writing about anger in America for close to 20 years. That is a period that encompasses the ‘I hate George W. Bush’ manifestos; Revd Wright’s ‘God damn America’ sermons; Obama’s ‘They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them’; Hillary’s ‘basket of deplorables’ characterized by ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic’ views; Trump Derangement Syndrome; the 2020 George Floyd ‘peaceful protests’; and the QAnon Shaman at the January 6 Capitol riot.
All of these are instances of American rage, specifically from its political branch. But the quality of the anger differs from one instance to another. Anger against George W. Bush, first ignited by his disputed 2000 victory over Al Gore, was vehement but theatrical. Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, for example, mounted a national ‘Pants on Fire’ tour in 2004, exhibiting a 12-foot effigy of Bush with fake flames shooting out of his trousers.
The pussyhatted protesters at Trump’s inaugural in 2017 had some similar goal of deflating a man they saw as pompous and overbearing, but the tone of the protest shifted from exaggerated disrespect to something approaching bitter enmity.
Both are instances of what I call ‘new anger’, a self-congratulatory, look-at-me styling of the old emotion. New anger is a post-World War Two phenomenon that followed from the breakdown of an older ethic. For centuries American culture had upheld an ideal of self-control, in which easy resort to anger was stigmatized as a weakness and a personal fault. The arrival on these shores of Freudian analysis, emphasizing that repressed anger causes neurosis, and the simultaneous importation of the existentialist idea that unleashing anger is the path toward finding your authentic self, opened the door to this emotional rewiring of the American temperament.
According to this Washington Post article, the percentage of Americans who own guns has jumped from 32% to 39% in the past year. That’s due to huge waves of new, first-time gun owners, of all political and cultural persuasions, deciding that owning a firearm is a good idea.
For many new gun owners, though, the decision to arm themselves is a political pivot — an accumulation of anxieties that led them to discard long-held beliefs. It’s a decision that is particularly difficult for people who belong to groups at higher risk of being on the wrong end of gun violence.
Jabril Battle, a 28-year-old account representative at a financial services company in Los Angeles, had always believed that “anyone who had a gun was a gun nut,” he said. “I really bought into the whole idea that the more people have guns … the more likely it is for people to start killing each other.”
“I was just, like, ‘Do I want to be the person who has a gun or doesn’t have a gun?”
Battle bought a Beretta 92FS, then added a Glock 34 pistol.
Still, he had reservations: “Being Black with a gun is a very high risk, a way higher risk than other races,” he said. “You are seen as a threat without a gun, and with a gun you are seen as a super threat.”
He kept imagining the scene if he were stopped by a White police officer.
“It’s still in my head, honestly, when I go to the gun range and I have my gun in my car,” he said. “If I get pulled over, and they ask, ‘Are there any weapons in the car?’ [and] I say there’s a gun, and then I hand in my registration, will they shoot me?”
But he’s enjoying the new world that guns opened to him — classes, an organization of Black gun owners, shooting competitions.
“Once I started being around guns more, and I kind of saw the culture and the environment, I’m falling in love,” he said.
In Battle’s family, guns were “not a good thing,” he said. “It kind of represented crime, especially for Black people. It’s just different for African Americans.”
But his family has accepted his decision, he said. His grandmother and two aunts came to the range with him and are considering returning to take lessons.
— Marc Fisher, Miranda Green, and Andrea Eger in ‘Fear on top of fear’: Why anti-gun Americans joined the wave of new gun owners
To be worthy of following, post-Trump leadership must become consistent in deed with the insight that vaulted Donald Trump to public attention.
Donald Trump became the political vehicle for the American people’s resentment of an overweening, corrupt ruling class. Trump’s invaluable contribution to the Republic was to lead Americans publicly to disrespect that class.
Americans elected Trump to preserve freedoms and prosperity against the encroachments of that class. But instead, he became the catalyst by which that class cohered to transform the American Republic into an oligarchy.
During Trump’s presidency, more wealth passed from ordinary Americans to oligarchs, and more freedoms were lost than anyone imagined possible. As we consider how to remedy these losses, Trump’s fateful combination of things said and unsaid, of things done and not done, must be part of our search for the persons and policies most likely to lead republican Americans out of our quandary.
In 2015 and 2016, candidate Trump’s disrespectful, disdainful attitude toward the ruling class put him at the head of presidential preference polls ab initio, and kept him there. Throughout the campaign, he said little of substance—just enough to give the impression that he was on the side of conservatives on just about everything. His leitmotif was “I despise those whom you despise because they despise you. I’m on your side, America’s side.”
Weren’t We Always Extremists?
But over the years, I’ve had to disentangle my pride in my family’s work ethic and character, which so closely align with the American ideals I was taught and still vigorously believe in, from our government itself.
When we said, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ the reality is that this principle had been self-evident to practically no one throughout thousands of years of history. When we said that all men are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ it got people’s attention, and suddenly others began to agree. When we said humans are entitled to ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,’ it became a violation to impede such things. But make no mistake. These notions were not mainstream when our founders threw down the gauntlet with the Declaration of Independence.”………….
I always find it odd that America alone is criticized for injustices such as slavery, racism, inequality, and civil rights violations. It’s as if the vast majority of people are truly under the impression these injustices only ever happened here. In truth, the entirety of human history is marred by these evils, and in many places, you’ll find much worse conditions for civil liberties to this day………….
“If you were a mom, you’d feel differently. You’d back gun control!”
Have you ever heard this argument? Has someone literally tried to shame you into backing gun control by claiming that if you were a mother, you’d somehow have a completely different view of people’s rights?
I have, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
To be fair, there’s a lot of talk about moms in the gun control ranks. Moms Demand Action, for example–I know, I know, it sounds more like an adult website featuring older women than a gun control group, but it is. They’re not alone either. The Million Mom March, for example.
However, a recent study decided to take a look and see if motherhood actually affects one’s views on gun control.
When it comes to support for gun control policies, mothers are not significantly different than women without children, according to new research published in the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties. The findings indicate that parenthood doesn’t have a substantial impact on gun control views in the United States.
“I’ve always been interested in topics around gender and parenthood in American politics where I think, maybe, how a group or political dynamic is portrayed in the media may not actually reflect the underlying dynamic that well,” said study author Steven Greene (@HankGreene), a professor of political science at North Carolina State University.
“For example, 14 years ago, Laurel Elder and I co-wrote, ‘The Myth of “Security Moms” and “NASCAR Dads”: Parenthood, Political Stereotypes, and the 2004 Election.’ So much media and public attention around gun control has focused on moms (e.g., the Million Mom March) that we were anxious to explore this dynamic to see how much motherhood seemed to explain gun attitudes.…
The researchers had hypothesized that fatherhood would push men towards more conservative attitudes on gun control policies, while motherhood would push women towards more liberal attitudes. But after controlling for sociodemographic variables, there was little evidence that parenthood had much impact.
Mothers held more liberal views on guns control compared to the general population. But this appeared to be unrelated to motherhood. Women were more liberal than men in general on questions related to gun laws and regulations. But there was no evidence that mothers’ opinions on guns were more liberal compared to women without children. In fact, mothers were slightly more likely to support less restrictive gun laws.
However, what does this really change? Not a whole lot. The anti-gunners will continue to pretend they represent mothers in totality and we’ll continue to know better.
What this does, though, is provide an important data point.
See, what anti-gunners love to do–and they’re generally able to with the help of a complicit media–is try to paint a small group with some shared identity as speaking for the group in totality. In this example, moms.
They also do it with March For Our Lives.
Remember how there was all that hype, about how the younger generation was going to step up and save us. However, support for gun control is dropping among those under 30. March For Our Lives doesn’t represent young people, it represents March For Our Lives members.
The same is clearly true with groups like Moms Demand Action and moms across the country.
I wonder which political party dominates these cities?
An alarming new report has revealed that a majority of the country’s biggest cities are even more segregated today than they were more than 30 years ago.
Nearly 81% of the country’s metropolitan centers — 169 out of 209 cities — are more segregated than in 1990, according to a new study, with cities such as Providence, Rhode Island, and Salt Lake City, Utah, seeing notable increases.
Cities considered the most segregated include New York — which ranks No. 1 — as well as Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, among others.
While a few Southern cities are considered some of the most segregated metropolitan areas in the US — such as Miami (ranking No. 5) and New Orleans (tied for No. 10 with Beaumont-port Arthur Texas) — others in the region also saw the greatest decrease, including Miami, as well as Savannah, Georgia, and San Antonio, Texas.
The new report by the University of California Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute, which “flies in the face of prevailing perceptions that the US has become less segregated since the Civil Rights era,” found that a majority of regions with more than 200,000 residents were more segregated in 2019 than they were in 1990.
“These findings were as startling as they were disturbing,” said Stephen Menendian, the institute’s assistant director and lead author of the project, in a Berkeley news release.
The cold civil war is being fought in civic meetings. The battles are local and the battle maps cover streets rather than continents, but it is a conflict driven by the impetus of revolutions and civil wars in which one people, as Jefferson wrote, seeks to part ways with another, not to rule over them, but to be free of their thievery, their abuses, and their tyrannical rule
That a battle over Atlanta would play nearly as pivotal a role in the country’s second civil war as it did in the first might have surprised few historians. What might have surprised them is that the battle would involve civic meetings rather than bullets. There are plenty of bullets in Buckhead, a part of Atlanta coping with runaway crime under the pro-crime rule of Mayor Keisha Bottoms, and those bullets have inspired local residents to secede and form their own police force.
Buckhead is not the first part of Atlanta to try and secede. Sandy Springs had already successfully seceded from Atlanta and a number of cities in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, have tried to break away to form Milton County. These efforts to escape the blight and corruption of Atlanta aren’t new, but Buckhead’s fight to escape Atlanta’s pro-crime government has captured the imagination of millions of Americans from one coast of the country to the other.
The cold civil war is being shaped not by national, but local secessions like the one in Buckhead as neighborhoods try to secede from cities, cities from counties, and counties from states in a powerful struggle by conservative and centrist communities to define their own way of life.
Twilight of the Elites
It will be arduous, but we should remain undaunted: A new dawn of freedom is rising.
It is hard to describe the clueless hubris exhibited by the smug, self-satisfied G7 “club” while they played grab-ass for photo-ops in the Cornish sands of Carbis Bay, even as the world they ravaged is roiled with deprivation, dislocation, and angst; and a tsunami of populist contempt rises and races toward them.
The Babylon Bee most succinctly identified the G7’s political dimension—“People Who Ruined World’s Economies Gather To Discuss How To Fix World’s Economies.” Yet, recognizing this meeting’s historic import, Ricochet editor-in-chief and “Undisputed King of Stuff” Jon Gabriel tried valiantly to more fully capture this twilight of the elite in his piece, “Repeating Dead Rituals from a Former Age”:
In 1910, nine European sovereigns posed for a final ‘family photo’ before the Great War. They gathered for the funeral of King Edward VII, appropriately enough. Within ten years, the majority had lost power via abdication, assassination, revolution, or death . . . Pantomimes like this week’s G7 Summit reveal an enervated order that doesn’t wield power so much as it clings to it.
These nine European sovereigns in 1910 were the heads of state in elitist, stratified societies. Ultimately, their cupidity helped spark the unprecedented butchery of World War I. Consequently, their regimes were deposed; and the ideological foundation of their authority was held by their peoples to be an illegitimate basis for ruling.
After its execrable, barbaric experiments in fascism and Communism and a second world war, Europe ultimately followed the example of the American Revolution: the true sovereign power of a nation was acknowledged to stem from its people with their consent. Those monarchs who remained were relegated to figureheads, tourist attractions, and tabloid fodder.
Yet is the consent of the governed the legitimacy upon which these G7 leaders rest? And, if so, will it be swept away with them as the Undisputed King of Stuff cautions:
The danger ahead is that, as [Martin] Gurri writes, ‘You can condemn politicians only for so long before you must reject the legitimacy of the system that produced them.’ Everyone senses a change coming and pray it’s nothing like what swept away the world of 1910.