April 19: The odd intersection of history and government

Today in Washington D.C. and nearby Virginia groups of conservative activists marched in support of their Second Amendment rights, some carrying firearms (at least in VA, since it’s not legal in D.C.) It was nothing special as far as recent conservative protests go, but many on the left were horrified because today is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

This coincidence was not lost on breathless anti-gun proponents, who apparently have no problem engaging in guilt by association. You see, Ted Kaczynski didn’t like the government, so obviously everyone else who doesn’t is at least suspect of harboring terrorist tendencies. Cliff Schecter at Huffington Post got things rolling thusly (emphasis added):

To protesters at the Fort Hunt rally, the federal government, a health care bill and their personal interpretation of the Constitution are reasons for everyone to be armed and ready to do battle (although, interestingly, during the Bush Administration’s assault on the Constitution with the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, turning Gitmo into, well, Gitmo, rendition, etc., we didn’t hear much from this crowd). Losing an election is just another justification for political violence.

To the victims of gun violence, who realize we aren’t living in some Wyatt Earp fantasy land, perhaps getting guns out of the hands of those who fetishize violence and commit crimes and terrorist acts is just a tad bit more important. This likely includes some of those paranoid souls listening to the speakers at the Fort Hunt rally, perhaps planning to be the next one to shoot someone at the Pentagon or fly an airplane into an IRS building.

Which world do you live in on the 15th anniversary of an American tragedy? And which one do you want to live in?

Bill Clinton also issued an op-ed in today’s New York Times on the bombing, where he connected small-government activism with terrorism (emphasis added):

[W]e should never forget what drove the bombers, and how they justified their actions to themselves. They took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them. On that April 19, the second anniversary of the assault of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, deeply alienated and disconnected Americans decided murder was a blow for liberty.

Funny Clinton would mention Waco, where ATF agents “Wyatt Earped” their way into a compound full of women and children. This, of course, happened during the Clinton administration.

Now, I could ramble on for quite a while about the Left’s sudden distaste for dissent — once the “highest form of patriotism” but now apparently dangerous extremism — but I’ll let this one recent example of cognitive dissonance suffice:

Sonoma County officials forcefully separated an elderly gay couple, moved one into a retirement home against his will and auctioned off all of the couple’s worldy possessions.  And it was ostensibly legal. (Lawsuits are in the works, thank god.)

I imagine many  who applaud Clinton’s words would be outraged about this, and rightly so, yet they still demonize those who are fundamentally skeptical of  government, who don’t see the state as a benevolent protector. The Left and much of the media derides small-government advocates as wackos, and thus are still shocked every time big government acts like conservatives say big government is wont to act.

The biggest problem with the Left past and present is its failure to recognize the relation between larger government, especially unchecked large government, and less freedom. The Left can identify the problem (in this case, grievous intrusion by the government into the lives of a gay couple), but it refuses to acknowledge the cause — that is, state-involvement in marriage and financial arrangements between partners.

The most common solution proposed to this problem is to make same-sex couples equal under the law. Not a bad idea by any means, but it is not a solution to the cause of the problem. Indeed, it is rare to hear people left-of-center say, “Y’know, maybe the government shouldn’t have any business at all in marriage between consenting adults.”

So the Bill Clintons of the world expect us to continue giving “public servants,” like the Sonoma County officials who destroyed the lives of two men, the benefit of the doubt. Because, hey, what could go wrong? And we who disagree are the crazy ones.

Oh, but there I go being a domestic terrorist again.

On an aside, April 19th is a date fraught with much more history than the Oklahoma City bombing and Waco.  Sixty seven years ago — April 19, 1943 — the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began. The battles of Lexington and Concord began on April 19 as well. Draw what parallels you will between those events and a discussion about big government and “extremism”

P.S. Radley Balko has a good response to the Clinton op-ed and the Sonoma County case.

P.P.S. On one final note, how did we get so far away from the words of Thomas Paine? “Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best stage, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”


5 Responses to “April 19: The odd intersection of history and government”

  1. 1 Vincent
    April 19, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Awesome post.

  2. 2 Scarecrow
    April 19, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    This is a fantastic post. You made a lot of good points here… And much that needs to be said and more importantly, thought about.

  3. 3 Mrs. King
    April 20, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I agree.

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