Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Concerned Citizens Brigade

“I’m just so afraid that, with the direction this country is headed, people aren’t going to take it anymore. Our country is headed for total chaos, and there will be bloodshed if something doesn’t change.” My friend was explaining to me why he was stockpiling ammunition in his basement, in preparation for the coming revolution. He didn’t seem to think this would be a bad thing.

I’ve noticed that my fellow conservatives seem to be greatly preoccupied with this apparently inevitable contingency. I think it’s kind of an interesting perspective. It’s morally neutral and legally convenient – they’re not actually advocating, at least explicitly, armed revolt. They’re just worrying about its imminent arrival. Just innocent bystanders, you understand. This seemingly objective observation regarding a future contingency, however, contains an implicit argument, which goes something like this:

  1. I would not be preparing for social implosion if there weren’t an imminent threat of revolution. I’m preparing for social implosion. Therefore, there’s an imminent threat of revolution.
  2. There would not be an imminent threat of revolution unless citizens had justifiable cause. There is an imminent threat of revolution (as demonstrated above). Therefore, citizens must have a justifiable cause for such action.

It’s a great argument, because it doesn’t really require any proof that such events are inevitable (or even probable), that the actions of the agent are reasonable or proportional to the circumstances, or that there is any basis for this righteous wrath of the populace. Kind of convenient, don’t you think? “I would not be wearing a towel on my head if I weren’t about to be abducted by aliens. I am wearing a towel on my head. Therefore I’m about to be abducted by aliens.” I suppose that if you can get enough people standing around fretting about what others are about to do, then this sort of becomes its own argument that something is about to happen, and maybe there’s a reason for it. Lunacy finds strength in numbers.

And this is the real purpose of the supposedly objective sentiments of concern, isn’t it? To draw attention to the intense dissatisfaction of others, and the severity of our circumstances, which, apparently, leave almost no option but armed revolt. There’s no objectivity about it. I wouldn’t mind if my fellow conservatives just came out and said, “We disagree with the policies of our government, so we intend to vote other representatives into office.” Fine, that’s an honest statement, and one with which I heartily agree. But these backhanded threats against our democratic institutions – that’s what I find really offensive. I’m not sure who should scare me more – the tyrannical government that is taking away our liberties, or the patriots who intend to win them back.

I could reason with my friend – encourage him to articulate his beliefs in a compelling manner, to gain the support of his fellow citizens, and to elect officials who will govern wisely and well. I’m just afraid, however, that someone will get fed up with his blustering, threats, and temper tantrums, and pop him a juicy one right on the end of his nose. Some people can only take so much.

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