The rush to disarm Americans is the wrong reaction to the Parkland school shooting, says contributor Tom Graham
By Michael Sabbeth Words are powerful tools. Words relating to gun rights have unique power because they contour thoughts about exigent life and death issues. The rhetoric currently employed by those that seek to diminish or eliminate any or all variants of the right to possess and to use firearms employs a cascade of deceits that go beyond false assertions and half truths. False analogies, false choices, straw man arguments, distortion of facts, omission of critical facts and over emphasis of insignificant facts are other rhetorical tricks used to craft a façade of rationality to justify limiting or eliminating access to firearms. The rhetoric also discloses that a deeply nihilistic ideology pervades the anti-firearms political movement. The guilty and the aggressor are favored and the innocent are punished. This nihilistic reality seems a result of the organic evolution of the democratic state toward egalitarianism, moral relativism and bureaucratic metastasizing. The individual becomes the victim. Asserting one’s individualism and, as this essay is concerned, one’s right to exist, become a threat to the bureaucratic state. Human beings become an inconvenience. Control becomes the sole goal and process trumps consequences. The implications of these political tendencies include the loss of freedom, the elevated risk of loss of life and the debilitation of the moral character of society and of the individuals within it. Understanding the rhetorical tricks and deceits can lead to intelligent informed citizens regarding the gun control issue. Understanding the nihilism of the modern bureaucratic state as it is applied to gun control and to other public policy issues—healthcare and extreme environmentalism come to mind—can enable the formation of a democratic political response that might thwart the state’s nihilistic usurpation of power.
Table of Contents
Winning the Rhetoric War on Gun Rights 3 Measuring the Morality of Rhetoric 4 The Clash with Gun Rights 6 Nihilism and Gun Rights 8 Rhetoric and the Gun Control Debates 10 Making Us Weak 12 Conclusion 14
Winning the Rhetoric War on Gun Rights By Michael G. Sabbeth, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org
Words have power. Words have consequence. One word can convey a moral philosophy. One word or even a short phrase can convey a full ideology. One word or phrase can win or lose political battles. Therefore, it is essential that the morality and the ideology inherent in the words and phrases used to attack, trivialize or eliminate gun rights be understood. Only by understanding them can we craft effective strategies to counter them. Many wars are being fought in these trying times, and each war contains its own words and language. Losing the war of words against gun rights, however, will be devastating, not only in tangible terms of gun ownership but also the consequential losses of other interrelated battles. The attack on guns is as much an assault on liberty and national character as it is on firearms. To support my grandiose claim, let’s examine how the banal phrase ‘public safety’ can morph into a perfidious ideology. Other than mom and apple pie, few examples of rhetoric so powerfully evoke such a virtuous image. As applied to beleaguered Bill Malcolm, however, a 61-year-old gardener living in the Bromsgrove district council, England, public safety became a lever manipulated to destroy his basic liberties. According to the Daily Mail, October 9, 2008, Mr. Malcolm had been persistently victimized by burglaries of his modest allotment, (property). Tools from his shed were stolen, his produce was pilfered and his property was damaged. To deter the criminal yobs, Bill took the reasonable defensive step of erecting a barbed wire fence around his property. The government council forced him to remove it. The fence was unacceptable on health and safety grounds. What priority of safety merited the government’s attention? Take a deep breath. The well-being of the vandals. The government’s concern was that the fence was potentially hazardous to the criminals “in case intruders scratch themselves.” Got it? One might logically question why a city council would be concerned about a scratched felon. The answer illustrates the corrosive relationship between an intrusive government and personal freedom. “They (the council) didn't want to be sued by a wounded thief.” A legal framework had been constructed such that a criminal injured while committing a crime could sue the government for damages for failing to compel residents to make their property more hospitable to folks actively engaged in their chosen trade. The rhetoric of public safety thus acquired a meaning that advanced a perverse moral ideology. It meant the right of a citizen to protect himself and his property was judged less morally worthy than preventing scratches on the skin of a felon. Stripped of its bureaucratic nuance like a scab pulled from a wound, innocent property owners were sacrificed on the altar of public safety in a shrine populated by well-protected criminals. The council’s advice to victimized Mr. Malcolm was equally morally bereft: “Don’t leave anything of value in your shed.” The logical inferences of this craven ideology of ‘pubic safety’ are stark and bode ominously for a free society, or a society that once was free. Property ownership, not the criminal, becomes the cause of crime. Two other inferences logically follow: one, since the ideology holds that personal property is the cause of crime, personal property will not be protected by the state; and two, the state will prohibit the owner from protecting his personal property out of self interest. Conceptually and practically, private property becomes extinct. In the following examples of government behavior we see how these treacherous realities reverberate with greater intensity as if in an echo chamber. One man’s shed may be extrapolated to another man’s castle. Recall the confiscation of legally owned firearms in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in the last quarter of 2005. As rapists, looters, robbers and other predatory miscreants roamed New Orleans like hyenas circling a corpse, Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Chief Warren Riley deceitfully used the concept public safety to justify their assault on gun owners.
Measuring the Morality of Rhetoric
The New Orleans government action is Bromsgrove to the tenth power. The thuggish horror our young men in uniform were willing to inflict upon innocent New Orleans citizens cannot be adequately expressed in words. They must be viewed to be grasped. Some of the videos of the confiscation are found on the NRA’s website. See www.nraila.org/Multimedia/ReadVideo.aspx?ID=1355089 and www.nraila.org/Multimedia/ReadVideo.aspx?ID=1274053. The morality of the rhetoric employed to justify the Bromsgrove and New Orleans actions can be measured. In each instance, the government elevated the safety of the aggressor over the safety of the innocent victim. Criminality was advanced and safety and liberty were ravaged. In New Orleans, the government engaged in what has been called in another context “the devil’s arithmetic.” New Orleans made a moral value preference: the harm the criminals inflicted upon innocent property owners was preferred to the sum of the theoretical harm innocent armed citizens might inflict upon the criminals plus the harm the criminals might inflict on the innocents. This ideology of this morally obscene arithmetic holds that fighting back—self defense, the desire to survive—becomes escalation. It thus follows that the will to survive becomes a threat to public safety, thereby justifying government intrusion. The moral judgment of guilt and innocence becomes an annoying anecdote. The innocent victim that fights back becomes the provocateur. In this view of public safety, existence becomes provocation. These examples illustrate what German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called ‘nihilism,’ a state of being where moral judgment and moral preferences are extinguished and all life becomes equal in moral meaninglessness. One life has no greater moral claim than another. In the Bromsgrove and Katrina examples, the value of the criminal was viewed by the state as morally equal to—indeed greater than—the value of the innocent victim. To implement this nihilistic ideology of moral equality, the state willfully yet logically pursued the bureaucratic path of least resistance: attacking the obedient innocent home or gun owner and appeasing or ignoring the criminal. The cost of confronting the criminal was far greater than the cost of beating innocent citizens into submission. The government declined to pay it. The reality is that the criminal threatens individual citizens but the innocent citizens fighting back threaten the state—the state’s monopoly on the use of power. The first threat was acceptable to the state. The second was not. The reader might wonder what this has to do with gun rights. The answer become evident when one analyzes another nihilistic policy that deals with self defense, in this case, another British policy. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC), the government controlled news agency, and other information dissemination institutions have instructed that people being attacked by criminals should not call for help. Also, bystanders witnessing attacks should not intervene to help victims. The publicly stated rationale for this morally debased policy is that ordinary citizens lack the skill to combat the criminal. The rationale illuminates the devaluing of the individual in societies progressing towards totalitarianism. A legitimate question is how much skill is needed to effectively combat or thwart a criminal attacking a person? We can also make the wholly rational assessment that calling the police may be thoroughly futile as a timely strategy for dealing with an attack, particularly British police. What’s the expression? When seconds count, the police are just minutes away! But the issue of victim competence does not lie at the heart of the government policy. The core rationale is the government’s concern that the person defending himself or the intervener trying to help the victim might use excessive force against the criminal and, thus, violate the criminal’s rights. As reported in the newspaper The Independent, “It cannot possibly be suggested,” government attorneys argued, “that members of the public cease to be so whilst committing criminal offences, and whilst society naturally condemns, and punishes such persons judicially, it can not possibly condone their (unlawful) murder or injury.” This is Bromsgrove on mescaline! Bobbing about in this nihilistic maelstrom, the armed citizen, of course, poses the highest threat level to the criminal’s well being. This is the ideological explanation for Britain’s bi-polar approach to public safety, where even plastic replicas of guns and any other object that might be used as a weapon are illegal. Once again, the government has determined that the rights of the criminal are valued more than the rights of the innocent victim. This is a replication of the nihilistic ideology seen in the Katrina and Bromsgrove examples. But here we see the nihilistic ideology actually implemented at the street level. The citizen—armed or otherwise—capable of defending itself poses a threat to the criminal but the primary concern of the state is the threat to its monopoly on control. This is nihilism in all its raw ugliness: once the government abandons the moral distinction between victim and aggressor, its default value becomes control as an end in itself, completely unhinged to morality. Free independent citizens, particularly citizen with gun, threaten the foundation of the government’s ideology because they assert a moral justification for their freedom and liberty. They say that they have a right to exist. They say their right to exist holds a higher value than the rights of the aggressors seeking to harm or kill them. The modern egalitarian bureaucratic state, steeped in nihilism like a rotting teabag, denies this moral hierarchy.
The Clash with Gun Rights
The self interest of the state to impede, control, and intimidate those that act in accord with moral principles is the root cause of anti-gun activity. One cannot comprehend the force and psychological source of the anti-gun impetus if one fails to absorb this point. The conflict of interests between the nihilistic state and morally-based freedoms for individuals is irreconcilable. The clash also provides insight into the intensity of the anti gun forces and their willingness to unceasingly resort to minutiae in order to subvert gun rights. Here are a few examples of nihilistic rhetoric that are so common in daily discourse that they tend to be ignored and thus their destructive messages escape analysis. Each example impacts gun rights debates. Think about the word ‘tolerance.’ The concept is continuously sprinkled into our culture like croutons on a Caesar Salad. Tolerance is passed off as one of the highest virtues. Posters boasting its desirability line the hallways of our nation’s school like barnacles on a ship’s hull. What does tolerance mean? Not much. Putting up with, accepting by default, not really caring. Significantly, tolerance has unethical connotations: being passive and not making moral judgments. Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz, experienced the dark side of tolerance. He wrote: “Tolerance always favors the aggressor, never the victim.” At best, tolerance is morally neutral. At worst, it is profoundly immoral because morality demands that some things not be tolerated. Tolerance devolves into indifference and indifference devolves into aiding and abetting. Another common nihilistic phrase is ‘cycle of violence.’ It is used ad nauseum to describe the unceasing war between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as in: “It has become a cycle of violence.” The phrase is also used to justify irresponsible public safety policies. The phrase is nihilistic because it fails to acknowledge the morality of causation. It makes no moral judgment on the cause of and of the response to the violence. The phrase promotes a moral equivalence between the aggressor and victim. This ‘cycle of violence’ was the unspoken justification for the New Orleans gun confiscation. A criminal shoots a homeowner or a homeowner defending his property shoots a criminal and the cycle of violence begins. But no moral judgment is made about the original cause of the violence. It’s just a cycle. The resulting gun confiscation from the innocent homeowner imposed an immoral resolution of the initial violence. As with tolerance, it favored the aggressor, not the victim. Another common nihilistic word is ‘unity.’ Obama continuously calls for ‘unity.’ Unity can, of course, be uplifting and positive, such as was seen, for a brief period, in the United States following the savage 9-11 attacks. Beyond that, as argued persuasively by Jonah Goldberg in his epic work, Liberal Fascism, seeking unity is a form of tyrannical fascism. A demand for unity that thwarts or intimidates dissent, analysis and debate and invites attack on those that disagree is thoroughly un-American, anti-democratic and immoral. Here is an example of nihilism being directly infused into government rhetoric. An Orwellian example of almost mind-numbing proportion is the edict of Britain’s absurd Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. She ordered that Muslim violence be referred to as ‘anti-Islamic activity.’ Her reasoning is thoroughly nihilistic. Muslim violence cast Islam in a bad light, (although evidently not according to Muslims) and thus, in her twisted deductive thinking, she concluded that such violence was anti-Islamic. Lest we forget, free speech is also subverted by her command as is the moral debasement of the language. The acerbic Mark Steyn pointed out that referring to Muslim violence as an "anti-Islamic activity" is correct in the same sense that Pearl Harbor was an anti-Japanese activity. Smith, by the way, the reader may recall, is the craven politician that prohibited anti-Islamist film-maker Geert Wilders from entering Britain out of fear that unhappy Muslims might turn merry London and its suburbs into a war zone. Free speech is now handed out as discriminately as Oscar awards. Nihilism and Gun Rights
This nihilism—an attack on individual character and existence—floats like a poisonous cloud over the gun rights debates. The above discussion gives insights into the ideology at issue in court decisions such as the Heller case. In Heller, the four Supreme Court justices in the minority found a way to interpret Second Amendment history and jurisprudence to uphold the draconian yet flagrantly ineffective Washington D. C. laws. In his amicus legal brief challenging the Washington D. C. laws, the brilliant David Kopel of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colorado pointed out that before the enactment of the handgun ban, fewer than ½ of 1% of guns seized by police in the District had been lawfully registered. Accordingly, the bans on ownership of registered handguns for self defense by law-abiding people had virtually nothing to do with the legitimate government interest in crime control. Amidst all the constitutional law gibberish, these four judges (keep in mind, it was a 5-4 decision) ruled that the government’s authority to impose laws that manifestly failed to advance public safety will trump protecting the lives of moms and dads and children in their homes and apartments. Thoroughly nihilistic abstract principles were elevated above innocent life. Judges can talk about equal protection and the historical meaning of ‘a well-regulated militia’ until the moon turns into triple crème brie cheese. However, a person of intellectual and moral integrity cannot rationally argue that the Washington D. C. laws and their ilk are about advancing public safety. The person of moral integrity must acknowledge that innocent people will die as the foreseeable consequence of these intentional premeditated policies implemented by an arrogant indifferent political class. This past June 20, 2009, a uniquely satirical clay target shooting event called the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Shoot, sponsored by the Independence Institute, was held at the Kiowa Creek Sporting Clays facility in Kiowa, Colorado, about thirty miles east of Denver. Radley Balko, senior editor of Reason Magazine (theagitator.com) was one of the guest speakers. He shared a conversation he had with a Washington D.C. city councilman held after a brutal D. C. murder. Radley asked why citizens were not allowed to possess firearms even in their own homes, the councilman replied, “Do what I do. Carry a whistle.” This exchange illustrates more than ideology trumping sanity. Even a pet rock knows the whistle is useless. But being useful or effective is irrelevant to this councilman’s aggressive nihilism. The quip shows how insouciantly an entrenched political class will force its venomous whimsy on an essentially neutered population. This contempt for life seeps into much of the proposed anti-gun legislative sewage. Take the odious licensing and registration scheme in H. R. 45, known as "Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act” sponsored by U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-Ill.). Among its sordid provisions are requirements for psychological profiling before a permit for possessing a gun will be issued. Never mind that we are prohibited from profiling people who openly declare they want to slaughter us. Now government bureaucrats will determine whether someone is properly qualified to exercise a constitutional right. The hyper technical requirements of the legislation and the severity of the punishments connote a palsied mind rather than any effort at responsible policy.
Rhetoric and the Gun Control Debates
Words have consequences. Words determine credibility. Words give shape to the speaker as much as to his arguments. Words frame issues. How issues are framed can determine victory or defeat. We should not permit the anti gun politicians and their media flacks to define us. We must not permit opponents to control the rhetoric that frames gun rights issues. We must define and frame the issues. Thus, we must be scrupulous and shrewd about our rhetoric. Thomas Sowell, in his chilling article, ‘Is Talk Cheap?’ astutely observed: “Unfortunately, people on the make seem to have a keener appreciation of the power of words, as the magic road to other power, than do people defending values that seem to them too obvious to require words.” The anti-gun movement has defined gun owners as anti gun control, phallocentric hegemonic culturally insensitive too white, male, middle-class, heterosexual knuckle dragging beer swilling cousin-marrying chaps whose hairy hands (men’s and women’s) cling to bibles and guns and whose pre-post modern minds cling to religion. I disagree with that characterization. That rhetoric must be challenged, term by term, assumption by assumption. We can start by asserting that legislators such as Representative Bobby Bush are indifferent to innocent people dying. Here are ways we can use rhetoric more effectively. We should first attack the foundational premise used as the dividing marker, as if it were the River Styx, in the gun rights debate: that we are against ‘gun control’ and everyone else is for it. Nonsense! The term ‘gun control’ is a vapid ideological phrase that has become meaningless, a neutered old dog looking for any shelter. I’ll bet there is not one reader, whether or not a gun owner, that is opposed to gun control. Who wants children and mentally retarded folks and convicted murderers to own guns? Raise your hands! Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “A good catchword can obscure analysis for fifty years.” It’s time to toss aside this catchword and have some analysis. We are all in favor of gun control. That point should be woven into our rhetoric. We should not yield that rhetorical ground to opponents. We are as interested in the principle of gun control as any anti gunner. We differ on the details. We should control the rhetoric and argue the details. Similarly, I fail to see why gun control and gun rights are inherently conservative issues. They aren’t. Juxtaposing liberals versus conservatives and democrats versus republicans is a rhetorical trap that undermines the principles of gun possession and use. We should, thus, utilize appropriate rhetoric: trumpet our bi-partisanship, our willingness to cross the aisle, reach out, unify and be moderate. We must demonstrate that our positions are more likely to protect children and the aged and the defenseless. Our rhetorical message must assert with unambiguous clarity that we oppose gun control that endangers people and that we favor gun control that makes people safer. An example where sloppy rhetoric housing self-defeating arguments sprouts like crab grass is in discussions about so-called ‘assault weapons.’ The experienced trial lawyer knows that one of the most effective persuasion skills is acknowledging the strong parts of an opponent’s case. Why hand an opponent the opportunity to score cheap points against you? Concede obvious facts and truth against your case and then distinguish away the differences to persuade that your arguments, on balance, are better. This rhetoric strategy is applicable—and I think underutilized—in the assault rifle debate. Any rational person must concede that there are reasonable arguments for limiting access to assault-type weapons and not treating them as if they were hot dogs to be handed out at a football game. The assault weapon debate is a legitimate issue. Denying the reasonableness of a reasonable argument diminishes a speaker’s credibility. Foolish arguments undermine serious arguments. I state clearly: I am not taking sides in this debate. I am saying that persuasive arguments can be made by all sides. Refusing to acknowledge legitimate arguments has a quicksilver effect—the speaker’s lack of credibility in that area will taint unrelated arguments where the speaker would otherwise be credible. Another example of unhelpful rhetoric, to the point of being silly, is dusting off Thomas Jefferson’s statement, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” I confide that, as a practical matter, I don’t know what one is supposed to do in furtherance of that phrase. If you’re contemplating refreshing any trees with anyone’s blood, fuhgeddaboutit! That train has left the station a long time ago. There’s not going to be any refreshing of anything with tyrants’ blood. If you want to see what our loveable little tyrants—the youngsters you might have bought lemonade from not too many years ago—are prepared to do, by the way, in response to your blood refreshing programs, take an unhurried look at the Katrina confiscation links on the NRA website cited above. Observe how a bunch of police and national guardsmen—young men, the boys next door—walked down American streets geared up, locked and loaded, as if looking for Al Qaida cells in Mosul. One is left with the sobering reality that the fabric of civilization is very thin indeed. A speaker quoting this statement by Jefferson will, justifiably, appear foolish and lacking credibility. More useful is to offer this quote by James Madison, which expresses the dangers to individual freedom resulting from the insidious and seemingly ineluctable growth of government.
“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation”
We have only one viable option: keep our blood inside our skins and get involved in the political process. One other example of rhetorical silliness is characterizing anti-gun legislation, whether enacted or proposed, as ‘unconstitutional,’ as in “this outrageous Blair Holt legislation is unconstitutional.” This highly charged allegation may cause a tingle in our spines but as a general proposition, it draws a big yawn from the masses. At least two reasons explain why this rhetorical battle cry is ineffective: one, the audience doesn’t understand what is and what is not constitutional (Supreme Court judges can’t agree) so your opinion is meaningless; and, two, and more to the point, so what? No one can reasonably predict how a bunch of judges will decide. It is delusional to count on judges to consistently interpret the Second Amendment in a way that is favorable to gun owners. Perhaps there is a third reason why the rhetoric about constitutionality is ineffective. People don’t care about the Constitution in the real world. If a decision or situation is in harmony with their pre-existing beliefs, then they like the Constitution. If it’s not, then they don’t. Regarding gun rights, specifically, a person will favor whatever policy creates a sense, real or illusory, that he will be safer. The Constitution becomes a trivial grace note in his thoughts. The Heller dissent should convince anyone that gun rights are not secure. Publius noted in The Federalist Papers that as government gets bigger and bigger, no “parchment barrier” like the First or Second Amendment is going to prevent those in power from telling the rest of us how to live.
Making Us Weak
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb." - Benjamin Franklin
Most legislative proposals limiting gun possession and use will not make us safer. Let us understand: the laws are not intended to make us safer. Read the Blair Bolt proposed legislation. Its intention is singular: to harass and intimidate citizens to the point that they voluntarily abandon gun possession. The legislation has no other purpose. Public safety and the protection of life are irrelevant. The intention of such legislation is to weaken the will and independent spirit of the public and make us malleable. Michael Ledeen, in his essay, We Are All Fascists Now, described the big picture when he wrote: “Permitting the central government to assume our proper responsibilities is not merely a transfer of power from us to them; it does grave damage to our spirit. It subverts our national character.” Tocqueville foresaw a slow death of freedom, where people are led to surrender by the exercise of their own will. Worse than confiscating guns, these nihilistic policies—whether regarding type of ammunition, bullet marking, limited numbers of bullets permitted to be bought, not yelling for help or not being permitted to build a fence around your property—are confiscating our right to exist. The war against gun rights is as much a metaphoric war as it is one against pieces of metal and polycarbon. It is one front in the larger ideological war waged by the relativists, the appeasers, the cowards and the tyrants, and thus, it is not the most important one. Yet, losing this war against guns would have significance well beyond the physical reduction or elimination of guns. This nihilistic mindset cannot coexist with individual liberty, free speech and intellectual curiosity Nietzsche expressed the notion of “The Last Man,” an apathetic creature who has no passion or commitment, who is unable to dream, who cannot achieve greatness and who merely earns his living and keeps warm. This great nation was founded on valuing energetic, creative, risk-taking free-spirited individuals. The ever-increasing state, the Nanny State, must, by definition, destroy that kind of citizen. As the state grows and becomes more nihilistic, we citizens will increasingly give up power to the government—guns, lightbulbs, playground equipment, dodgeball in school, the kinds of cars we can drive, the kinds of words we can say, the kinds of radio programs we can listen to. The result is that the people become an annoyance. The population will not receive beneficence and empathy from the state. It will receive contempt. After all, what nanny wants the little kids to talk back and disobey? The weakened personal character will lead to a weakened national character. An instructive anecdote, and not very tangential, is seen in the op-ed piece in the Brussels newspaper De Standaard (23 October 2008) where the Dutch author Oscar Van den Boogaard said that to him coping with the Islamization of Europe is like “a process of mourning.” He is overwhelmed by a “feeling of sadness.” “I am not a warrior,” he said, “but who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.” A more insidious and concrete consequence of the erosion of individual character is seen in the murder of Anna Lindh, a prominent Swedish politician expected by many to become the next Prime Minister. She was stabbed to death in the crowded Nordiska Kompaniet department store in central Stockholm in 2003 on, perhaps painfully symbolically, September 11. There was one assailant. There were dozens of bystanders. No one intervened. They watched. No one chased down the attacker. He escaped. (He was later found). Perhaps ironic is that her death may well have been the consequence of precisely those progressive paternalistic Nanny State policies she advocated. One can reasonably ask whether these anti-individualism ideologies produced a national character that cultivated the self-absorbed morally worthless ‘last men’ that watched as she was stabbed repeatedly and then did nothing as the assailant scurried away. In his poem, “The Hollow Men,” T. S. Eliot describes the quintessential nihilistic moment: "This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper." People will watch each other die while under surveillance by government cameras.
You cannot fight or defend against what you don’t know. If strategies are to be crafted to successfully thwart or halt compromises of or the elimination of what has been historically viewed as gun rights, the involved person must understand this ideology and be able to discern it in all its forms, the obviously purulent as well as the seemingly benign. Proposals to drastically limit gun ownership and use must be analyzed not only in terms of their effectiveness but in terms of their morality. Much of the proposed anti gun legislation seeks to effectively ban firearms through a smorgasbord of regulations, restraints and bureaucratic oversight. By being oblique, the sponsors of such legislation are craven, cowardly, dishonest and unprincipled. Rhetoric crafted to fight these proposals must attack on moral grounds the predictable consequences of the policies as well as the moral character and motivation of those that sponsor and try to implement the policies. They must be held rhetorically accountable for the deaths of the innocents that will result from their legislation. We must change the terms of the discourse. This anti-individualist nihilism must be articulately attacked forcefully and without apology or ambiguity. General Douglas MacArthur gave a one-word definition of defensive warfare: defeat. The debate is only marginally about gun control. And while we may tinker at the margins on some issues, we must not lose sight of the bigger issues. We do so at our peril. The challenge is existential. It is about preventing free-spirited independent people from being reduced to infants and to dependent wards of a nihilistic state. Of course this message will never appeal to complacent people; to people that want a docile pliable population; people who want others to take care of them so they can, in part, blame others when something goes wrong. Our rhetoric must appeal to people’s strengths and to their visions and thoroughly analyze actions in terms of their morality and logic. The consequences of our arguments must be examined with moral and intellectual integrity. But when all that is done, we should justifiably be confident in our positions. Motivated by seeing where the rest of the world is heading, and dedicated to the proposition that we will not passively allow that to happen in here, we will use our words to fight against the ins