As violent protests have dragged on for months in places like Portland, Seattle, New York, and Chicago, the Left has found itself struggling to find messaging that appeals to the majority of Americans, who may be on board with things like police reform, but haven’t shown much appetite to defund law enforcement or abolish agencies completely. Even in Washington State, a new poll shows support for defunding the police tops out at about 33% of those surveyed, though about twice that many say they back moving some police funds to things like officer training or mental health assistance.
The American people may be in a mood for reform, but not for revolution, yet that’s exactly what the violent demonstrators are demanding. In their world, Donald Trump is a fascist, DHS employees are storm troopers, and they’re the valiant and brave French resistance, only without the guns. Maybe that’s why the new argument on the Left is that gun owners should put on their black berets and man the barricades with their unarmed comrades.
Stand-up comedian Pardis Parker provided a tongue-in-cheek example of this argument in the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times, where he urged the NRA to join with the anarchists, Antifa-types, and others who want to burn it all down in order to build on the ashes.
For years you warned us that the right to bear arms was necessary to the security of a free State, to safeguard against tyrannical government, and to ward off “jack-booted government thugs” with the “power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.”
And for years we criticized you, thinking tyranny unlikely.
But we were wrong.
And now we need you and your well-regulated militia.
Unmarked troops in unmarked vans are preying on citizens who are exercising the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
As you yourselves have lamented, “not too long ago, it was unthinkable for federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens.”
And yet here we are. With that reality before us. Unable to protect ourselves from this violent oppressor.
First of all, I don’t think Parker really believes he was wrong to criticize gun owners for fearing tyranny. I’m also convinced that Parker knows we’re not actually living under tyranny right now either. It’s just another attempt by the Left to try to co-opt support for their agenda by appealing to a cause that enjoys much more widespread approval, and Parker’s not alone in his attempts to persuade America’s gun owners to join the cause.
Vanderbilt University’s Amy Cooter, a lecturer in sociology, makes many of the same arguments as Parker, though with slightly less snark.
Militias and many other Second Amendment advocates have long argued that their primary desire to own firearms – often, many of them – is rooted in a need to protect themselves and their families from a tyrannical federal government, or to discourage the government from becoming tyrannical in the first place.
But with the mayor of a major U.S. city warning that “tyranny and dictatorship” have already arrived on the streets – in the shape of unidentified federal troops using questionable tactics – militia groups appear reluctant to throw their lot in with protesters. In fact, many have been supporting government action to suppress peaceful demonstrators.
Let’s stop there for a moment. That mayor that Cooter cites is none other than Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, who did indeed warn that “tyranny and dictatorship” is here, but then turned around and welcomed an influx of federal law enforcement officers to help tackle the rising violent crime on Chicago’s streets. If Lightfoot truly believed that Donald Trump was a dictator, I have a hard time believing that she’d be on board with the DOJ bringing Operation LeGend to town.
Cooter goes on to say that while some gun owners may actually be backing the demonstrators, “there are still militia members who support the police.”
That’s not the way they see it. They argue that one of the few legitimate functions of the federal government is to protect citizens from others who might infringe on their rights or safety. They support police who say that Portland authorities have failed to protect regular people from violent protesters.
I can only speak for myself, but I simply don’t think that what’s taking place in Portland is an example of government tyranny. You want to see what tyranny looks like? Go to Hong Kong, where pro-democracy leaders are facing years in prison; not because they tried to set fire to a courthouse with a Molotov cocktail, but because they are advocating for independence.
Four students have been arrested in Hong Kong in the first police operation to enforce China’s new national security law for the territory.
The four were detained for “inciting secession” on social media after the new law began on 1 July, police said.
A pro-independence group said those arrested included its former leader, Tony Chung.
Beijing’s controversial new law criminalises subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces.
Previous arrests under the new law have been made for slogans and banners at protests.
Arrested for banners and signs, not bricks and explosive devices. That’s tyranny. And unlike the protesters in Portland, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong won’t see any entertainers or academics speak out publicly in defense of their rights, because there is no free press in China. Here in the supposedly tyrannical United States, the opinion pages of virtually every newspaper published contains criticism of President Trump on a daily basis. Two of the major cable news outlets depend on opposition to the president to generate ratings (though in the case of CNN, it’s not working out too well).
You know how you know you’re not living under a tyrant? You can write a letter to the Chicago Sun-Times calling the president a tyrant and nothing happens to you. There’s no knock on the door at 3 a.m. by the secret police. There’s no risk that you’re going to be sent off to a re-education camp in North Dakota to do hard labor and think about your mistakes for a decade or longer. There’s no state-run media that will cancel your show because you upset the president. You won’t even damage your “social credit” score by insulting the president on live TV. If anything, it will only enhance your status as an influencer.
Not only are we not living under tyranny, the violent demonstrators in Portland are the aggressors here. They’re the ones setting the city on fire, not the police. They’re the ones trying to burn down the federal courthouse, not police. Parker and Cooter completely ignore the fact that federal law enforcement was called out to Portland in response to violent demonstrations, not to create them.
Oh, I know, I know. Donald Trump is running as the “law and order” candidate, so he sent “federal troops” to Portland to start trouble, knowing that the protesters wouldn’t be able to stop themselves from escalating their violence in response. Why’d they try to blind police officers with lasers? “It’s not our fault,” they cry. “The orange devil made us do it!” The great thing about collectivism is you don’t have to take individual responsibility for your actions, at least until the collectivists actually end up in charge (then you get sent to the gulag for slacking on your job, but that’s another story altogether).
I won’t say we’re a long way from tyranny, but we’re clearly not there yet, and we ever do end up there the Left is at least as likely to be the side to impose it as the Right. What really concerns me most at the moment is that I get the feeling that guys like Pardis Parker would be just fine with tyranny, as long as he was on the side with power. Of course, I’m sure he’d say the same thing about me as well. I guess we’ll have to wait to see who ends up as the camper and who gets to be the counselor when we both end up in the re-education camp.