But a problem remains. Right now, that violent fringe is being catered to in the extreme by the mainstream of the Republican party and the conservative movement, so much so that it is beginning to be difficult to tell the difference. They are being told that President Obama is a tyrant intend on taking their guns. They are being told that America is dying because of government spending. That Obama plans on opening large reeducation camps. That he is a terrorist, a muslim, a radical black Christian. That he is a fascist. That is both exploiting the violent fringe and empowering them.
I want to try a little non-confrontational parsing here, paying particular attention to a couple of the charges.
They are being told that President Obama is a tyrant intent on taking their guns.
I stipulate that President Obama has supported--at most and in some unspecified time in the future--the re-institution of the assault weapons ban, new ammunition taxes and (if I recall correctly) a requirement for micro-stamping, and that while I do not agree with them, none of them are confiscationist.
But here's the problem: there is a legitimate case to be made that the election of President Obama has empowered those with a confiscationist agenda, and he has not repudiated it.
Former President Jimmy Carter advocating mandatory registration of all firearms, which is a necessary pre-requisite for any confiscation program.
A series of pending bills in the New York legislature that include at least two (A.3211a and A.7733) that mandate new powers of gun confiscation to the State of New York. [We can argue over the merits of each of these bills, quite legitimately, but it is not disputable that both would give the State the ability to confiscate certain weapons from those who have acquired them legally and are not accused of any crime.]
In Milwaukee, despite the State Attorney General re-affirming the right of Wisconsin citizens to open carry, the Police Chief says he won't follow the law, that he'll order his officers to confiscate such weapons on sight:
“My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it,” Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.
Again, we can argue the merits of open carry, but if the Attorney General says This is the law, and the Police Chief says he will take the gun away, that's confiscationist language.
Then there's HR 45, which makes it illegal to own any non-antique handgun or semi-automatic weapon capable of accepting a magazine without a Federal firearms license, and gives American citizens only 2 years to come in and register all their weapons or become potential felons. In other words: there is legislation in the House criminalizing currently legal possession of firearms.
So DD, while it is a stretch to say that President Obama is going to take their guns, there really ARE people out there with a confiscationist agenda, and--elections do matter--his election has definitely strengthened the hand of confiscationists. Therefore, for people to argue that Obama supports a confiscationist agenda is, frankly, not even a huge distortion by the lax modern standards of political discourse in this country today.
They are being told that America is dying because of government spending. Reasonable people can differ on this one, obviously, but that rhetoric itself--while again hyperbolically over the top--is not inherently unconscionable or beyond the pale of things said by mainstream politicians about their opponents over the past three decades.
The re-education camps? I agree with you. In fact, during March 2009 I dedicated an extensive post to thoroughly debunking the entire concept and condemning those who spread the lie.
Terrorist, muslim, black radical Christian... None of them true, OK. But neither was it ever proven that Dubya had suppressed cocaine convictions, that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist, that the Feds had foreknowledge of 9/11 [hello Howard Dean]. As A1 points out: both sides play to their fringes....
That he is a fascist ... or a socialist for that matter. Inaccurate? Stipulated. Unprecedented in modern American political rhetoric. Hardly.
In other words, DD, I would agree with you on the re-education camps bit without reservation--to the extent you can find me mainstream GOP political leaders harping on it.
The gun confiscation argument is, regrettably, well enough founded to have legitimacy, even if it is often advanced in hyperbolic terms. It has about the same credibility as Jimmy Carter's assertion that only people interested in killing children, co-workers, and police officers want to own so-called assault weapons. Tell me, DD, would you go with me that former President Carter's rhetoric is not responsible?
But even if I granted you that one, what bothers me is that you lump in extreme resistance to taxation and government spending not as acceptable political discourse (even if you thing it's both wrong and foolish), but as the equivalent of passing around ludicrous rumors about re-education camps and police officers shooting your dogs as they break into your house to take your guns.
In other words: in my opinion your brush is so broad that it not only (a) erodes your own credibility, but (b) makes you part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Law enforcement should be in the business of tracking and stopping real violent extremists.
It has absolutely no business producing documents that editorialize on which political opinions are acceptable.
[A final note: maybe you didn't like my snarky post on the Handmade Militia, but I think you missed my larger point. In the current political environment, picture a lone young Missouri State Trooper on a rainy night, who sees a van speed by him with a bumpersticker that reads Handmade Militia. He's read the MIAC Militia Movement report, and has been warned that militia images on vehicles is a pretty sure indicator of potentially violent inhabitants. Congratulations: we've just raised the chances that a bunch of left-over children of the sixties carting around several cartons of macrame potholders are going to have a very bad experience....]