January 31, 2013
Trusting Your Own Government (or Not)By John Harvey
Earlier this month, Geraldo Rivera asked a caller: "How could you not trust your own government?"
Putting aside big and little episodes of untrustworthy government in the history of this country like the Trail of Tears, the internment of Americans of Japanese descent, Kent State, Waco, Fast and Furious, and the Benghazi Coverup, Rivera implies the burden of proof lies with the skeptical citizen when it comes to trust. But his question only diverts our attention. The issue isn't the relative peace in the body politic at this instant. The question Geraldo asks really goes to the heart of the very nature of our government.
History is full of governments that ran sufficiently amok that they become a mortal danger to their own citizens. Such governments did not last. Indeed, the last century was so full of episodes of different governments murdering their own citizens by deliberate official policy that it spawned a new word: democide.
Many in the media and academia who largely reject American Exceptionalism want us to believe instead that our government is exceptional in light of the history of governments. In how easily they dismiss the Second Amendment as being obsolete, they are telling us that there are no circumstances whatsoever in which some future American government would ever turn feral. They are willing to stake the lives of their children and grandchildren on that assertion.
Certainly people want a trustworthy and competent government. But it concerns me that more than one member of the president's inner circle has publicly praised China's Mao, a man responsible for the brutal deaths of over 40 million Chinese citizens. I am shocked that a close advisor to the president has favorably quoted Mao's warning that [political] power comes from the barrel of a gun. It is chilling to see a Mao-themed ornament on a White House Christmas tree, or the number of supporters of this administration who also voice approval of the murderous Che Guevara. It is incongruous that a man who was a leader of a group of radical socialists who contemplated murdering 25 million Americans should they reject postrevolutionary ideological reeducation is now a frequent visitor to the White House.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security is busy stockpiling two billion rounds of hollow point pistol ammunition. The very government that Geraldo implies we must trust is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a contingency plan that cannot be explained by any current trends. The shocking implied question is not only who does DHS intent to shoot, but under what circumstances? Even if this plan devoted 100 rounds to each anticipated target, two billion rounds implies violent action by government against 20 million of its 310 million citizens. Is this the same 20 or so million the Weather Underground leader who now visits the White House anticipated needing to eliminate?
How should we rationally evaluate these facts? As disconnected random coincidences or as a glimpse of the plans of those in power and those who cheer them on? As long as the relationship between public servants and the public they serve is healthy, then we all can enjoy the blessings of liberty, which was the core reason the federal government was formed over 200 years ago.
But what happens when the public servant starts to think he is the public master instead?
Nobody can predict how a future government might endanger our own descendants by running amok. For example, what social, political, or legal forces exist today that would stop another Trail of Tears that were not sufficient to stop it the first time? Certainly firearms aren't the answer to every outrage, or even most. Even though we are all civilized and strive to be peaceful and polite to everyone, we cannot allow the precious right to keep and bear arms to be crippled with my generation, any more than we could allow the right of free speech to be crippled. Our future grandchildren might curse us for neglecting to preserve the very tools they might need most during some urgent crisis in their lives, even though no learned member of the news media could possibly envision such a thing at this moment.
The philosopher Karl Popper offers us some guidance. In Volume 2 of his The Open Society and Its Enemies, he wrote:
"...the use of violence is justified only under a tyranny which makes reforms without violence impossible, and it should have only one aim, that is, to bring about a state of affairs which make reforms without violence possible."
Can a government whose bureaucracy carefully hoards 2 billion rounds of ammunition in a country of some 310 million citizens be trusted to plan to implement "reforms" without violence? Only oppressive socialist governments attempt such agendas. It is more commonly called "reeducation." How does Geraldo's question relate to such a plan, indeed to a government potentially with this manner of plan? Because it is not the duty of any democratic government to reform citizens, is the rational "contingency" being planned for that too many citizens will refuse to comply with government edicts that are yet to be made public?
Americans reached this point at one time in the history of the land they settled when the edicts of the government of England became too injurious and offensive at too many levels. Are we, who always put on our seat belts lest we have a crash, and avoid trans-fats lest we get clogged arteries, who always brush and floss, and who always do so many other things to avoid all the little and rare risks of life, are we not going to think for one moment that the government we depend upon to do its job competently, will never acquire a different attitude about what its job is and who is in charge? That government could never have an authoritarian seizure, or tell us one thing when its leaders intend on something entirely different, or even decide that it had the power to sterilize or assassinate its own citizens, or just take their children away for flimsy reasons or think it actually needed to use some of those rounds it is stockpiling -- that this could never, ever happen in all history to come?
I find it ironic that a British subject, in the form of a smug CNN anchor, is artfully scolding and lecturing American guests on his show about their support for the right to keep and bear arms. I recall a time when the finest award-winning journalists of their time, like the New York Time's own Walter Duranty, could not bring themselves to report that Stalin was deliberately starving millions of Ukrainian farmers to death as an act of government policy. Did Duranty and the Times choose to dissemble because they believed they were serving a higher cause at the time? Do members of the media lie about firearms because they are serving a higher cause today? And when some future government they support runs wild and thousands (or millions) die, how will the media report it? The same way they glowingly talk about the exploits of Che Guevara or Bill Ayers, whom they tell us is just a neighbor of the current president?
In related news, the UK Telegraph carried a story on January 25, 2013 concenring Google Earth satellite photos of North Korea's vast system of political prison camps and prison cities. The paper reports, "Inmates -- who can be imprisoned for life, along with three generations of their families, for anything deemed to be critical of the regime -- are forced to survive by eating rats and picking corn kernels out of animal waste..."
And Israel National News reports that a new exhibit opened at Yad Vashem to mark 2013 Holocaust Memorial Day: "...the exhibit represents only an example of more than 71,000 items donated by thousands of people over the last two years as a way of perpetuating the memory of relatives who perished during the Holocaust...."
Photo credit: Creative Commons