“Throw in that the liberals are destroying our Constitution! Claim that they are taking away our freedoms!”
Yeah, that’s the ticket.
In short order, in a few dozens of months, the Constitution has become the rallying cry around which mostly middle-aged, fairly uneducated white men have danced to the tune of the Right Power elite.
The Constitution has taken on nearly a sacred aura. It is akin to scripture, on the level of the Bible or the Qur’an, the Upanishads, or other religious texts. One expects to find people kneeling before it in the Rotunda, whispering the holy of holies, the Words of the very gods themselves.
Indeed, talk to any TeaBagger, and no doubt you will hear that it is God-inspired at the very least, as were the *hush* Founding Fathers, revered as the Apostles of the American Way of Life.
Reading the document in the hollowed halls of Congress, the Republicans saw fit to omit the embarrassing parts, like when our Apostles considered that Africans were only 3/5 of a person, or our stumbling attempt to regulate morals through abstention from alcohol.
But, I am not here to say the document is somehow not important. No, indeed no way. It is and remains perhaps humanity’s best attempt to set up a government that was just and fair. And the wording was just general enough, just open enough, to allow for growth over the centuries.
But, alas, all is in the interpretation is it not? And the Extremist Right, much like any good fundamentalist, reads it like they wish it meant and not how it was meant. Laughably the Tea Baggers groan that our “rights are being eroded” when if anything they have been expanded as the 4th amendment has until recently been enlarged to encompass things unthought of by the Founders.
Similarly, there is an implied right to privacy that has given people new rights to be left alone in areas of sexual matters and others. Curious that TeaBaggers, who decry our loss of rights, want this one deeply restricted.
As events unfold after the Tucson shootings, we see that there in all likelihood will be no tightening of gun control in this country. Pete King’s offering, to protect elected officials in Washington has been squashed by his party already. Other, more broad offerings appear to be faring no better.
Democrats seem resigned on the issue, the public for reasons that are unfathomable, want even more guns. Arizona legislators suggest they see no reason to back off continuing efforts to expand the right to acquire and carry weapons in their state.
All this is most curious. Jill Lepore, in the New Yorker, has an extraordinarily detailed piece on the Constitution. Including much history and interesting antidotes, she close-ups the 2nd Amendment.
From its inception up until the 1970’s! no one, liberal or conservative, seriously thought the amendment applied to anything other than the right of states to establish militias. Indeed, because of tightening gun law legislation, following the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the NRA for the first time, interjected itself into politics with the then novel argument that the 2nd Amendment was an individual right to bear arms.
Think about that. Today, people like Senator Schumer, (D-NY) say on Meet the Press, that it is after all, “clear that the Constitution gives an individual right to bear arms.” Anyone who suggests otherwise is branded stupid.
To be sure, there are differences of opinion and always will be. But historians generally agree that the right was not intended for individuals. Lawyers see the issue a bit differently, but still, the general consensus was, up to the 70’s at least, that it was a state’s right’s issue, involving a militia.
I am and have been dumbfounded that one organization can have a stranglehold on this debate to the point that Democrats are even afraid to discuss it. The NRA is able to control the dialog perfectly. Any proposed law, no matter how rational (eliminating sale of automatic weapons and large clips for instance) are infringements on sportsperson’s enjoyment of their hobby and the beginning of a slippery slope, leading to confiscation.
Every major episode like Tucson, is met with a run on gun stores for the weapon of choice, sure that the government will ban the weapon. One crazed person on a comment, said that the gun laws were “so restrictive that only crazy people could get guns” and that everyone knows that a well armed countries have the “lowest crime rates.” The deluded of course are wrong on both counts. This is just how crazy the conversation has become. This is how knee-jerk the reaction to any reasonable legislation pro-offered.
I am at a loss, since our legislators seem unwilling to even address the issue. Any ideas?
Wikipedia (a particularly thorough examination)
- Giffords Attack Makes Joke of Gun Control: Roger Lowenstein (businessweek.com)
- What the “right to bear arms” really means (salon.com)