Pitchforks and Pistols
By CHARLES M. BLOW
Lately I've been consuming as much conservative media as possible (interspersed with shots of Pepto-Bismol) to get a better sense of the mind and mood of the right. My read: They're apocalyptic. They feel isolated, angry, betrayed and besieged. And some of their “leaders” seem to be trying to mold them into militias.
At first, it was entertaining — just harmless, hotheaded expostulation. Of course, there were the garbled facts, twisted logic and veiled hate speech. But what did I expect, fair and balanced? It was like walking through an ideological house of mirrors. The distortions can be mildly amusing at first, but if I stay too long it makes me sick.
But, it's not all just harmless talk. For some, their disaffection has hardened into something more dark and dangerous. They're talking about a revolution.
Some simply lace their unscrupulous screeds with loaded language about the fall of the Republic. We have to “rise up” and “take back our country.” Others have been much more explicit.
For example, Chuck Norris, the preeminent black belt and prospective Red Shirt, wrote earlier this month on the conservative blog WorldNetDaily : “How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution?”
Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, imagining herself as some sort of Delacroixian Liberty from the Land of the Lakes, urged her fellow Minnesotans to be “ armed and dangerous ,” ready to bust caps over cap-and-trade, I presume.
And between his tears, Glenn Beck, the self-professed “ rodeo clown ,” keeps warning of an impending insurrection by saying that he believes that we are heading for “depression” and “revolution” and then gaming out that revolution on his show last month. “Think the unthinkable” he said. Indeed.
All this talk of revolution is revolting, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.
As the comedian Bill Maher pointed out , strong language can poison weak minds, as it did in the case of Timothy McVeigh. (We sometimes forget that not all dangerous men are trained by Al Qaeda.)
At the same time, the unrelenting meme being pushed by the right that Obama will mount an assault on the Second Amendment has helped fuel the panic buying of firearms. According to the F.B.I., there have been 1.2 million more requests for background checks of potential gun buyers from November to February than there were in the same four months last year. That's 5.5 million requests altogether over that period; more than the number of people living in Bachmann's Minnesota.
Coincidence? Maybe. Just posturing? Hopefully. But it all gives me a really bad feeling. (Where's that Pepto-Bismol?!)
April 4, 2009 Op-Ed Columinst
New York Times