In Oklahoma

Tea-baggers tea-party supporters in Oklahoma, frustrated by recent federal legislation such as the healthcare plan, want to create an armed militia to resist the imposition of such measures in their home state.  Yes, you read that right: an armed militia.  Not everyone supports the idea.  For example, Professor Glenn Reynolds, an expert on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution (under the authority of which the militia might be legal), when asked about it, said

now, that strikes me as kind of silly.

This might, I think, qualify for understatement of the year.

But J.W. Berry, leader of the tea-bagging tea-party movement in Oklahoma – who proposed the scheme in a newsletter article entitled ‘Buy more guns, more bullets’ – thinks it is moderate and sensible.  He said,

It’s not a far-right crazy plan or anything like that.

It occurs to me to wonder: if taking up arms against the democratically-elected government of your own country when it fulfils its constitutionally-mandated role of passing laws doesn’t count as a far-right crazy plan, then what does?

It also occurs to me to wonder why Mr Berry and his associates are proposing a military solution.  If Oklahomans want to stop federal legislation being imposed on their state, the solution’s very straightforward, and it doesn’t involve the firing of a single shot, or the brandishing of a single weapon: simply pursue proceedings to secede from the Union (Oklahomans have already begun the process at least once).  Of course, seceding from the Union would have effects beyond preventing the imposition of (mildly) progressive legislation, and it may be that the tea-baggers tea-party supporters don’t want to risk those consequences, especially since some of them might prove devastating to the continued economic health of their state.

But you know what, that’s just too bad.  The United States of America is a political collective, founded on the principles of mutual self-help and support: ‘we must hang together […] else we shall most assuredly hang separately’, and all that.  Being part of a political collective carries certain advantages – increased ability to resist foreign invasion (which was what most bothered the Founding Fathers), but also economic and social benefits – but it also means accepting the will of the majority within the collective, even if you don’t share it.  If you want to dance off into a happy Libertarian world where no-one has the power to impose anything on you, then fine – but that means you are rejecting membership of the political collective, and must accept all the consequences that flow from it, the negative just as much as the positive.  This is what being a grown-up means, after all: recognising that, in some circumstances, “I want” won’t translate into “I get”, and that if you decide that the most important thing is freedom to take your own decisions, then you must freely accept all the consequences that flow from that.  Anything else is just cry-baby whining.

Of course, there is a third option, where you remain within the collective and try to persuade others to your point of view.  But, let’s face it, if your response to a disappointment is not to suggest a political campaign to unseat the legislators you disagree with, nor to suggest mass protests in the streets, nor to propose a campaign of civil disobedience, but instead to suggest to your political fellow-travellers that they stock up on ammo and prepare to shoot everyone who disagrees – well, you’re not really capable of that level of sophistication and self-control, are you?

You may wonder why, in the midst of a UK election, I am writing about US politics.  Well, it’s true, the election campaign thus far has been horribly depressing – I particularly liked the bit where the Daily Mail (in a gambit so nasty-minded and shallow it even appalled their own readers) decided that what really mattered in a grown-up discussion of the future of our country were the toes of the wife of one of the candidates – but I’ve also struggled to find anything that engages my interest.  Or, at least, I was struggling, but I’ve just come across something that does interest me – so, watch this space, as they say…

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6 Responses to In Oklahoma

  1. Katherine says:

    Ah, my homeland…

  2. gun street girl says:

    In the US our solution for just about everything is “lock and load”. It would be silly if so many people didn’t take it seriously. The people who propose this sort of thing apparently mean to shoot someone over a policy they don’t agree with. Really. Shoot someone dead. Actually dead.

    Thankfully, it IS silly and it WILL pass. The tea-baggers (I’m not so delicate as you Aethel) are getting press so they are acting out, which gets them more press, and so on. It will cycle down. Probably soon. Political theater has a very short life-span, probably because most Americans have the attention span of a flea.

  3. Kapitano says:

    This seems to follow the usual teabagger trick of saying something incendiary and insurrectionary…then winkingly saying it was a metaphor, pretending to themselves that it wasn’t. There are those who like to fight, and those who like to prepare for a fight. These look like the latter.

    I wonder how many of these people who collect and fetishise guns realise what a daft thing it is to say “lock and load”. Do these people who sleep with a gun under the pillow know you can’t lock…then load?

    I think Gun Street Girl is right – the latest teapartbaggery convention attracted a total of 5000. Considering it’s just come out that the whole teaparty notion started as a (failed) GOP fundraising trick, and how they’ve split into at least three factions who spend most of their time attacking each other, and the closest they have to a unifying figure is an idiot woman from Alaska who treats them as a meal ticket…they’re fading away.

  4. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Katherine – well, it’s only certain people in your homeland. The USA also produces it’s fair share of sensible, level-headed and nice people – such as yourself, for example. :o)

    gun street girlThe tea-baggers (I’m not so delicate as you Aethel)

    Not so much delicacy as knowing that the tea-baggers tea-party supporters really hate being known as testicular dunkers, and i figured that repeatedly drawing their attention to the fact that outsiders call their movement ‘tea-bagging’ might really annoy them. Plus, it draws everyone else’s attention to it, and we can all have a good laugh. :o)

    Thankfully, it IS silly and it WILL pass. […] It will cycle down. Probably soon.

    I agree this particular outpouring probably will simmer down pretty soon – in fact, this story is probably itself the high-water mark. But the fundamental principle – if you can call it that – underlying the sentiment will keep coming back and back, i think. People who are rejecting collectivism to this degree are essentially rejecting democracy – itself a form of collectivism – which means they will never be happy within the democratic structures of their own state, let alone the whole US. I don’t see that the sentiment is ever going to disappear until the people who express it have either died or changed their minds – and they don’t seem to be the kinds of people who are prone to changing their minds.

    But, hey, what do i know? I’m just a guy in front of a keyboard thousands of miles away. :o)

    KapitanoDo these people who sleep with a gun under the pillow know you can’t lock…then load?

    The trouble is ‘load and lock’ just doesn’t sound as good, somehow. And i have absolutely no evidence for this, but i strongly suspect that the popular version of the phrase was created by a Hollywood screenwriter who’d never been anywhere near a gun, and the sound was what mattered. :o)

    Considering it’s just come out that the whole teaparty notion started as a (failed) GOP fundraising trick, and how they’ve split into at least three factions who spend most of their time attacking each other, and the closest they have to a unifying figure is an idiot woman from Alaska who treats them as a meal ticket…they’re fading away.

    Not sure to what extent it’s ‘just come out’ – the first time i saw the movement mentioned on the news – maybe a year ago? – it was identified as having begun as a way for the Republican party to tap into the fundraising possibilities of the ‘base’ who had been rather disengaged by John McCain. I also think it’s not necessarily true that it’s a failure. As you point out, the movement seems to be peaking, or have peaked, and its adherents are never going to be Democrats, which means that the overwhelming majority of them will be safely folded back into the Republican party by the mid-terms, or the next presidential election at the latest. In the meantime, it’s succeeded in being a very powerful opposition to Barack Obama, something that the Republican party itself, so recently trounced in an election, couldn’t have managed. (I’m not saying this is what the GOP intended, btw – i don’t think they’re Machiavelian or clever enough for that – but it’s what the net effect is going to be anyway.)

    The big problem, i think, with the tea-bagging tea-party movement is that it’s always been so wide. Some people in it are out-and-out Libertarians, and hence opposed to government restrictions on things like drugs and abortion, while others are ultra-hardline authoritarian Republicans, with all that implies in terms of anti-abortion, anti-drug rhetoric. The two sides share a hard right perspective on economic matters, which has temporarily made them seem like allies, but the differences between them on other issues are so great the movement was never going to be stable in the long term. It will be interesting to see if an actual Libertarian Party emerges out of the remants of the tea-baggers tea-partyers, not least because it would be nice to know how much support the full philosophy – as opposed to just the economic aspects of it – has. I’m guessing less than 10%, for all the talk of it being the Next Big Thing in American politics.

    But, like i said to gun street girl, i’m just a guy in front of a keyboard, so what do i know? :o)

  5. The sound you are used to hearing in films is of the slide being racked on a shotgun – preparing to fire, then the gun being cocked.

  6. Sadly, my parents are part of this idiot movement. Their sole objective is to oust the Democrats and put the GOP back in charge. They truly believe that BIll Clinton destroyed America’s values and President Obama is now destroying America. They are, in short, freakin’ nuts!

    The thing that distrubs me most about the teabaggers I know is their total intolerance for anything or anyone who does not agree 100% with their politics and their religion. They take very seriously the “call to arms” and speak of a “bloodbath” in the next election… and they justify it by claiming they wish to return the nation to it’s “God fearing” roots.

    I’m thinking of immigrating to Canada!

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