Gun Nuts and the People Who Support Them
Frank Rich's Sunday column in The New York Times is called "The Guns of August," which was the title of Barbara Tuchman's 1962 account of the beginnings of World War I, which was a favorite book of Pres. Kennedy. He gave copies to the prime minister of England and the U.S. ambassador to France, among others.
Rich's column is less about the long and intricate European windings to war than about the same homegrown violence—the culture of it and the cultivation of it—that led to Pres. Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. It's about American gun nuts and the people who support them. Not just the bigmouths of Fox News and far-right radio but elected officials such as Sen. Tom Coburn (R, Ok.), who, when asked if he was troubled by the rising threats against the U.S. government, blamed the government:
“Well, I’m troubled any time when we stop having confidence in our government,” the senator said, “but we’ve earned it.”
Rich reminds us that Coburn did the same thing in supporting the Barr amendment to the Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Act of 1995. He said people in this country were worried more about their own government than terrorism:
Terrorism in this country obviously poses a serious threat to us as a free society. It generates fear. But there is a far greater fear that is present in this country, and that is fear of our own Government. We should not further that fear. We should not do anything to promote further lack of confidence in our own Government. Public officials must recognize that our citizens fear not only terrorism, but our Government as well.
Then there was Rep. Phil Gingrey (R, Ga.) who told Chris Matthews on MSNBC that he saw no reason to discourage citizens from carrying unconcealed weapson to public debates about health insurance. In fact, he seemed to encourage it. He seemed to revel in it.
Rich is worried and so am I. He's worried that Pres. Obama is compromising too much with forces that don't compromise and so am I. But mostly he's worried about the rise in the rhetoric of violence and so am I.
I wish I could say something insightful about all of this but I've got nothing. Thoughts are welcome.