The tea party and the loudest, most strident voices of anti-abortion politics love to flirt with the idea of armed revolution. This is, for the most part, just adolescent foolishness.
By pretending to believe that America is on the verge of collapse into a totalitarian tyranny, they can pretend to themselves that they are the vanguard of a courageous resistance. The Red Dawn fantasy isn't all that different from any other childhood fantasy about what if there were dragons? And what if I was brave and good and strong? And what if I slew the dragon and everybody cheered for me because I was brave and good and strong and I slew the dragon? Wouldn't that be cool?The best description of the Tea Party I've read, ever. You can read the rest of the piece and more insights HERE.
The problem arises when, finding the world sadly devoid of dragons, they decide to invent other monsters with which to do battle -- assigning the role of monster to their neighbors, their political opponents, their elected officials. Those People, they say, are monsters, demons, baby-killing Satanists, kitten-burning apologists. They're evil. They must be stopped.
This problem is further compounded by the demagogues of talk radio and cable TV who find this timid, fantasy-obsessed demographic to be a lucrative audience. Unlike other listeners or viewers, you can guarantee their loyalty by reminding them that everyone else is a monster and must be avoided. And their obsession with the thrilling fantasy of impending revolution makes it easy to sell them things -- to get them to invest in useless, inflated gold coins, for example. They present a con-man's dream -- people who will thank you for ripping them off.
The con-men and hucksters feeding off of these Red-Dawn fantasists are constantly turning up the volume, turning up the temperature, making the fantasy more and more thrilling by making the imaginary threats more and more extreme.
And, yes, that sort of thing creates a climate in which unhinged people, not appreciating the fantasy play-acting function of all of this, will inevitably arm themselves and go forth to slay the monsters -- they'll shoot doctors in churches, shoot Unitarians, shoot museum guards, the Tides Foundation, immigrants, Pittsburgh police officers, IRS offices, the Pentagon or judges, children and members of Congress.
This is not rare. This is not unusual. It has become nearly commonplace.
We all want to change the world. And we can. But it takes work, faithfulness and dedication. It's not something that can be done by adolescent fantasists just looking for the kick of imagining themselves the heroes of the bad '80s action movie playing in their heads. It's not something that can be done by people primarily interested in boosting their own self-esteem by demonizing others, obsessing over imaginary threats from imaginary monsters and thrilling themselves with daydreams in which they are revolutionary action heroes.
And so it goes.