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Modern Democratic ‘Fire-Eaters’

The outrageous rhetoric and threats coming from some Democrats demonstrate the necessity of the Second Amendment.

by
Clayton E. Cramer

Bio

February 2, 2013 - 12:25 am

In the period immediately before the Civil War, the most ferocious rhetoric came out of the mouths of Southern Democrats who were soon known as “fire-eaters.” They got that nickname because of the strength of their rhetoric in support of slavery and their willingness to talk about secession as a response to the possibility of abolitionists gaining influence in Congress, and even winning the White House.  The louder and more ferocious speeches they gave, the stronger the abolitionist position seemed to become.

Today, we again have Democratic fire-eaters whose violent rhetoric is strengthening the support enjoyed by their opponents.  First it was a statement by Professor Erik Loomis at the University of Rhode Island, saying that he wanted “Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.”  Okay, maybe that was just hyperbolic rhetoric, intended as a figure of speech. Now, we have a far less figurative statement by Donald Kaul in the Des Moines Register:

Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. (I would also raze the organization’s headquarters, clear the rubble and salt the earth, but that’s optional.) Make ownership of unlicensed assault rifles a felony. If some people refused to give up their guns, that “prying the guns from their cold, dead hands” thing works for me.

Is that clear enough for you? He is declaring his desire to see millions of Americans killed to support his goals, while at the same time making membership in a peaceful organization a criminal matter.

It gets worse: “Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.” I remember a few years ago an incident where several criminals in Texas did something like that to a black man; it is obvious who Kaul sees as his role models. Donald Kaul thinks that disagreeing with him about a political matter justifies torturing someone to death.

Now, if this was simply one raving kook, or two raving kooks bloviating on obscure websites, I suppose we could ignore it.  But Kaul’s demand for criminalizing membership in an advocacy group and proposal to torture people to death for disagreeing with him was published not in an obscure lunatic fringe location, but in a serious daily newspaper: the Des Moines Register.  We can reasonably infer that the editorial staff of that newspaper considered this a perfectly respectable idea as part of the national conversation about gun control. (Imagine what the reaction would be if a conservative newspaper had published an opinion piece calling for abortion-rights advocates to be dragged behind a pickup truck, and for membership in NARAL to be made a criminal matter, in response to a similarly horrifying public tragedy.)

I have a few friends who have of late developed some fairly paranoid ideas that our government is run by to totalitarian thugs intent on suppressing all dissent and creating a police state. Reading something as repugnant as Donald Kaul’s column in a respectable daily newspaper makes me start to wonder if they are paranoid or simply better in touch with the ferocious hatemongering of today’s Democratic fire-eaters. Kaul’s willingness to advocate a totalitarian society and his obvious enthusiasm for mass murder and torture, and the Des Moines Register‘s willingness to print it, make me even more appreciative of the wisdom behind the Second Amendment: there needs to be some popular restraint on this sort of bloodthirsty progressivism.

At this point, you might compare Kaul’s call for confiscation and killing to the insurrectionist argument for the Second Amendment. There is one great difference: the insurrectionist argument is always presented as a horrible last resort in response to tyranny. You will not see any responsible newspaper publish the insurrectionist argument for the Second Amendment with the clear bloodlust of Prof. Loomis or Donald Kaul.  Loomis and Kaul are clearly looking forward to a bloodbath. The louder they demand torture and murder to satisfy their emotional needs, the more Americans will be arming in self-defense.

Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.
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