America’s ideological landscape is like the continent itself: transected by deep fault-lines at the irregular boundaries of rigid plates. Though crushed tightly together, these great masses seek to move in different directions, and so they strain relentlessly against one another. The pressure builds, and builds — until, sooner or later, it must release itself in a destructive convulsion. In the weeks following the Newtown massacre, it has suddenly become clear that one of these fault-lines is under particularly dangerous stress.

Since Newtown, gun sales have rocketed as Americans, anticipating severe restrictions, rush to arm themselves while they still can. It seems that their concerns are amply justified, as executives prepare to act at the state and local level: New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, is expected to announce major new gun-control initiatives in his State of the State address tonight, and Joe Biden today hinted darkly about “executive orders” from the White House.

In announcing Biden’s remarks today, Matt Drudge provocatively accompanied his banner headline with photographs of Hitler and Stalin:



To those on one side of the fault-line, this is paranoid, inflammatory hysteria. To the rest of us, however, it is a reminder that the most profligate killers in modern history have not been private citizens, but their governments. As Hitler explained: “History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so.”

A great many Americans are keenly aware of this, as were the nation’s founders. They consider themselves not subjects, but free citizens of a republic of their own making. They will consent, within limits, to be governed, but they will not be ruled. And they will not surrender their arms.

The plates press and moan and grumble. The water in the wells is rising, and muddy. Dogs and cats fidget restlessly. Farm animals are balky and skittish. Migraines are up sharply, and radios are on the fritz.

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  1. the one eyed man says

    I live about two miles from the San Andreas fault, and I always toss a quarter in whenever I pass by. I think it is important to be generous to a fault.

    Last weekend, I saw two guys manning an Impeach Obama table, festooned by posters of Obama with the obligatory Hitler mustache. As I walked by, one of the guys ejaculated “Are we gonna impeach the schmuck?” Hilarity ensued.

    Since two guys at a card table can’t compete with the Drudge Report, today’s Godwin’s Law Award goes to Matt Drudge.

    Posted January 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Yeah, I guess he earned it. Yesterday’s went to Alex Jones.

    Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  3. the one eyed man says

    Apparently Jones’s rant was too much for Glenn Beck, who called him crazy. Like Donald Trump accusing someone of publicity-seeking buffoonery.

    Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Well, Alex Jones is hardly the person we need to have out there making the case. Crafty of Piers Morgan to have him on; it made him look like the sensible party — in stark contrast to PM’s bullying and shouting down of John Lott, who is a quiet, rational man, well-armed (so to speak) with volumes of data and a cogent argument.

    Posted January 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
  5. Back in my liberal naivete, I couldn’t comprehend why anyone would object to strict control of guns. I honestly didn’t understand why so many Americans were adamant to have them and to keep them. Every time the issue was being discussed in my presence, I would ask for a reasonable explanation, which was never forthcoming.

    Finally, and only quite recently, I came to understand that the foremost prerequisite for establishing tyranny, such as in the big three of the 20th century (Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Communist China), was disarming the populace.

    Posted January 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink
  6. Somewhat off topic, but I think relevant to the overarching theme of many threads in this blog: what are the expected consequences of either side being wrong in the struggle between the two worldviews that divide our society?

    I submit that the principal outcome in this tectonic clash is predictable. If the conservative view is wrong but prevails, then our society will continue to endure a less than optimum lifestyle, though arguably far ahead of whatever is in second place.

    If, however, the progressives are wrong but prevail, we are doomed to experience a very unpleasant journey in an uncomfortable hand-basket.

    Posted January 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink
  7. JK says

    Just sayin’ and in my humble opinion, Joe “Malarky” Biden isn’t a guy who’s proclamatin’ is gonna be getting my skivvies all twisted up. On this subject, that is, bandying around about issuing an Executive Order should only be viewed as Joe being Joe.

    Of course since Joe is mumbling “we must do something” and it’s in the context of gun ownership it can’t accomplish much other than high dudgeon on the one hand and false hope on the other.

    Political theater.

    Henry? I don’t expect either of us to be around (my feeling is these American cycles take about 70 years to shake out) but I sort of think our Republic will recover it’s footing. My reckoning says we’re in about year 40.

    I am not saying however Henry, that should the two of us find ourselves sitting around in lawn chairs on the same cloud thirty years from now – we’ll recognize who we should be dropping our empty bottles on.

    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:15 am | Permalink
  8. I’ll drink to that, JK.

    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink
  9. TheBigHenry’s Law of Tectonics: An Obama proposition demands prudent opposition.


    Posted January 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink