When do we take up arms against an oppressor? Such is the troubling question our Founding Fathers answered with muskets in April 1775 and in the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. Such is the troubling question David Newquist takes up in his latest blog post, which discusses ignorant and anti-intellectual Trumpism in the historical context of the Holocaust and Black Lives Matter.
Newquist points to a new NRA ad that encourages people to join the gun-rights lobbying group by saying we liberals and leftists “assassinate real news” and “bully and terrorize the law-abiding” with a “violence of lies.” Vox explains the obvious call to arms:
It’s not hard to figure out what the narrative is here. A liberal insurgency is destroying American society. The “only way” to protect yourself from this surge in left-wing violence (a made-up threat, to be clear) is to donate to the NRA — an organization that exists solely to help people buy guns [Zack Beauchamp, “This Chilling NRA Ad Calls on Its Members to Save America by Fighting Liberals,” Vox, 2017.06.29].
Newquist says such absolutist rhetoric leaves him wondering we should respond by leaving America, boycotting certain businesses, or resorting to violence:
People in America of differing politics, creeds, and ethnic groups don’t like each other very much. Their dislike is sparked by defamations in the social media and confirmed by reports of behavior of fellow humans in the traditional press. Violence by mass shooters, shootings of unarmed people by the police, shootings of the police by ambush, and menacing insults spewed out by the president all contribute to a sense that people have to make a decision. And that decision is whether it is time to walk away from America, make economic decisions on the basis of politics, or stand their ground and resist with violence. Or choose all three, so that history will not need to ask why they didn’t resist [David Newquist, “Voting with Feet, Billfolds, and Guns,” Northern Valley Beacon, 2017.07.05].
I’m ready to boycott any business that supports tyranny or anti-intellectualism. Much as I would enjoy putting my French to daily use, I’m a long way from taking up President Emmanuel Macron’s ballsy invitation to come to France and Make Our Planet Great Again.
As for violence, I will never take up arms except as a last resort against oppressors who themselves have given up on civil discourse and resorted to violence against me.
Democracy and discourse can still work. In America, democracy and discourse are the only acceptable means for resolving our differences of policy and principle.