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US gun nuts said they needed firearms to resist tyranny. When it came, they cheered

Danielle Ryan
Danielle Ryan

is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ

is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ

US gun nuts said they needed firearms to resist tyranny. When it came, they cheered
A prevailing argument made by ardent pro-gun conservatives in the United States is that a heavily armed citizenry is imperative lest the need arise to fight government tyranny – but when that tyranny came, they cheered in support.

Gun-rights debates in the US invariably involve pro-gun evangelists invoking the Second Amendment right to bear arms as the highest safeguard of American liberty. A citizen militia, they say, will preserve freedom and democracy because the people can rise up in arms (literally) to keep authoritarian tendencies at bay.

There are reams of evidence and data pointing to the fact that this argument is false and preservation of democracy does not, in fact, rely on high civilian gun ownership – but, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that those who proffer this pro-guns-everywhere reasoning actually wholeheartedly believe in it.

With that assumption, we would expect to see equal levels of disgust and anger over the events of the past week from both the left and the right. Pro-civil liberty conservatives would put their politics aside and be appalled by the treatment of their fellow Americans. Witnessing out-of-control state violence, they would surely call on protesters to take up arms against the tyrannical regime. After all, that’s what the Second Amendment was intended for, right?

But, of course, that’s not how it happened at all. When Donald Trump stood in the White House Rose Garden on Monday evening and threatened to unleash the full force of the US military on American citizens, many of his supporters applauded and extolled his “leadership” skills. This reaction, if nothing else, proves that their ‘opposition’ to government tyranny is paper thin, purely conditional and party political. 

The rest of the world has been watching in horror as US police plow into peaceful protesters, teargas kneeling and non-violent demonstrators, hit journalists with rubber bullets, fire flash-bang grenades into crowds that include children, arrest people merely for speaking, and beat others to a bloody pulp – all on camera.

Those of us who call out the hypocrisy of people who claim to support individual rights and small government are met with the argument that Trump’s threats and police actions are justified to deal with rioting and looting. The retort to those condemning police thuggery and Trump’s handling of the crisis generally sounds something like this: “Yeah, well we aren’t looting and setting things on fire!”

This is a straw-man argument offered for the purposes of deflecting the conversation away from police brutality and shifting the focus off imperative discussions about the systemic racism and injustice at the root of US society.

In reality, anyone who has been closely observing the unrest of recent days will be fully aware that militarized police forces are responding with overwhelming force and violence to peaceful protesters – not simply the fringe groups of rioters and looters, who have been garnering a disproportionate amount of media attention.

Adding to the irony, many of the conservative commentators who have thrown their support behind the police in recent days would be the first to condemn governments in Venezuela, Iran or China and to call for swift regime change for less.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brilliantly demonstrated the fraud at the core of American exceptionalism ideology on Tuesday when he had the audacity to criticize China for denying Hong Kong protesters “a voice” while US police forces continued to run roughshod over the constitution for the entire world to witness.

A particularly disturbing video, supposedly recorded in Compton on Tuesday night, shows three police officers beating the crap out of a man behind a wall, with one placing his knee on the man’s neck – the same tactic that led to George Floyd’s tragic death.

Recall that it was only weeks ago that protests against temporary measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 drew hundreds of angry right-wing demonstrators, some heavily armed, to the Michigan state capitol. One can only imagine the police reaction if hundreds of gun-toting black men showed up at a state capitol with threatening signs, demanding “Let us in! Let us in!” 

For these anti-tyranny activists, it appears being asked nicely to wear a protective face mask and refrain from going shopping for a few weeks is dictatorship, but denial of basic First Amendment rights is just dandy.

This hypocrisy naturally leaves many on the left to assume that conservatives supporting this violent police crackdown have no problem with government tyranny whatsoever – as long as it serves them and the status quo that directly benefits them.

Military helicopters dispersing protesters on the streets of DC, loudspeakers ominously warning citizens of an impending curfew, riot police lined up and armed to the teeth facing down demonstrators like state-controlled robots – these are scenes straight out of a dystopian novel.

The moment has arrived for Americans to choose. They are either against government tyranny and willing to stand up and speak out loudly when they witness it in action or they condone it. It’s time to pick a side.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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