Violence and visions of America
Too many people think that the solution to a problem is violence. I know that this is a trite comment, but as Kansas passes concealed carry legislation, it's a point that's on my mind. Everyone has a story of a meaningless act of public rudeness which actually or nearly turned violent. We've all seen examples, whether in person or on the news, of people who don't know how to handle themselves when things don't go their way.
We saw it with Paul Mirecki last fall. A couple hoodlums couldn't distinguish between a battle of ideas and beating a man on a rural road.
Long-time readers may remember our discussion of Larry Pratt and his advocacy of Guatemalan-style death squads, an idea that germinated into the militia movement. After surveying the death squads in Guatemala and the Philippines, he approvingly writes of them:
What genocide had not been able to accomplish for years and years, cooperation with an armed people brought peace within months.
Would it not be worth trying the same thing in our violence-torn cities?This sort of fetishization of violence leads to no good. The State Department, reviewing that era in Guatemala, wrote:
Guatemala is a violent society. The conscious acceptance and use of violence as an instrument of politics contribute to the extraordinary levels of murder, kidnapping and disappearances. …At first security forces utilized kidnappings to intimidate the left and to convince potential guerrilla supporters to remain neutral. Kidnappings of rural social workers, medical personnel, and campesinos became common between 1979-83. Often innocent victims were accused of being insurgents by military commissioners,. other village leaders, an individual's personal enemies or business competitors. Many of these accused would soon joun the ranks of the disappeared.…I fear that the violence and threats directed at judges may be a first step toward Larry Pratt's America.
The purpose of the disappearances – to intimidate the left from involvement in politics – was to become one of the principal goals of such tactics by government agents and paramilitary groups linked with right wing political parties.
Thomas Jefferson famously said that "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance," and that's as true of our age as it was of his.