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April 15, 2014

Is This Republic On Such Unsound Footing That It Must Respond to Civil Disobedience As If It Is Girding for War?

Harry Reid seems to have taken the Bundy standoff rather personally:

"Well, it's not over. We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it's not over," Reid said.

It is a very scary thing when a government officer takes such things personally -- given that the government can and does order the use of lethal force against citizens.

What is the rationale for Reid's We-Must-Not-Let-This-Insult-Pass attitude? Were Reid talking about a slight from a hostile foreign power -- such as Russia, or, for that matter, al-Qaeda -- he's more than likely counsel us to not lose our heads in bull-headed, testosterone-fueled anger.

Yet here he is counseling just that -- "Let's throw our weight around."

This can only be justified if you believe that the American people are roiling in a state of near-rebellion, and we must squash individual shows of defiance lest the people rise up in open revolt.

Several objections to this:

First, the left often criticizes the right for having a "paranoid" view of government, seeing it as a menace which must be contained.

But notice here that the left harbors its own paranoid views of menaces that must be stamped out -- notably, the American people themselves.

Second, if the populace were really in such a state of near-rebellion such that the tiniest spark from a Nevada cattleman could set off a conflagration, wouldn't that be a sign that perhaps the government needs to adjust its behavior and attitude, rather than Harry Reid's suggestion that it must Show Who's Boss Here like a juvenile street gang demarcating its turf?

Governments do not in fact have to use Maximum Force to crush dissenters. France, for example, allows quite a bit of civil unrest (chiefly from the leftwing). One needn't go so far as to endorse the French model and permit union workers to kidnap their bosses and hold them for ransom in labor "negotiations" (yes, that's a real thing that really happens) to suggest that perhaps the American government, and its agents of enforcement of state will, could perhaps temper the zeal with which they show everyday citizens which gang really controls this turf.

Kevin D. Williamson wrote a piece about this, and finds it troubling that a nation born in revolution and devoted, once upon a time, to the idea that citizens are masters of the state, and not vice versa, should respond so spasmodically to such a minor provocation.

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posted by Ace at 08:43 PM

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