In the arguments that I’ve had with gun control advocates, I’ve been told over and over that tyranny can’t happen here. Supposedly, our system of government makes us immune to the rise of dictatorship, and the goodness of the American people who would vote against such an eventuality serves as a final check. According to this point of view, there is no need for an armed citizenry as a protection of liberty.
Instructive comparisons are to be found in the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany in the early part of the twentieth century. Italy had spent heavily fighting the First World War and was suffering from “unemployment, inflation, riots, strikes, and brigandage.” When a tyrant encouraged violence in the streets while promising security and a return to greatness — Make the Roman Empire Great Again — his tactics got him into government and then into total power. The same happened in Germany a decade later, following the same pattern — Make the German People Great Again.
Germany, at least, was a leader in education, science, and the arts, but in both cases, the countries were young, only unifying out of city-states and principalities in the second half of the nineteenth century, and in the case of Germany, only adopting democracy following the defeat by the Allies and the imposition of the Versailles Treaty. In neither case were the people experienced with popular rule, and both were going through the economic and social disruptions that would become global depression.
The parallel to America would be to look at our civil war, a conflict that came a similar length of time after we were founded as a nation. But there are also comparisons to be drawn regarding fascism’s emergence in Germany and Italy a century ago and modern America. While we’re said to have recovered from the Great Recession, we still have some fifteen percent of the population living in poverty — and that’s using the government’s definition of earning under some $12,000 a year for a single person. Twenty-one percent of children are in this status. The real number — people who struggle to get by, despite working several jobs that provide no health insurance or other guarantees that the middle class is used to — is much higher.
And we have a candidate, now a president-elect, who ran on a platform of singling out Muslims and Hispanics by labeling them as Others who aren’t real Americans. And a disturbing number of his supporters, known as the alt right these days, are engaging in the anti-Semitic bigotry of classic fascism. Add these things to Trump’s history of encouraging violence against protesters, and concerns over where this nation is heading are more and more a rational response, not mere alarmism.
In fairness, I have to acknowledge that the protests that have arisen after the election are taking on an increasingly hostile tone, and as much as each side wants to see their own behavior as an acceptable reaction to what their opponents have done, the direction that we’re heading — only by a few steps so far — is not one that I hope any of us would take as our first choice.
With that in mind, though, I address my fellow liberals here. Given the history that I’ve just reviewed here and what has happened in this election, do you still see tyranny as something that can never arise here? If you now answer yes, can you understand the value of an armed free people, especially people who are not in the majority?
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.