|The NRA and the PLO
The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians has had a sort of dreamland familiarity to me as it has raged over the past two months. After long reflection, I have realized where I have seen these images before: in the rhetoric of the American gun lobby. A truck parked down the street from my house proudly proclaims, Nations are Free when Free Men Have Guns. The idea seems to be that if an American government tried to turn despotic, it would be opposed by millions of righteous gun owners who, with their combined arsenal, would drive off the agents of tyranny like the Minute Men chasing the redcoats back from Lexington.
I think you can see how much success they would have by observing the situation in Palestine. Has the arsenal of the Palestinians enabled them to win their freedom by force? No. Instead, it has compounded oppression with terror, hatred, and death. Against the tanks and helicopters of the Israeli "Defense Forces" the Palestinians' AK-47s are about as much use as, well, I was going to say "slingshots", but I think the stone-throwing kids have done much more for their cause than the terrorists have. The more the masked gunmen fight, the farther their stated goal of a free, united, multi-ethnic Palestine retreats into the future.
The M-16s of the Michigan Militia would be even less effective against the 82nd Airborne. Ask yourself this: what would have happened in the US if blacks had chosen a violent militant as their leader instead of Martin Luther King? Ruin and disaster. Through a non-violent appeal to the conscience of whites, blacks gained rights they could never have won with guns and bombs. Surely the Palestinians would be better off if they had chosen a King or a Gandhi for their leader instead of Arafat and taken their stand on the ground of justice rather than the battlefield.
In the contemporary west, the gun no longer has any use as a political weapon. The aversion to violence and the love of safety are too strong for any contra force to gain a mass following. Those who love liberty should fight their battles in the press, the courts, and the voting booths and leave the shooting for drug dealers and movie stars.
October 24, 2000
"Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a Liberal, who wants to replace them with others."
--Ambrose Bierce, The