|Using Hitler as a Pro-Gun Prop is Offensive|
Until now, I've been rather quiet on the raging debate over gun control in the United States. I am unashamedly in favor of stricter gun regulations, but other than a few comments on Facebook in response to egregiously violent or offensive pro-gun posts, I didn't feel it necessary to say anything. After a "debate" last night with a pro-gun advocate, and I cannot remain silent. He threw every talking point of the NRA and the conservative right at me, most of which I found extremely offensive. So much so, that I have to say something.
So much of the reasoning used by gun enthusiasts disturbs on a profound level that I have had difficulty in narrowing this post to a particular topic. I am saddened to see such vitriolic anger on the part of pro-gun supporters towards anyone who suggests a revision to gun laws. They use violent rhetoric in bolstering their views while intimating threats towards gun control advocates. They also dehumanize people by marginalizing all offenders to "trash" regardless of circumstances and blame victims of gun violence for either being in the wrong place at the wrong time or associating with lower elements of society. I am perplexed by their paranoid world view in which they sacrifice the good of the present to prepare for a highly unlikely future of tyranny and oppression. I am frightened by their talk of armed insurrection against the government, their desire to flaunt the concept of federal supremacy by ignoring laws, and their utter lack of understanding of how democracy operates. They do not know much history and what facts they do come across they take out of context to use as props for their talking points. They openly embrace using more violence to counteract what they perceive as a violent society. Most of their arguments make little or no logical sense to me. Lately, however, the most offensive paranoid, conservative fantasies I have come across is the comparison of President Obama to Adolf Hitler and the modern U.S. to Germany's fascist regime during Hitler's reign in the 1930s and 1940s.
Circulating on social media, online conservative news outlets, and right wing blogs have been equations of President Obama to one of the most heinous figures in history. I find it incredibly offensive and completely illogical, but not surprising. Four years ago as Barrack Obama prepared to be inaugurated as president, conservatives touted secessionist rhetoric and implied that possible armed insurrection could occur as Americans would feel it necessary to fight against a radicalized, abusive federal government. Contributors to Fox News talked of America being in a "pre-revolutionary" state and being "one step closer to a civil war." All because the US voters elected a black Democrat for president. Now with President Obama's second inauguration coming quickly, especially on the heels of the intense national debate on gun control issues, conservative apologists have dusted off this old nugget of propaganda and added Adolf Hitler to fire up their base to oppose gun regulation.
By equating President Obama to Hitler, right wing radicals play to the delusional fear of gun lovers that they will eventually need to protect themselves from tyranny and dictatorship. It is a blatant emotional appeal to American gun owners, tapping into the historical ethos of individual citizens as patriots and revolutionaries. The last, best defense against a tyrannical government. Using the Hitler comparison inspires already fearful, paranoid gun owners to marshal righteous indignation and prepare to fight against fascism by stockpiling assault weapons and creating huge caches of ammunition. In essence, this argument makes it okay for radical, conspiracy-loving people to contemplate armed insurrection and civil war.
By "Hitlerizing" President Obama, these people aren't discussing sedition and insurrection, but saving the world from one of the most nefarious, evil, and heinous creatures humanity has ever seen. They turn President Obama and all the other duly elected representatives who support gun control into the enemy, and imply that a violent response to legislation they dislike is justified, even welcomed. This type of fallacious argument not only muddies the waters surrounding gun control issues, but inflames gun lovers to the point where they cease to be reasonable. It is at least an irresponsible and offensive argument to make and at most, a dangerous one. It is a tactic that vilifies and dehumanizes the opposition, shuts down any pragmatic conversation about the topic, and ultimately harms the American populace by giving violence an even greater foothold in this country. Violence and violent rhetoric do not cure violence. It never has and it never will.
While my conversation with the gun lover last night both irritated and frightened me, it had one good effect. I realized that I need to speak up about this particular issue and advocate more vocally and logically for responsible and reasonable gun regulation in the United States. I refuse to be silent in the face of vicious, callous, and false attacks on progressive legislators who want to address the rampant gun violence in the US in a meaningful, proactive manner. I may not persuade anyone to my way of thinking, but I am going to ensure that they at least hear me. Being quiet, when subversive elements like this shout to the rooftops, is no longer an option for me. I'll be as loud as the opposition, but much less fearful, delusional, and paranoid. Of that I am certain.