August 10, 2010 | Filed Under 2nd Amendment, Constitution, Democrats/Leftists, Government, Guns, Journalism, Liberals, Media, Media Bias, New York, Tea Party, The New York Times, Warner Todd Huston | Comments Off
-By Warner Todd Huston
The New York Times sent Mattathias Schwartz to find out what was going on at Jack Dailey’s firearms training camps across the country and what he found apparently made the writer fear that America was going to the lily white, revolutionary, tea party dogs.
Schwartz went to learn about Jack Dailey’s Appleseed Project firearms marksmanship training camps and what he found were folks of “uniformly white skin” whose ideas were influenced by those “motley carnivals of the Tea Party movement.” And apparently Schwartz fears that they all want to institute a violent revolution in America. Yes, it’s all about those scary “militias” despite that the Appleseed Project has no connection to any.
“Determining whether this revolutionary talk constitutes a threat comes down to finding the fine line between expressing anger and inciting the angry to action,” Schwartz writes, “a distinction that is clear as a matter of law but less so in cultural practice.” Then right away Schwartz invokes the Timothy McVeigh incident as if every American that wants to observe his Second Amendment rights is an Oklahoma bomber in waiting.
Naturally, Schwartz found as many nay-saying “experts” as he could to help the reader along to the conclusion that Second Amendment supporters are a hairsbreadth away from going violent. With one “expert,” whose rhetoric was meant to demean American history, we find that Americans are returning to their “creation myth” over their interest in the Second Amerndment.
But the sociologist James William Gibson, whose book “Warrior Dreams” analyzed civilian paramilitary culture since the mid-’70s, says Appleseed and the broader movement around it are unlikely to pose a danger to civil society. “When a culture is in crisis, the first response is often to go back to the creation myth and start over again,” he told me. “The narrative is ‘we’re going to redo the narrative of the United States by returning to origins, to marksmanship.’ People are focusing on the idea that America’s problems can be resolved into something that can be shot. It doesn’t exactly encourage systematic reflection, but it’s a long ways from a civil war.”
Notice Gibson’s dismissive attitude for our “creation myth” and for what he obviously thinks is America’s simple-minded concept that our “problems can be resolved into something that can be shot.” How far Gibson had to look down his nose as he talked to Schwartz is unknown, but the distance must have been great, indeed.
Of course the whole thing about this piece is that instead of talking about what Appleseed does, Schwartz used the marksmanship training classes as a way to fear monger about “militias,” and white ones at that.
Schwartz focused heavily on the anti-government aspect of “militias” and liberally tarred Appleseed Project with that brush. But there is an inconvenient fact that Schwarz seemed hell-bent on ignoring. Appleseed Project is filled with members of our military, ex-embers of our military, and a great number of members of our law enforcement community. Appleseed Project has even given its classes on American military bases. If the Appleseed were so anti-government, none of this would be true.
And, true to the Old Media’s fear mongering, Schwartz spends considerable time in his piece detailing the rather questionable assertions of just one of those members of Appleseed’s past training camps leaving the reader to feel that this one, perhaps off-kilter guy, is representative of the whole of Appleseed’s clients.
Worse, for all his allusions to America’s founding principles where it concerns firearms and self-protection, Schwartz did not one time offer any quotes from the very founders he invoked. A few founders quotes would certainly have helped readers understand the points some of the folks in Schwatrz’ story were trying to make.
He could have quoted Alexander Hamilton, who said, “Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped.”
Or maybe he could have quoted Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story who taught his own students this lesson about our Second Amendment rights: “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
Or he could even have quoted Thomas Jefferson as to how a “right” is observed. “It is a principle that the right to a thing gives a right to the means without which it could not be used, that is to say, that the means follow their end.” In other words, owning a firearm is, indeed, the only way we can logically observe our Second Amendment rights.
But it is General George Washington’s words that were the guiding principle for everyone at Appleseed, words that could have been beneficial to Schwartz’ story, words that could have clarified what these Americans at Appleseed were trying to do.
Washington said, “To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” And that timeless logic, that guiding American principle is what lies at the heart of Appleseed. Not the desire for revolution, but the need, no the responsibility, to guard against it through effectual preparedness and a firm control of the reins of government through observing our proper American principles and institutions.
Schwartz warped the Appleseed Project into a dangerous white “militia” movement without warrant. He employed fearmongering against our very Constitutional rights, attempted to negate our founding principles, and made to vilify an entire segment of our nation.
Then again, he’s from the New York Times, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that it is “America the Dangerous” to him instead of “America the Beautiful.”
(Originally posted at BigJournalism.com)
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.
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