Politics/Law/Government

“Don’t retreat, reload”: vigilantes at large

By Robert Becker

Is there a more incendiary, compact, unapologetic cover for domestic vigilantes than “Don’t Retreat, Reload”? Though domestic terrorism occurred before and after Palin’s pandering war cry, her loaded gun imagery decoying as political rhetoric, gave itchy-fingered zealots free passes when “feeling endangered.” Overall, what the Bush Doctrine distilled into unilateral pre-emptive perfidy, executed by Rumsfeld’s dire “shock and awe,” then justified by Cheney’s One Per Cent Doctrine, was domesticated by this in-your-face mandate from a presumptive national leader.

With the Christian right playing the chorus, what our rogue government sustained endlessly “over there” has come home to roost, with literal vengeance, a slaughter of innocents. For if this “exceptional” nation has God’s consent to smote foreigners any time because a few belligerents “feel endangered,” even by fabricated enemies, why can’t a Florida punk delude himself that one hooded black boy presents a mortal threat? What shouldn’t our no retreat foreign policy inhabit, with poisonous payoffs, all sorts of abuse against the “other,” whether minorities, immigrants, or a top dog with Kenyan anti-colonial biases?

Forgive my focus on the Wasilla Witch, but few others, as ardently pro-life, so glorify hunting, guns, and domestic vigilantism, far more a threat to our streets than teens armed with snacks. What we initiated far away now invades backyard Neighborhood Watchers. Scope aside, can we distinguish irate stalking, warned off by police, from hate crimes and/or domestic terrorism? Indeed, despite our 9/11 victimization by rogue fanatics, 26 state laws now legalize rogue retribution, unconscious or not, in the name of self-defense. That informs avoidable tragedies like the fleeing Trayvon Martin, plus blowing up tyrannical government buildings or shooting down Congresswoman Giffords or abortion doctors attending church. Violence works for too many.

Dead Victims Don’t Talk

Promoted by misreading sacred texts, the mania of “don’t tread on me” emerges as a national call to anything goes for the aggrieved. Thus, a take-no-prisoners mindset voiced by abortion fanatics, Tea Partiers, gun extremists, anti-Obama scapegoaters – alongside shrill GOP primary campaigners (intact and fallen) and House militants eager to punish the youngest, the poor, the sick, the indigent old, the homeless and the jobless.

Whether called “hold your ground” or “no retreat” free passes, an obsessed predator shoots first, fabricates defenses, and escapes accountability. What humane public order survives unstable people imagining lethal threats in a void? That way lies madness, if not vengeance and retribution. Captured by Palin’s gun sights on her “enemy maps,” domestic, pre-emptive barrages erupt, incited by crude conspiracy theories and guilt by association, few of which bear scrutiny. Just like Saddam = 9/11, Taliban = al Qaeda, Iraq=mushroom clouds, today’s “Reload, Don’t Retreat” killers tragically equate skin color, time of night, and hoods with lethal menace, threatening civilization itself.

If you dismiss utterly real-world evidence for the big issues, like terrorism, climate change, or evolution, why demand actual behavior to justify violent urges and reactions? Facile surfaces rule all, and what white child, even hooded, would have incited “fears that one’s life was in danger,” the threshold by which goons defy police, decimate children, and leave no one to tell his tale?

Emotional Imperialism

Sounds much like invasive American imperialism coming home to roost. When national core assumptions are flaunted, the flimsiest of justifications propel invasions against those not readying to attack, let alone firing away at our borders. What goes around comes around . . . and the heart of Palin’s Domestic Violence Doctrine still goes virtually unchallenged in the public square, not overtly by a halfway-to-peace president.

Instead, our war-making machine continues its own retribution, as unmanned drones execute civilians – across generations. Brace for our rampaging soldier to defend murderous outrages because they’re exhausted or too much war made them fear inscrutable enemies. If amassed, subjective dread alone justifies our ten-year Asian onslaughts, no surprise when equivalent demons migrate home and strike darkened walkways.

Blind self-righteousness likewise foments the violent rhetoric from House extremists, sneering about debt ceilings, brooking no budget compromises and taking no prisoners when slashing programs that keep millions out of poverty, hospitals, and police cars. Does not emotional insolence, fueled by ignorance and envy, explains the contempt for science and “elitist” expertise that makes America a technological wonder? It ain’t reason but fear and rage, the blind conviction sanctified “gut feelings” (like W.’s), answerable to extra-judicial, invisible realms. Likewise, if your gut stamps Obama as foreign agent shoving treasonous socialism down our freedom-loving throats, what other choice for “true Americans” but insurgency and defiance?

22 cases of domestic terrorism since July 2008

Mowing Down Our Own

It’s good we are confronting revelations the NRA and A.L.E.C. took the lowest ground when funding legal horrors of self-defense. Sure, some may back off the worst excesses, but note the stagnant hush, even post-Gabbie Giffords, against buying, let alone carrying loaded hand guns. Where are minimal demands for mandatory training of amateurs peopling Neighborhood Watches? The reason Palin and her ilk endanger public safety (aside from egregious TV rants, including NBC!) is that one third of this nation supports bad laws, dreads minorities, and identifies with the night hunting of perceived evil-doers.

The ugly American is now the bullying, belligerent predator, here and abroad – and notable by a total absence is any national crusade against violence, especially from big (Christian) pulpits. The “Christian” right’s contradictions shine forth: anoint all newborns but push capital punishment when they grow up dark-skinned. And still on the horizon are looming uprisings from the record gun sales since Obama’s inauguration, held by shadowy militants.

Of course, Palin does not deserve all the blame, whatever her total incapacity to understand or apologize for spurring on our violence-prone culture. As Rep. Giffords warned before being shot, yet after Palin gun-sighted her district, words and intentions matter. Palin stands out for cheering on domestic extensions of the pre-emptive militarism that shames us abroad. Now, we have 26 states that defend, even excuse, predatory street violence, as if what “works” in fantasy games or action movies doesn’t shake public safety.

We are fascinated with the “wild west” because of its famed, if lawless vigilante “justice” against bad guys. But that mythology depended on disruptive crimes which the community observed and verified, whatever its harsh penalties. And here we are again: civilization besieged by legalized vigilantism — when putting up a hood in the rain ends the life of a child. Sadly, what rained down on Trayvon Martin no cotton hood could impede. Anyone taking bets on whether the shooter gets jail time? Not me. 

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