Here is a truth so fundamental that it should be self-evident: When legitimately constituted state authority stands down in the face of armed threats, the very foundation of the republic is in danger. And yet that is exactly what happened at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch this spring: An alleged criminal defeated the cops, because the forces of lawlessness came at them with guns — then Bureau of Land Management officials further surrendered by removing the government markings from their vehicles to prevent violence against them.
What should be judged a watershed in American history instead became a story about one man’s racist rants. ...
Such actions are the logical conclusion of a movement that has been veritably sweeping the nation for years now. Early Tea Partiers began attending rallies with guns on their hips. “Open carry” advocates make a fetish of just this sort of brandishing of guns in public places, especially where they are most unwanted. The slogan “molon labe” — “come and take them,” the defiant cry allegedly uttered by King Leonidas I when the Persian army ordered the Greeks to surrender their weapons at Thermopylae — is everywhere on the right: molon labe T-shirts, molon labe cloth napkins for your next dinner party, sexy molon labe thongs, molon labe release-catches for your AR-15, available on Etsy.com from “MolonLabeLLC.”Perlstein then goes on to blame Democrats for the backlash from certain conservatives, suggesting that it could have been avoided if the Democrats had been more forceful about enacting gun control. He states:
So what’s different now? Why is this language so prevalent, and why do so many on the far right seem so eager to act upon it? They haven’t changed. We have.
By “us,” I mean Democrats — though the kind of Democrats, to be fair, who decide party policy from Washington. Once upon a time, Democratic presidential candidates robustly argued for gun control — that, as the party platform put it in 1980 (the year the NRA made its first ever presidential endorsement, of Ronald Reagan), “handguns simplify and intensify violent crime”; Democrats support “enactment of federal legislation to strengthen the presently inadequate regulations over the manufacture, assembly, distribution, and possession of handguns.”Except, he's wrong. The Left hasn't changed--at least not the way he suggests. Democrats didn't back away from gun control--they still want it. Democrat politicians have downplayed the gun control issue however, because the average American has changed. At one time, the public (and the NRA) meekly permitted the passage of the 1968 gun control act. Nary a word was spoken in opposition to the 1987 ban on the manufacture and sale of "new" automatic weapons. Even the 1994 Brady Bill seemed to have popular support. Now, not so much. Even if Republican politicians are not doing so, conservatives are beginning to push back, to adopt some of the tactics used by the Left.
And that is what bothers Perlstein. He's not bothered by the use of force in politics. Perlstein has written approvingly of the Occupy movement. (See, e.g., here, here and here). In fact, if anything, he was critical of the Occupy movement because it did not go far enough. In his Rolling Stone article linked above, he wrote of the need for the Occupy movement to not only occupy public space, but to make specific political demands. In a Crooks-and-Liars post, he wrote:
Change, Occupiers, or die. Scare politicians. Systematically. Do politics—even if it means the messy of forming coalitions with the nasty organizations "that got us into this mess in the first place." Human beings got us into this mess in the first place. And no one is saying we shouldn't be working with them. Or if you are, I don't want to be part of your revolution.So, it is not the threat of force or "scaring politicians" that frightens and bothers Perlstein. Rather, it is that conservatives are attempting to "scare politicians." Like a criminal, Perlstein doesn't want the Left's victims to fight back.