Thoughts by Richard Bleil
For far too long, I’ve been waiting for it to happen. Every time I see “good people” who decide to “exercise their second amendment rights” by carrying assault rifles and weapons in public, my thought always goes to the same place. My fear has been that with one itchy finger trigger disaster is just waiting to strike. All we need is a car to backfire, or somebody to feel threatened for things to go wrong.
In New Mexico, it finally happened. Our society has been fighting over statues, where many statues of confederate generals have been toppled, statues that frankly have been the center of controversy and should have been taken down for years. Had the government done so, the statues would at least remain safe. Instead, they were left up in defiance until the social unrest destroyed.
The assault on statues has devolved. Now a civil rights statue in New Jersey has been destroyed where revenge is suspected. Anger is also turning away from civil war statues to others with legitimate complaints, like Christopher Columbus, but still very different from civil war personalities. Now there are those insisting on stone mountain to be removed, which I certainly understand but as it is carved into natural stone (much like Mt. Rushmore) the logistics of “removing it” are not so simple.
In New Mexico is a statue of, as I recall, a conquistador whose name I cannot recall. I understand why these explorers would upset some people; Christopher Columbus opened the door to settlers who killed the native people and stole their lands, so I get that. But he wasn’t exactly a traitor to America like the civil war generals. The Conquistadors were evil and brutal men to the people they came across, so maybe they don’t deserve a statue, but when will the momentum end?
Okay, the point of this blog isn’t to try to take sides on which statues should come down or which shouldn’t, and the event in New Mexico is more about modern day militia than the statue debate. Apparently, word got out about people who were going to protest the statue. About half a dozen self-appointed “protectors of culture” showed up with military style weapons and handguns to protect the statue and their second amendment rights. About five hundred demonstrators descended on the statue. One of the militia members actually made the comment that they didn’t expect so many people to show up.
Police, with their training and advanced equipment showed their superior intelligence and stayed out of it. The self-proclaimed “well organized” militia really should have taken the cue and backed down, but instead decided it was up to them to stand their ground against these unarmed peaceful protesters.
Then a shot rang out.
The protests turned to vandalism, and the vandalism has now turned into a shooting war. That might seem a bit extreme, but as I’ve said before, all it takes is an itchy finger trigger. Several of the militia have been arrested, with scores of weapons and ammunition clips confiscated. With the number of arms and ammo they had, it certainly wasn’t for self-protection. One of the peaceful protesters is in serious condition, and a few others have been hospitalized as well. The story is a bit confusing; I’m guessing more shots were fired.
One of the arrested said he was only acting in self-defense, claiming that one of the protesters swung a skateboard at him. I’m sure this person was completely innocent and didn’t say anything to provoke the attempted assault, assuming that it actually did happen, and certainly responding with a military style rifle to avoid what could be a bad bruise is not an example of uneven response at all.
What surprises me is that gun owners and second amendment supporters are not upset by armed protesters trying to take over government buildings and confronting peaceful protesters. In an earlier post, I suggested that these are exactly the kind of irresponsible actions that can lead to restrictions in gun rights. As a former, and hopefully future, gun owner myself, these people worry me, and sure enough, New Mexico has imposed restrictions on carrying arms in public parks, even if only temporary.
We’re seeing a dangerous escalation of violence, and tactics usually seen in warfare and terrorism. We see campaigns of disinformation including by state influenced Fox “news”. According to recent polls, the vast majority of Americans support the peaceful protesters and their cause of inclusion and justice, and the remaining hard right minority are turning to arms in an attempt to even the playing field. The president is using rhetoric to keep us divided and vilify those he sees as the “enemy”, using terms like the “China Flu” and “Fascist ANTIFA”. The armed right is branding themselves “patriots” and “heroes” implying that anybody not with them are anti-American thus justifying their violence against the protesters. How long until the left has no choice but to arm themselves in the name of self-defense?