The real challenge: saving America from itself

Bill Bodden /

Published Jan 22, 2013 at 04:00AM

We are in another January when politicians from federal to local officials take their oaths of office that will in many, probably most, cases prove utterly meaningless. That is one national problem. Another is an apparent majority of Americans who are willing to be lied to.

This travesty suggests that we, as a nation, are bereft of principles we need to sustain a democratic republic. How can it possibly survive if words have no meaning for most of its so-called leaders and its people?

The irony is that people who believe in nothing can be persuaded to believe anything embellished with fearmongering. The misbegotten war on Iraq is one of many examples.

Around 70 percent of Americans and their theoretical representatives in Congress bought into propaganda about weapons of mass destruction. After these WMDs proved to be nonexistent, they inspired a squalid skit providing hilarious entertainment for Washington’s amoral elites at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner in 2004. Meanwhile, others were grieving for their dead.

Not all war supporters were gullible. A sizable minority were cynical enough to see there was money to be made out of this crime. And the liars continue as celebrities and purveyors of more lies.

Our present proliferation of guns is another example of people believing in fear-based propaganda. Many have been persuaded they need guns to defend themselves from criminals and the tyranny of government. Except for economically depressed and dysfunctional neighborhoods in larger cities where more guns have made conditions worse, the chances of needing one for self-defense are similar to winning big in the lottery. Odds would be less if there were fewer guns.

How many people are buying into the NRA’s preposterous deceit of having armed “good guys” at all schools to protect the children? An armed security officer at Columbine didn’t work, so how many would each school need? How many teachers do we lay off to pay instead for security guards? How many teachers would quit before being armed?

If, as the NRA would have us believe, this will make our schools safe, what do we do about other venues where kids gather — movie theaters, shopping malls, sporting events, etc.? Nine innocent bystanders wounded recently by trigger-happy New York cops should encourage sobering thoughts.

Not surprisingly, teachers across the nation were fearful when they returned to their classrooms after the Newtown massacre, even though they are far more likely to be killed or injured while driving to and from their schools than by some disturbed person reaching into the massive and easily accessible proliferation of lethal weapons across this nation.

But that isn’t what the NRA wants people to believe, because it is in the business of supporting corporations that make big money selling these real weapons of mass destruction.

As for needing guns to defend against some tyranny, that’s such a juvenile fantasy. The possibility of our government evolving into a dictatorship is real, perhaps inevitable, but militias, originally intended to oppose rebellions, are not the answer. If a band of rebels from Bend headed for Washington and stopped at Millican to look over their shoulders, they would very likely find themselves alone except for a drone circling ominously overhead.

With so much aversion to civic responsibilities such as paying taxes and voting intelligently, there would be scant enthusiasm for an armed rebellion against a federal government controlling the most heavily armed military in the world.

As Tunisians, Egyptians, Gandhi, the civil rights movement and others proved, guns are not necessary to topple dictatorships, but strength of character is. The armed revolt in Syria has evolved into a monumental catastrophe. Have the pro-militia people learned nothing from American history? Around 700,000 dead in our Civil War. How many in another?

During World War II, that generation identified as the greatest saved America from external aggression. Present generations may have a greater challenge — saving America from itself.