A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined, to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite… (George Washington, First State of the Union Message)
In a recently published article I refer to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California as an indication that we have arrived at “the penultimate stage of the general offensive under way against the United States.” That offense aims to overthrow America’s government of by and for the people. As I wrote that sentence, I was thinking of an account Montaigne gives in the essay entitled “Should the commander of a place under siege come out to parley.” (On the Spirit of the Laws, Book I, Chapter 5) He tells the story of Henry De Vaux, the French commander of the Château de Commercy when it was besieged by the English. Montaigne relates that the English commander,
…having undermined most of the Castle, so that nothing remained but to light the fuse in order to bury the besieged forces under its ruins, invited the said Henry to come out to parley, for his own good; which he did, accompanied by three others. And after his evident ruin was brought before his eyes, he felt, on that account, singularly obliged to his foe, at whose command, after he surrendered himself and his forces, the Château was razed to the ground.
In this story, the parley was not an occasion for discussion, much less negotiation. It was simply the opportunity for a demonstration which, as it turned out, had an immediate effect. Properly understood, the story ought to bring to mind President Truman’s decision to devastate Hiroshima and Nagasaki, using the atomic bomb. However, when he acted, Truman had to take account of the kamikaze mentality engendered by the Samurai ethic of Japan’s rulers at the time. So, given the vulnerability of his means of delivering the decisive stroke, he did not inform his enemy in advance of the devastation he had the power to unleash.
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What has this to do with the terrorist attack in California? Well, it may help to explain why, though the terrorist dogs were obviously willing to run for their ferocious masters, they did not bark. There was no clearly identifying battle cry, no exultant “Allahu Akbar!” to bless the ritual slaughter of their victims. Their silence forestalled the irresistible rush of righteous indignation that was likely to be released had the assailants immediately confirmed that their violence was part of the Jihadist war against the American people.
Instead, Americans had to endure the pretense of uncertainty, which Barack Obama upheld, however idiotic it seemed to his critics. As if in with conscious knowledge of its purpose, he gambled on the semblance of doubt the attackers’ silence made possible. And the gamble paid off. The outrage that should have galvanized the nation’s moral will, was held in check.
On that account, Barack Obama’s dithering about the identity of the attackers could be made to seem merely ridiculous, rather than infuriating. The wave of moral energy that might have forced an offensive response to the offense committed against us, broke instead against a levy of hesitant, defensive speculation that abated its force. This was enough to turn natural perception of the episode from an outrage, deeply felt as such, into something not unlike the action dramas Americans are used to watching on TV. They rouse strong emotions, but they are held in check by the sense that what they depict is not what it appears to be.
This double mindedness is exactly suited to produce a “demonstration effect”. The terrorist episode rouses fear and indignation, yet without the sense of urgency that calls for an immediate response. But unlike the dramas played out in the movies and on TV, the lurking sense that there is no real danger is shattered by images and accounts that make it plain that danger has in reality struck home. But the energy that should therefore be channeled into action against the enemy, is focused instead on the emotional perception of power the enemy has demonstrated. So it nourishes fear rather than indignation.
Thus, as passive spectators, Americans are led to consider the appraised attack against them as though it were evidence at a trial, rather than an episode in the trial by combat already under way. It takes on the aspect of an event to processed by our intellect and imagination, rather than by the instinctive emotions that urgently call for action. Perceived thus objectively, there is room for speculation. How many more are there like this, living in our midst as seeming co-workers, colleagues and even friends? In what office or theater, what mall or grocery store will they next appear to threaten and take our lives? Such questions tend to dispel the deep sense of security that, in so many places in America, our people take we take for granted as we carry out the normal tasks of daily living.
As we consider the dimension of thought in which this speculation occurs, we should realize that it is like the shadow cast by objects in the sun. Depending on its height, they can seem so much larger than, in fact, they really are.
But the shadows cast by terrorist attacks are armed, and dangerous to our lives — a proven fact we cannot mitigate by any suspension of belief. It can happen here. It is happening. What recourse do we have? Must we simply find a place to hide, a way to flee? Like the passengers in a diving jet, must we wait on someone else to bring the situation under control?
The language of the Second Amendment has a logic to it which makes clear that the Constitutional answer to these questions is emphatically NO! In my column for the Daily Caller, forthcoming later this week, I will discuss that logic, and the plan it implies for securing America’s free state.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.