Beware the revolting right
April 6th 2009 03:03
Most of us simply do not get the American attitude to guns. No matter how high the statistics climb – five individual rampages killed 44 in the last month alone, more than 30,000 die by the gun annually – there is still no appetite for gun control.
Indeed, gun sales are soaring. The F.B.I. website received 5.5 million requests for background checks of potential gun buyers from Nov 2008 – Feb 2009 – up 1.2 million compared with the same period last year. The surge is blamed on rumours – often reported as fact – that Barack Obama “plans to take away our guns.”
Obama’s election stirred up enormous anger and frustration on the right. After years of influence under George W, they are angry, marginalised and powerless - and armed.
Not just about gun control. They’re angry at government intervention in the free market, the expansion of public debt, but most of all ‘the attack on American family values’, aka gay rights.
The Family Research Council – until recently an influential purveyor of widly distorted evangelical anti-gay propaganda – is desperate to prevent the extension of hate crimes legislation to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
“This could lead to simple expressions of religious faith - including sermons and radio broadcasts -being prosecuted as ‘hate.’ ….. an ‘offended’ homosexual could accuse a religious broadcaster . . . a pastor . . . Sunday School teacher . . . or other individual of causing emotional injury simply by expressing the biblical view that homosexual behavior is morally wrong and unhealthy,” says their website.
But don’t worry that such ‘views’ might lead to violence and death for homosexuals, because, as FRC helpfully points out in a postscript, “Remember, all violent criminals should be prosecuted but we already have laws for that.”
Some right wing websites are talking of armed resistance. Action movie star Chuck Norris recently wrote on the conservative blog WorldNetDaily: “We've …. secularized our society until we ooze skepticism and circumvent religion on every level of public and private life….. How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution?”
So what is the latest incident to get these armed, angry people even angrier? Another mass shooting? No – the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court to strike down the ban on same-sex marriage.
This is mainstream USA - serious, low-key, respectable. The first link at the top of first page of the states official website is ‘Ask A Librarian’. The state tree is an oak, and as if that wasn’t stolid enough, they have a state rock – the geode, which has “a hard outer shell [with] a sparkling lining of mineral crystals.”
You still can’t get married in San Francisco or New York New York, but within a fortnight you’ll be able to tie the knot before the registrar in Des Moines. The "invasion" of gay marriage into the heartland has shocked and horrified the right, and has the gay community bracing for a backlash.
There were death threats when Iowa’s second-largest city, Cedar Rapids, voted to include sexual orientation in the city's anti-discrimination laws, and local activists say both “legal and individual acts of retaliation” to the Supreme Court decision are likely.
California – a progressive state - recorded a surge in anti-gay violence and crime in the wake of the legalisation of gay marriage and during the ultimately successful battle to strike it down. What will Iowa bring?
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