Remember when National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre's Godwin's Law comment about "jackbooted government thugs" was the worst thing ever? Well, the mainstream commentariat continues to use the same incendiary, totalitarianism-invoking language to describe…individual citizens. The latest comes from Washington Post columnist and serial public broadcasting commentator E.J. Dionne:
This is not about the politics of populism. It's about the politics of the jackboot. It's not about an opposition that has every right to free expression. It's about an angry minority engaging in intimidation backed by the threat of violence.
Who, precisely, is being intimidated with violence here? The dudes showing up to town hall meetings with licensed firearms are not brandishing them (contrary to the fantasia of Scripps-Howard columnists), not (as far as I'm aware) making verbal threats to anyone, and not getting anywhere near elected officials, thanks in part to law enforcement who are hyper-aware of their presence. The closest thing we have to town hall "intimidation" by an armed man is Ron Paul supporter (and onetime Hit & Run commenter?) William Kostric (pictured) displaying a Thomas Jefferson quote that I was first made conscious of by lefty opponents of George W. Bush.
But even less accurate than the intimidation charge is the notion that scattered individuals in a free country are the equivalent of uniformed murderers acting on behalf of a totalitarian government. I mean, this is not hard to grasp, right? And yet here we see our fellow not-in-power Americans described as "fascists," "political terrorists," and "brownshirts," often by the very same people who complain (and rightly so!) about spurious Nazi analogies.