THE BLOG
05/02/2014 10:08 am ET | Updated Jul 02, 2014

Better Love It or Leave It, Because We Cling to Guns

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The times they have a changed. I remember when the extreme right-wing nuts were social pariahs. No mainstream politician or national media organization would openly embrace or advocate for them. They were either percolating as white supremacist racists, shamed KKK holdouts, Hell's Angels road bandits, or grouped into a category labeled "survivalists." They were all armed and willing, had caches of enough weapons and supplies sometimes hidden in bunkers, and they were going to save America. We knew they existed, sometimes gave them some thought, but mostly ignored them as pesky bugs that one just has to monitor and avoid as best as possible, because there was a powerful sense that the rightness of the American Dream machine would prevail.

This was also a time when America's youth were "crusaders" against government over-reach. Despite their being armed only with the first amendment, idealism, and organizing peaceful and mostly non-violent protests, a majority of Americans angrily called them unpatriotic and yelled for them to "love it or leave it!" Odd to realize now how that slogan was never aimed at the right wing nuts.

During the same period of social discontent when the Black Panthers "stood their ground" armed with the second amendment, the FBI and all shades of law enforcement agents either killed many of them in shoot-outs or imprisoned others. Americans, in the mid-west, and from coast to coast supported the government and its agents with patriotic fervor for ridding society of those illegal treasonous Hanoi Jane and black militant types. The chaotic unrest of the '60s and '70s faded as the social crusaders donned work suits and NBA team uniforms and assimilated back into the melting pot.

Fast forward to Cliven Bundy's "home on the Nevada range," where the big ugly truth stood its ground that America is still a Civil War house divided across one hundred fifty plus Aprils. What first appeared to be a resurgent state rights sagebrush rebellion on steroids took a prickly cactus turn.

There was the usual and now quite predictable circus of "Republican" characters that jumped on this event to spin the narrative, score political points, spend Koch brother monies, stoke the base, create another poster child victim of Obama's illegal government over-reach, and gain another propaganda win.

The shocking surprise was the turnout of "first responders." The neo-minutemen and women that flocked to the Nevada "Concord" from other states, forming a volunteer armed citizenry, that took up sniper positions, and were ready to place women as the first receivers of bullets against federal agents enforcing the law against the cattle welfare queen, Cliven Bundy. This group was more than ready and desirous of martyrdom to bring about their larger cause, the overthrow of the evil empire.

Just when did it become fashionable and acceptable, and not punishable for armed treason against the government? That is exactly what occurred there. No one was saying, "love it or leave it" to this posse, because they cling to guns, because they have become embedded into a way larger fabric of American society than their predecessors were able to. I wonder if the gush of the Republican power elite somehow legitimized and thus emboldened these folks? Could this have become the first shots of the rewriting of the Civil War?

Thankfully, the same guy that started this defused the standoff. Cliven Bundy talked. No longer an obscure desperate lone ranger, Cliven had the embrace and love from the Republican machine that empowered him to spew his Civil War era racism. The same machine that gaveth him a platform, now couldn't find enough cactus, sagebrush, or moral platitudes to distance themselves fast enough. Oh well, no one promised unconditional love.

It is beyond me why the extreme right wing Republican power machine doesn't do a better job vetting the Cliven Bundys. Does so much power and money breed such stupidity? I guess in their mind they won anyway. They know the hatred is still out there waiting for the next crusade, and it isn't the sort of group that anyone other than me might politely ask of them, but here goes, please, "America, love it or leave it!"