Last week, we were investigating why American sovereign citizens are treated with threats of fines and arrest should we fail to jump to attention and scour our property for the junk a careless federal agency has dumped on our land when NASA could have politely requested the help of the citizens of Texas and Louisiana.
Why was their first instinct instead to resort to threats of force? And why, in contrast (we asked hypothetically), would they show so much more courtesy, respect and consideration to the representatives of the bloodthirsty butchers of Tiananmen Square, should they find need to request the return of something which had come to rest on the grounds of the Chinese embassy?
Some will reply this has nothing to do with any "principle" of sovereignty -- the U.S. government merely treats foreign embassies this way out of pragmatism, because it knows the safety of its own ambassadors overseas depends on such rules being followed to the letter.
Precisely. Once the kind of folks who think of themselves as "the government" have had a couple of generations to get used to their monopoly on armed force and coercion, they quickly tire of pretending to act as our "servants." They start to assume the attitude of thugs, bullies, street criminals and condottieri. Their first instinct is to do what they want and take what they want at gunpoint, using the "command voice."
Watch a cop disarm a peaceful and compliant driver who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, before writing him a traffic ticket. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for our "servant" the policeman to take off his gun, unload it, and lay it on the hood of the car, "for the driver's safety," until he had concluded his business with his servant and master, the taxpayer/voter? After all, his quick computer background check has already revealed this driver to be one of the safest and most law-abiding and best-trained citizens out there -- those "pistol permits" don't come in Cracker Jack boxes, you know.
Only when they come up against equal or nearly equal force do these thugs back down, reconsider and try "negotiation."
So why do they no longer treat us American citizens as a sovereign power, as an armed force superior in every way to the federal government, willing and able to throw them out on their ears, just as Mr. Jefferson insisted in the Declaration was the right of all free men?
Because we aren't. And this is what's so vitally important about the fact that we Americans are still allowing ourselves to be systematically disarmed. (You didn't notice the 9th Circuit, in Nordyke v. King, found again on Feb. 18 that "individuals lack standing to raise a Second Amendment challenge" to a local ordinance prohibiting the possession of firearms on county property?)
For "gun rights," you see, are not about the fact that moronic Idaho militiamen want to keep their women barefoot and pregnant at gunpoint, or that the NRA is a mere front for greedy ammunition manufacturers hoping to play on the paranoia of right-wing conspiracy nuts, or whatever latest bizarre explanation the Victim Disarmament gang is offering for the fact that such "right-wing wackos" as Yale University Law School Professor Akhil Reed Amar and Laurence Tribe of Harvard now agree that the right to bear arms is an individual, constitutional right.
No, the problem is that our government masters no longer believe or even pretend to believe that we are a nation of free and sovereign citizens, with the rights to control our own property and lives and earnings and children, and that they are merely "servants" who have been delegated certain limited powers, which they may exercise only to the extent seen fit by us, their masters.
This trend back toward an arrogance more commonly identified with monarchy started when Mr. Washington put down the Whisky Rebellion. But I still don't think we would have seen this degree of offhand federal arrogance a century or more ago.
This notion that the citizens had damned well better follow the directives of the federal government unless they wanted to find themselves jailed or killed -- their churches and homes and cities burned to the ground -- really got started with the Tyrant Lincoln, of course. (Read either Jeff Hummel's "Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men," or Thomas DiLorenzo's "The Real Lincoln.")
After a brief retrenchment (the Supreme Court belatedly threw out the Tyrant Lincoln's income tax as a violation of the constitutional edict that all direct taxes must be apportioned equally among adults), things then got much worse during the "Progressive" explosion of Wilsonian socialism from 1913 to 1919. And the game was really up for property rights (and therefore, most of our others rights) after the "New Deal" fascist takeover of 1933-1952.
By 1965 the last lonely "mainstream" voices for limited government -- Robert A. Taft and Barry Goldwater -- had been defeated and marginalized ... and the tyrants on the Potomac have never looked back.
Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.