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The Official Timothy McVeigh fan club

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Michelle Goldberg points out that Timothy McVeigh’s views on how any gun regulation puts a nation on the road to tyranny, because the goal of such regulation is to make it impossible for armed insurrectionists to overthrow the government, have become gospel truth in the contemporary Republican party:

Mass shootings are increasingly part of the background noise of life in a country coming apart at the seams. As far as I can tell, there’s little sense that this latest shooting is a watershed moment that could spur political change. Instead, it’s the kind of regular occurrence we are expected to live with, lest the right’s quest for unfettered gun access be interrupted.

The reason that America endures a level of gun violence unique among developed countries, and that we can often do little about it, is so many politicians have views on guns that aren’t far afield from McVeigh’s. As Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, has pointed out, it’s become common to hear Republicans echo McVeigh’s insurrectionary theory of the Second Amendment, which holds that Americans must be allowed to amass personal arsenals in case they need to overthrow the government. As the MAGA congresswomen Lauren Boebert once put it, the Second Amendment “has nothing to do with hunting, unless you’re talking about hunting tyrants.”

The Republican Party’s fetishization of guns and its fetishization of insurrection — one that’s reached a hysterical pitch since Donald Trump’s presidency — go hand in hand. Guns are at the center of a worldview in which the ability to launch an armed rebellion must always be held in reserve. And so in the wake of mass shootings, when the public is most likely to clamor for gun regulations, Republicans regularly shore up gun access instead. In April, following a school shooting in Nashville, Republicans expelled two young Black Democratic legislators who’d led a gun control protest at the Tennessee Capitol. A few days later, the State Senate passed a bill protecting the gun industry from lawsuits. . .

It’s hard to think of a historical precedent for a society allowing itself to be terrorized in the way we have. The normalization of both right-wing terrorism and periodic mass shootings by deranged loners is possible only because McVeigh’s views have been mainstreamed. “In the nearly 30 years since the Oklahoma City bombing, the country took an extraordinary journey — from nearly universal horror at the action of a right-wing extremist to wide embrace of a former president (also possibly a future president) who reflected the bomber’s values,” wrote Toobin.

As it happens, in the hours after the Oklahoma City bombing, before the authorities knew who McVeigh was, he was pulled over during a routine traffic stop and then arrested for carrying a gun without a permit. In 2019, however, Oklahoma legalized permitless carry. Under the new law, McVeigh would have been let go.

We have to tolerate 50,000 gun deaths per year in the US, including increasingly common terroristic mass shootings, because the GOP is now dominated by delusional fetishists who actually believe that private gun ownership is some sort of real protection against government tyranny. This was Timothy McVeigh’s world view, and it’s now the Republican party’s as well.

I’m sympathetic to Goldberg’s statement that the country is “coming apart at the seams,” in that it does seem to be doing so in the sense of the total collapse of any sort of consensus politics or culture. But in another sense the more disturbing thing is that the country is not in fact going to come apart at all in any foreseeable future: Instead we are going to have a kind of low-level very informal civil war for many decades to come, as Red America and Blue America increasingly come to the conclusion that they don’t want to live with each other any more, but can find no way, either practically or emotionally, to break up.

We’re in an old-style Catholic marriage with the fascists, and that relationship is going to become as impossibly bitter as that kind of arrangement becomes, when neither party can stand the other any more, but there’s still no way out.

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