The Parable of the Knife

With the President claiming, and Congress going out of its way to affirm, the executive’s authority to detain and even kill U.S. citizens without due process, it’s difficult to imagine what more is needed to convince those who doubt that tyranny is a real danger in America.

Theoretically, the courts might stand in the way of despotism, but the courts don’t have the power either of the purse or of the gun, and a justice or two can be disappeared if necessary.

Theoretically, an America in which the President can order executions and unlimited detentions is different than a dictatorship because we elect the President. But our connection to the choosing of the President is tenuous at best, and none of us can say with any authority that his vote has even been counted. Besides, the process of electing a President is quaint and antiquated, and can be eliminated in the interest of security. Changes will be made after the Reichstag burns. 

(Has there ever been a republic that has fallen into despotism without some argument that it is necessary to “save” the republic?)

Some people trust the President to do the right thing. These people are not students of history, either recent or distant. Not only has the present administration lied to us and trampled our rights in the name of safety, but its predecessor did as well; moreover, the Founders recognized that the tendency of government is to seize more power at the expense of liberty. The Constitution was designed as a leash on this tendency, but the Founders didn’t contemplate that the Constitution would work forever, and they have been proven correct: we are less free, the Bill of Rights means less, every year.

This post is not for those who think that an American dictatorship is an impossibility; nor is it for those who think that an America dictatorship is an impossibility in our lifetime.

This post is not for those who think that American citizens don’t have the responsibility to try to prevent that happening; nor is it for those who think that violence is not an appropriate response to tyranny.

This post is for those who recognize that there is some threat (however small) of an American dictatorship in our lifetime, that it is the responsibility of the People to try to prevent that, and that violence may be appropriate to do so, but who fear that the sort of weapons still legally available to us would not be up to the task.

Here is what I mean by “not up to the task” (not that Evan and Scott agree with the proposition that violence in defense of liberty might be necessary):

Here is The Parable of the Knife:

A martial-arts instructor was training a mixed class of students. One was a large man who had fought competitively. Another was a new student, a petite woman who wanted an introduction to self defense.

With the rest of the class watching, the master gave the two students their instructions: he was to try to take control of her and she was to resist. The man nodded and rushed at the woman. She swung at him, but he overpowered her, locked his arms around her, and picked her up off the ground. With her arms pinioned, she kicked at him and tried to headbutt him, but he ducked his head and ignored her kicks.

“Very good,” said the master, and the man put the woman down.

From his pocket the master produced a small folding knife. He snapped the short blade open, and handed the knife to the woman.

“Now again,” said the master.

The large man shook his head. “No sir,” he said.