Political Animal


May 06, 2013 5:03 PM The Non-Violent March To Threaten Violence

By Ed Kilgore

As readers have probably noticed, I’m on something of a campaign the last few days to train a spotlight on the revolutionary rhetoric and gun-brandishing of many Second Amendment activists and “constitutional conservatives,” which has leeched over into standard conservative and GOP messaging to an alarming degree. Like anyone shining a spotlight into previously dark shadows, I’m not always familiar with what I’m seeing. That’s definitely the case with Adam Kokesh, an Iraq War vet and omni-libertarian who is planning a non-violent march of armed citizens on Washington for Independence Day to show, best I can tell, that resistance to the demands of people like him that government radically retract its size and scope will eventually face real fire. Here’s Paul Szoldra’s write-up of Kokesh’s scheme at Business Insider:

Adam Kokesh, 31, is planning a July 4 rally of pro-gun activists openly carrying rifles from Virginia to Washington as an act of “civil disobedience.” The plan, according to his Facebook event page, is to march across Memorial Bridge with rifles loaded and slung across the back “to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated [and] cower in submission to tyranny.”
The invite continues, stating, ” … This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent.”
Kokesh writes that if 10,000 attendees RSVP by June 1st, “we have the critical mass necessary to pull this off.” He said he wants to have at least 1,000 actually marching in the event, and as of this writing, more than 1,400 have said they were going.

As the headline at Karoli’s post on this plan at Crooks & Liars rightly says: “Marching On DC With Loaded Rifles: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”

But even if no violence ensues, this exercise is actually typical of an awful lot of the stockpiling-guns-to-resist-tyranny talk on the Right (and on rare occasions, the Left) these days. It’s actually the inverse of what Kokesh says: it’s an effort to intimidate political opponents with the threat, if not the immediate actuality, of violence. Otherwise, what’s the point of carrying guns to your nonviolent protest? The point, it seems clear, is to make extraconstitutional claims for the legitimacy of the “constitutional” protests against Big Government. We can peacefully debate, the potential “armed resistance” forces suggest, this or that aspect of gun regulation or Obamacare or drone policy or taxes or “welfare looters” via conventional politics. But in the end, our conviction that your “progressive policies” represent “tyranny” trumps all civil discourse, and that’s when the shooting may start.

And that, of course, is why this sort of talk is not limited to anarchists or even to the kind of “constitutional conservatives” who really do think the policies of Calvin Coolidge or Grover Cleveland or the doctrines of John C. Calhoun came down from heaven and were enshrined eternally by the Declaration of Independence. Consciously or unconsciously, regular conservative politicians see this sort of militancy as a crucial difference-maker (or in times of Democratic political success, an “equalizer”), and so they exploit it. It’s all fun and games until people start getting killed.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Curmudgeon on May 06, 2013 5:39 PM:

    They tried that whole "armed rebellion against the tyranny of the government" schtick back in 1865 and it didn't work out too well. This won't either, although some people may end up dead from it before the current version is over.

    I guarantee that every last one of these knuckleheads sees himself as some kind of hero out of legend, standing bravely at the barricades against the faceless hordes of evil. What people in the real world see is a bunch of losers clutching their popguns to their chests like some sad simulacrum of the girlfriends they never had.

    The only people I despise more are the ones who put them up to it, the soulless sociopaths who take advantage of the ignorant and victimized to churn up this completely bogus "revolution" for their own entertainment and enrichment. May they rot in the eternal fires.

    So have your little march, guys. And if there's any shooting, don't worry about not understanding what "treason and sedition" means in your indictment. That's what your constitutionally-mandated free lawyer paid for at government expense is there to explain to you. You might even understand it afterwards, but I doubt it.

  • buggy ding dong on May 06, 2013 5:41 PM:

    How would our founding fathers have reacted to an armed political mob marching on the Capitol? Or, how would President Nixon handled 10,000 anti-war (or Black Panther) activists marching on DC? Or C Plus Augustus?

    I'll hang up and listen.

  • Ronald on May 06, 2013 5:55 PM:

    Good article, keep shining that light.

    I wonder when the FBI, the NYPD, and others will start treating groups like this the same way they treated the Occupy protesters...

    Yeah...1500+ gun-crazed, 'librul-hatin', 'My way or the Highway', Fox news fed men and women with armed weapons... What an invitation to utter fucking chaos. And it will be on TV, too.

    Fucking Oi.

  • stevio on May 06, 2013 6:03 PM:

    Holy Toledo. I hope one of these dorks doesn't trip and start the fireworks... If i were a maniacal anti-government type I'd open-up on these guys hoping the resulting carnage would be blamed on Benghazi terrorists from Massachusetts or Paris...

  • Michael7843853 on May 06, 2013 7:10 PM:

    The shadows haven't been all that dark, some are only lately been using a flashlight.

    Perhaps these new illuminators are as ominous as any of it. They have not got to their positions by going too far out on a limb or without having some skill at reading the crepuscular signs.

  • Richard W. Crews on May 06, 2013 7:34 PM:

    It's NOT about the criminals. It's about the Crazies. It's about our dysfunctional society that is making economic, and therefore social, se3curity very tenuous. It's about the unempowering of the norm; the majority. The rabid right-wing world is not serving the majority and some people strike out. Who? well, it seems like our culture is beating down anyone without both a college degree AND connections. Who? well, this dismal society is not foreign to many, such as racial minorities or the people who were raised in the lower economic classes - so who strikes out in deadly anger or frustration? looks like young middle-class White men, without success in their lives. Then, they see the Power Object, the Fetish, the Idol, The "great Equalizer", the GUN, and they find their tool. We need to drive guns down. Not make them go away - Heck, I have several - but make them less a part of life. Not just in reality, but in games and entertainment. IF we made all semi-autos registered, and gave everyone two years to get theirs registered, it would automatically ( or at least semi-automatically :) ) slow all private party sales - as the linkage would make everyone care more about the path that gun may take. It will impart some responsibility. But the BEST reaction will actually happen when the so-called "patriots" the gunNutZ among us, the idiots who think they know better than the law, will NOT register their guns. They will become criminals, and their guns will be contraband. The guns now won't be out and open, they will be hidden and secret. The "patriots" will be criminals! And they won't be displaying their (smallDick) fetishes; they won't be taking part in (smallDick) open carry BS. The guns won't be displayed in front of their loser sons; in fact, their loser sons will be a weak link in their on-going criminality, and the guns will have to be secret from them - so they don't brag to others - which may bring down a raid, confiscation and denial of future ownership. So the tool for striking out plays a lesser role in their deliriums. This is all good.

  • Richard W. Crews on May 06, 2013 7:41 PM:

    People with guns kill people

    I think the anti-government 2nd Amendment justifications are nonsense. Antiquated nonsense. Fudgin” Branch Dividian Waconess. See how it ends. There ain't a wacko “patriot” in suburbia that has a wife who will live through the toilet not working, much less all dreams held in 401-Ks and equities when your checking account is closed . You think there's someone to shoot at? Tip the couch over in front of the picture window and … ? March on ??? You and what army?:

    Get real? They will drone your posterior while you're sneaking over to the neighbors for a bucket of water while everything you ever planned on dissolves and the world never even notices.

    You tell me what the Federal Government of the United States Of America has to do that will ever get an organized group of NOT-CRAZY people ( I've been to Tea Party big events) to act in an armed manner.
    Then, after you finally stretch out all logic and history, whatever you put up, I will measure against school massacres.

    I propose that semi-auto pistols be illegal. No ammo magazines over 6 rounds - if you can't take that deer down with 6, give it up.

  • Barbara on May 06, 2013 8:56 PM:

    I know this is a small point but he might want to bone up on his history and geography: The border between Virginia and D.C. begins at the low water mark of the Potomac; that is, Memorial Bridge is nearly all if not entirely in D.C. so if you march ACROSS it you are already in the District. Any accident on a bridge between Virginia and D.C. is handled by the D.C. emergency services, even if they have to go to Virginia and turn around and drive back to D.C. to get to it. Just saying that there isn't going to be a showdown at the Lincoln Memorial.

  • srs on May 06, 2013 9:06 PM:

    There should be armed citizens militias out in force to protect all non-violent protesters from police violence and brutality at EVERY major protest. Police and other government thugs need to be taught that their violence and brutality will be met with force.

  • Bob M on May 06, 2013 10:51 PM:

    Kind of like that judge in Huckleberry Finn taunting a mob:

    "Why, a man's safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind—as long as it's daytime and you're not behind him."

  • emjayay on May 07, 2013 12:08 AM:

    What are the laws about openly carrying a gun in Virginia? In DC? I seriously doubt that this will happen at all, but if a bunch - 25 or 50 or 100 or whatever - of these guys marches with their guns, what do the DC Police, maybe with Capitol Police (out of their jurisdiction but maybe they have some kind of deal), and Park Police (they run the mall) do anyway? How would it work out? I'm guessing that if it looks like it's real they will get together and do some planning.

    By the way Park Police aren't the National Park Law Enforcement guys in gray and green you see at national parks, but guys in black carrying serious arms. Some of them are rifle carrying SWAT, and in a case like this they can call in more of them from NYC and SF.

    "This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent.” Well, the various police aren't going to shoot them, but just arrest them. If some protester thinks that can't happen and shoots a cop, he's immediately dead as is anyone nearby who puts their hand on their gun.

    Anyone have any other picture of what would happen? Again, I think it's all bullshit.

  • Neildsmith on May 07, 2013 7:16 AM:

    Some one should set off a bunch of firecrackers around them while they march... maybe they will shoot each other.

    What do I care? We no longer have a unified country with common goals and values. However that happened, it's done. Progressive politics are finished for the time being. I hear this conservative gun nut garbage all day at work. I'm tired of defending the poor and elderly from these predators... especially when so many are poor and elderly themselves. Good luck America, you're gonna need it.

  • Bob h on May 07, 2013 7:34 AM:

    The 82nd Airborne should be waiting for them.

  • paul on May 07, 2013 9:18 AM:

    Armed, check. Unlawfully, check. Organized, check. Publicly threatening the legitimate government, check.

    Funded by a bunch of private-equity types who own the major arms manufacturers, check.

    I think we should bring back the old Merchants of Death moniker.

  • Anonymous on May 07, 2013 9:26 AM:

    @Neildsmith on May 07, 2013 7:16 AM:

    Some one should set off a bunch of firecrackers around them while they march... maybe they will shoot each other...
    What do I care? We no longer have a unified country with common goals and values. However that happened, it's done. Progressive politics are finished for the time being."

    Hmmm...a little too defeatist! I think you are right and wrong. The country is divided now, but I don't think it was an accident. I blame Rupert Murdoch, the political strategy of the GOP and some of the nuttier members of the 1% who are on a personal crusade to save capitalism as they see it by doing whatever they can to weaken labor vs. employers.

    However, Progressive politics are far from dead. President Obama was re-elected, support for equal rights for the LGBT population and gay marriage is large and growing, immigration reform looks increasingly likely and the NRA is facing perhaps the strongest push back in its history.

    Actually, I see this more as a brewing constitutional crisis. Small state representatives are exploiting the disproportionate representation granted them by the constitution to attempt to thwart the will of the majority. The reason they feel obliged to do this is that the majority is becoming increasingly progressive.

  • Speed on May 07, 2013 9:35 AM:

    If the Federal Govt (and the state and local governments) didn't have a decades-long track record of lying to us about almost everything, maybe there wouldn't be so much paranoia out there. You reap what you sow. Go read Wikipedia's articles about government medical and chemical experiments on unwitting Americans during the Cold War. This is not a conspiracy theory; it's a fact.

    I'm actually much more afraid of the unelected government, which is vast and secretive compared to the thin layer of elected officials on top. Why can't liberals snap out of it and stop wasting so much time focusing on the partisan puppet show?

  • Nimmo Null on May 07, 2013 10:46 AM:

    What I'd like to see is this bunch being met on the bridge, not by armed police or the 82nd Airborne, but by 10,000 unarmed citizens chanting "Shame on you".

    Openly carrying guns to make a political statement is an act of implicit intimidation and is profoundly anti-democracy and unAmerican. It should be met with contempt and loathing, not fear.

    If that kind of response could be organized, I'd be there.

  • Buzzed on Beans on May 07, 2013 11:06 AM:

    Sam, you right-wing lunatics are way scarier than any "foreign threat" and in case you haven't noticed, Dumbass (do you mind if I call you Dumbass?) your freedoms are in better shape now, Dumbass, than they were for the eight years preceding, when the occupant of the White House was a white republican jackass.


  • Buzzed on Beans on May 07, 2013 1:32 PM:

    Read the Second Amendment in it's entirety, William Flatt, not just the last half. You know the part I mean...the part about the "well regulated militia."

    Then brush up on some real history, not that revisionist bullshit version of history you right-wing dumbasses (you don't mind if I call you Dumbass, do you?)seem to prefer. I suggest you read up on the Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion. They didn't go so very well for the folks who rebelled.