Ron Paul once said on Meet the Press that in the first decade of the twenty-first century, America had become a fascist country. When I think of the word “fascist” I think of Hitler, Mussolini, etc. So far, we’re not at that point. However, it is remarkable how the actions of 19 terrorists with box-cutter knives have, in the decade since 9/11, shaped the lives and careers of millions of Americans.

A collection of handguns. Credit: Joshuashearn/Wikimedia Commons

We now live in a Fourth-Amendment-gutted surveillance state, whereby some citizens of this nation actually make their livelihoods from spying on other citizens. We now live in a state of perpetual war, with an even larger number of Americans getting their livelihoods from the military-industrial complex.

Additionally, Tea Partiers and Occupiers notwithstanding, we also live in an age with a heck of a lot of platform citizens: folks who just want the trains to run on time, and to be told by someone else in authority what time to arrive and what to wear. (To me, gripers who gripe over affirmative action in higher education are the ultimate platform citizens: after all, they did what they “were supposed to do” to get into the law school of their choice, for instance. They arrived at the platform as they were directed, only to discover, lo and behold, that not everyone believes that the train of an entire profession – and one tasked with safeguarding our liberty – should be filled entirely with people from the same demographic group. These folks are ticked that they will have to wait on the platform for ten minutes for the next train.)

So, in some senses, Ron Paul was and is right to raise alarm about the state of our freedom. Though we are not in a fascist state, I would argue that America has indeed crossed the Rubicon into proto-fascism. Crossing back from this time of proto-fascism will require a heck of a lot more than the fantasy of returning America to Mount Vernon and Monticello, with their slave quarters still intact to document the tyranny of slavery.

For example, whenever I hear someone argue that U.S. Senate reform – achieving representational fairness in the Senate by providing for voluntary de-linkage from state-based representation – will upend our federal system and trample upon the rights of states, I am immediately reminded of Janet Jackson’s 1986 hit song: What Have You Done For Me Lately.

Really, what has the United States Senate and its utterly inequitable system of representation done to stem America’s descent into proto-fascism? Other than helping to secure billions for bridges to nowhere in Alaska, what has the U.S. Senate done, as an institution, to safeguard the rights of states? What has the U.S. Senate done as an institution, more so than the House of Representatives, to secure the Tenth Amendment?

And yet, it’s likely that the Mount Vernon types will cling to the idea that the Senate is the linchpin that will prevent America crossing the other Rubicon from proto-fascism into outright fascism. Given the recent collective, bipartisan outrage of senators venting their anger at journalists and whistleblowers who had the audacity to think that the American people have a right to know when their own government is taking them to war against a foreign country – in this case a cyber war on Iran – anyone who thinks the United States Senate, as an institution, is our bulwark against federal government tyranny should disabuse themselves of the fantasy.

And it is precisely that question of fantasy, specifically fantastical notions about safeguarding liberty, which brings us to one of the greatest controversies of the day: guns and the Second Amendment.

Much has been written about the waning support over the last twenty years for gun control measures, despite the ongoing massacres that dot the national landscape. The operating theory is that a slim majority of Americans favor basic gun ownership rights because they fear without such rights, only the criminals will have guns, leaving the rest of us hostage to their whims. Other Americans, like the rapper Ice-T, hold that the main reason so many Americans “cling to their guns” is to prevent tyranny. As Ice-T told an interviewer, “It’s part of our Constitution. You know, the right to bear arms because that’s the last form of defense against tyranny. Not to hunt…it’s to protect yourself from the police.” Charlton Heston couldn’t have said it better.

Most Americans – according to polls, a slim majority – have bought into these lines of argument. Yet the question Americans ask who have indeed bought into the gun rights rationale is this: How are average law-abiding citizens supposed to “protect” themselves from police – federal, state or local? If you have a legitimate grievance with law enforcement, or government at any level, the democratic, freedom-loving way to address it is through the exercise of your nonviolent constitutional rights, not stockpiling weapons and ammunition in one’s home or property. Reform of tyrannical police departments can happen – look at what Eric Holder’s Justice Department has achieved in New Orleans – but only through peaceful means, not O.K. Corral-style shootouts that Ice-T and the NRA seem to prefer.

Most Americans are indeed peaceful people, so why on earth have so many of them apparently bought into the fantastical concept of freedom from tyranny peddled by the NRA, Ice-T, etc?

Undoubtedly, it has to be because of the reign of terror – domestic terror – that has gripped Americans in the last twenty to thirty years: the terror of not being able to go to school, to your workplace, and now, to a movie theater, without the fear of being caught up in a massacre.

And yet, here’s the dirty little secret that the NRA et al. never want to discuss: whatever the mental states they may be in, mass killers are by definition, first and foremost, tyrannical personalities. As now countless psychiatrists have attested, most people who suffer from mental illness do not go out and commit mass murders. But there are indeed tyrannical personality types all around us, and most of them are not suffering from any mental disorder. The ones that do develop a mental illness are the ones that are prone to actually carrying out acts of mass murder on real people, as opposed to their tyrannical personality brethren, who are not mentally ill, and who are still able to limit their tyrannical impulses to the fantasy realm: shooting targets at a firing range, or on a computer screen, or at innocent animals, simply because they take pleasure in it.

People who take pleasure in fantasizing about the taking of human life and dominating other people – about the ability to literally play God, the giver of life and death, in the face of another human being – are tyrants, plain and simple.

Sure, they may not have the political acumen necessary to acquire political power, but they will live out their sick lives as best they can, indulging their fantasies of total domination over others on a strictly micro-level: a shooting range, a gun show, etc.

It’s no wonder why America was not able to stem this slide into proto-fascism in the post-9/11 era: for years, so many Americans have been taking lessons, complete with notepads in hand, from the micro-tyrants among us.

Now, in addition to the proto-fascism of Big Brother and the perpetual state of war, we now how outright tyranny on Main Street USA: any 24-year-old without a criminal record can indulge his tyrannical impulses at the moment of his choosing. That is to say, any 24-year-old can become – at least for a set number of people in a movie theater – the Hitler, Ratko Mladicor Pol Pot he always wanted to be. Or, as the case may be, “Joker” in the movie Batman.

Given the number of massacres taking place in our society, it’s clear that micro-tyrants with mental illness are able to create macro-tyranny for the rest of us. Let’s be clear, their micro-tyrant brethren, without mental illness, have helped them every step of the way.

What is frightening to contemplate is this: If the Second Amendment remains part of the U.S. Constitution in the years and decades to come, as the failed gun control lobby and its supporters evidently want, what is to prevent an even further spiral into the macro-tyranny of micro-tyrants? According to the statistics I’ve read, even when and where stricter gun laws are in place, they don’t make a dent in gun violence. At least the acknowledgement of those statistics by the American public is an indication that most Americans are still, even after all this trauma, capable of being rational about this subject.

The task at hand for those of us who want the Second Amendment repealed, and for the eventual abolition of all civilian firearms in this country – gargantuan a task as it may be – is to convince those rational Americans that year after bloody year of taking lessons on the dangers of tyranny from men with thinly-controlled tyrannical impulses themselves has – go figure – proven disastrous for our national safety and freedom.

Timothy Villareal is a Miami-based writer. He blogs at

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