“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

  Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, writing on Stalin’s gulags

Everyone wants their children to be safe.  I expect that no one who hasn’t experienced the tragedy of losing a child can truly imagine what that must be like; I’m sure it must be like the lights going out.

How shall we respond?  What do we want?

Across the pond, the British government successfully rode the 1987 Hungerford Massacre to the implementation of a ban on private ownership of semiautomatic rifles.  It is clear that this government intends to do the same.  It is also clear that, in this effort, the media are eager handmaidens.  Various pundits, and even NBC sportscasters, treat us to sponsored rants about the need for gun control, frequently asking “Why does anyone need this type of weapon?  It is meant only for killing humans.”  Morning Joe himself (NBC again) went on a rant just this morning (12/17).

Anyone who has studied history knows that governments are responsible for the most killing.  Not the lack of government, but government itself.  Individuals or small groups might start small conflicts, and might even engage in local purges or ethnic cleansing, but only governments can start wars.  Only governments can afford to sustain wars.  Only governments can kill millions and destroy entire societies.  And they have.  Haven’t they?  The ruling power always uses force, deadly force if necessary, to retain power, if they can.  Always.

Invitation:  someone please use the comments section below and tell me “that sort of thing can’t happen here.”  Please.  I will begin my reply to you by asking you to read “Ordinary Men“.  It’s only ten bucks.  The we can talk some more.

While it is a tragedy of historic proportions that so many innocent lives were stolen and snuffed out, it would be a greater tragedy still if an entire society used its own grief to start down the path to total darkness.  A path to a place to which history already knows the way, to a place of the greatest darkness of all.

What do you really want for your children?  You and your children may “burn in the camp later” if you wish.  You may not take me and mine with you.