I’ve been thinking about learning how to fire a gun, maybe even buying one. Now if you are a lifelong conservative, Red State dweller, and NRA member, you might be thinking, “Big yawn. What’s next? She’ll be telling us what she had for breakfast?”
So let me try to convey to you the enormousness, the Alice in Wonderland quality of my even posing the question, something I’ve never, ever considered in my life. No one I know owns a gun. I’ve never seen a gun (well on a holster of a police officer but I never wanted to get up close and personal with it). I have given lots of good money over the years for gun control. Learning to fire a gun seems as ludicrous as deciding to take up brain surgery.
But, I am rethinking absolutely everything. There is not a single thing that I believed, that I held absolute and holy, that is not up for grabs. My brain is in a tizzy 24/7 and I don’t know if up is down, or if east is west.
And the thought about a gun just came to me last week when I was listening to talk radio. A caller related how an armed citizen in the South stopped a take over robbery in a fast food restaurant. A light went on in my head. Suddenly I realized that the Red States may be on to something: the police are strongly supported, the citizens have guns, and, therefore, the gangsters may be a little reluctant to take over the local Burger King.
Contrast that to the Blue States where few liberals own guns and the police are being emasculated. You may have heard of the horrendous case in Oakland where four cops were killed by a known felon, on a parole violation for child rape. But the powers that be in Oakland sent out the message to the police to make nice and not scare the populace, so the officers never drew their guns when approaching this felon. (Anyone else notice how the Left is slowly but surely disarming the police and military, situation-by-situation?) When I expressed my heartfelt grief to a friend about the deaths of these brave officers, he said, “The man who shot them was a human being too.”
(I’d like to say that, as a psychotherapist, I responded in a sophisticated and psychologically crafty manner. No such luck. I almost blew a gasket, turned bright red, and said with barely contained anger, “He lost his claim to be human when he raped a child.” To the friend’s credit — and perhaps some fear on his part — he shut up.)
So what I realized during the talk show is that in places like Berkeley, only the criminals have the power. Not only do they have the power of guns, they are supported by several thousand brainwashed zombies who give the green light to criminals because they are the victims of someone else’s “privilege” and “supremacy” and “imperialism.” (Although I was a leftist until recently, I was the rare exception: I never excused crime because of the bad guy’s race, creed, age, sex, or daddy being a meanie.)
I recall vividly what a Berkeley police officer once told me:
“Berkeley is a city of victims. You try to understand the street people and the criminals and sit down and talk to them and then they hit you on the head and steal your purse. The police come and then you refuse to press charges. The criminals know this and prey on you.”
And he’s right: almost everyone I know has been a victim of some awful crime, from being in restaurants during takeover robberies (not uncommon here), to being robbed at gunpoint, to being assaulted for no other reason except a thrill for the assailants. A neighbor, who had lived all over the world, once said to me, “Berkeley is the most dangerous place I’ve ever lived.” Her husband was robbed at gunpoint as were almost all her friends. She couldn’t wait to get out of here.
I wish I could say I’m an exception to the victim rule. But several years ago I was coming out of a restaurant in a decent area and was mugged. As Gavin de Becker states in his seminal book, The Gift of Fear, (which I, unfortunately, read after the fact), victims generally sense when they’re about to be victimized but ignore the signs in order to be nice and not judgmental. This was my situation exactly. I could tell right away that the guy looked sinister. But it was a major street, at high noon, and I didn’t want to seem racist, so I turned the corner a few feet to reach my car, and a minute later, had my purse stolen as well as all my feelings of being safe in the world.
I’ll spare you (and me) the horrible details, but the incident ended with my having a broken nose and two black eyes, and needing surgery for the nose several days later. People wrote bad checks and stole rental cars in my name for a year afterwards. I developed a fear not only of people, but of the phone and the mail, as every day was another reminder of what happened.
Witness the response of a left wing friend, Judy, when I told her I was mugged. She said, and I quote, “I don’t think what you went through was so bad. And anyway he was a victim too.” (Maybe it’s a good thing I wasn’t armed back then.)
So I’m asking myself whether I should become armed, and I’m also wondering why so many “educated” people (I might have just answered my own question) put up with crime infested streets? Why are the biggest protests against the cops? Why are the innocent viewed as guilty, and the guilty innocent? Why is no one up in arms about liberals literally bleeding?
Then it occurred to me: Stockholm Syndrome, the same brainwashing that turned Berkeley resident Patty Hearst into Tania the bank robber. She was tortured, sexually abused, and kept in isolation by the far left group, the Symbionese Liberation Army (kissing cousins of Bill and Bernadine’s Weather Underground). Successfully brainwashed, she joined their twisted and sick “army.”
In the real Stockholm, the hostages were locked in a vault for days, came to “love” their captors in that perverted way that an abused woman loves her husband, and refused to testify against them in court. One even became engaged to her captor.
SS (good acronym, huh?) is rooted in a basic, primordial instinct for self protection in the wake of extraordinary trauma and terror. To survive, the victim identifies with the captors and merges psychologically with them. But SS takes on a life of its own when victims stop seeing their own humanity and want only to serve the abuser.
Living in places like Berkeley, being force fed propaganda, with police afraid to protect you, your friends unsympathetic, and no one armed, SS can spread like a virus. What starts out as compassion morphs into complicity. Occasionally there may be someone, like me, who snaps out of the trance they’ve been in for decades. After all, Tania woke up and became Patty Hearst again and, interestingly, married her bodyguard. (I bet that they own a whole lot of weapons.) But she had to leave Berkeley for a leafy, sheltered life elsewhere to do this.
But then again, I never bought into the notion of collective guilt, that groups of people are guilty because of the color of their skin, and individuals are exonerated because of some protected victim status. I’m the rare bird. In Berkeley, most people are so over identified with their ideology, that their logical, questioning minds have flown the coop along with a God-given knowledge, possessed by every 5 year old, of right and wrong.
As a good, loyal liberal, I always expected others to take care of me. If I gave my unqualified loyalty to the system, I could sleep well at night. But now, with victims left bleeding, a dangerously naive government, and sheep like masses, I see the absurdity of my thinking.
I heard a philosopher once say that one of the biggest existential tasks of life is giving up the fantasy of the ultimate rescuer. Liberalism reinforced this fantasy for me, as it does for so many others. Now I see the truth: We come into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. When we live our lives in the back seat of the car expecting Daddy to drive us, we only have a child’s view of the world.
On that very dark day in November years ago when I became an object of someone’s evil and inhumanity, I glimpsed a truth I never wanted to see: that there really is no protection, not in the way I had always thought, not by other flawed humans. I didn’t know what to do with this insight until 1 1/2 years ago when I discovered that there were others out there like me, that there was something called conservatism, and now slowly but surely the pieces are coming together for me, one by one.
As I continue on the path to independence and personal responsibility, perhaps looking to myself for protection is another step on my journey.