According to Josh Horwitz, the idea of violent insurrection against the American government is at the heart of American gun culture where weapons are purchased for fear of government tyranny not self defense, individuals get to decide what’s considered tyranny, guns are seen as a tool for political dissent and people with guns will get to set the political agenda and settle political disputes. He states that “White men, especially, are feeling that the political reins of power are pulling away from them, and their grip on power is falling away. Guns are a way to exercise power…” He insinuates that insurrectionists are traitors not patriots and that the purpose of the right to own a firearm cannot be to kill government officers. (Guns are a way to exercise power: how the idea of overthrowing the government became mainstream by Lois Beckett in an interview of Josh Horwitz 10/18/2020 http://www.theguardian.com)
Gun culture and toxic masculinity are shaping the perceptions that underly false patriotism. According to Danielle Campoamor, “…we can’t deny that systemic issues like racism, misogyny and toxic masculinity all work to radicalize young men to carry out massive acts of violence and that politicians turn a blind eye to these factors in order to preserve the American gun culture they so cherish.” Gun culture and toxic masculinity embolden “…young men to use violence to solve problems, whether those problems are perceived or real, …half of all gun owners say gun ownership is an important part of their identity, and guns are often made synonymous with manhood, strength, and the ability to dominate others.” Sadly, “…the fangs of the gun culture and its ties to toxic masculinity and misogyny impact every young person…” (I Am So Tired of Shouting Into the Void About America’s Young Men and Their Guns by Danielle Campoamor 4/16/2021 cosmopolitan.com). Now guns and toxic masculinity are the basis of false patriotism.
To me, a true patriot cares for their family, works hard, pays their fair share in taxes, serves their country and helps others, while false patriots wave flags and intimidate others by carrying weapons into communities to compensate for their feelings of powerlessness. This false patriotism is destroying America. Sadly, “In recent decades many Americans have conflated liberty with selfishness, adopting the notion that freedoms are self-sustaining, that liberty is a birthright that no longer requires sacrifice or collective action. In turn, this attitude has denigrated the institutions and traditions that yielded our freedoms in the first place and served as the connective tissue holding the nation together” (The Myth – and Liability – of America’s Obsession with Rugged Individualism by Scott Galloway 3/15/2021 marker.medium.com). These estranged, disaffected, white men have lost their way. They are no longer citizen in good standing. They are anti-American and anti-democracy and they don’t know it! Gun culture, toxic masculinity and false patriotism are dangerous to America and democracy!