Friday, January 25, 2013


Lessons of Athens, TN

In "Some Lessons of 'Unintended Consequences' " I wrote:
I also learned about the inspiring story of the Battle of Athens from Ross' book. In 1946, WW II vets and other locals successfully took up arms against a corrupt, local Democratic Party regime in Athens, TN, the county seat of McMinn County.
In a world where so many people are passive and disengaged from the major questions of political and social life, I expect I will always find righteous resistance to be inspirational. Yet, I am also keenly aware, that violent resistance is almost always a blind alley, which typically empowers not necessarily the kindest or most just among us but rather those who are adept at inflicting or orchestrating violence.

I was reminded of this recently while reading some of the post-Newtown massacre gun rights discussions. Unintended Consequences is, of course, an ardently pro-gun novel and it is therefore no coincidence that the story of the Battle of Athens appears on a lot of pro-gun web sites. While I was unsuccessful in verifying the provenance of an op-ed concerning the Athens revolt attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, I did find an article in the New York Times (Jan. 12, 1947; p. 6) entitled "Athens, Tenn., Regime Set Up by GI's Falls." It reports:
The unofficial organization of the veterans is torn by dissension.

Four of the five leaders of the veterans movement declared in an open letter yesterday:

"We abolished one machine only to replace it with another and more powerful one in the making."

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