01 March 2013
An answer to 'molon labe'
As I mentioned in one of yesterday's posts, the Greek phrase molon labe ("come and take it") is a popular motto among today's gun-rights extremists. According to legend, it's the challenge King Leonidas of Sparta issued to the Persians before the battle of Thermopylae when the invaders demanded that the Spartans give up their weapons. By extension, it's the challenge issued by the NRA and its sympathizers to the likes of President Obama or Governor Cuomo of New York or whoever supposedly wants to confiscate guns. Big words, but I'm probably not the first writer to recall that the Persians did end up taking those weapons, and from the Spartans' cold dead hands, too. But didn't the Spartans exact such a toll in the process that the Persians backed off the conquest of Greece? I'm afraid not. It took a naval battle led by the Athenians, the democrats of their time, and a subsequent land battle to thwart the forces of Xerxes. So all an American of 2013 is really saying when he shows off his Greek erudition at a gun-rights rally is that he and his ilk will exact a toll on whoever dares come to take their guns. I doubt they even mean to say that they intend to die to the last man, Spartan style. I'm not even sure of what they expect to face, since despite their fantasies of ruthless or mindless hordes besieging them they still presumably believe a government of liberal Democrats to be a bunch of wimps -- unless they see today's Democrats as hardened Bolsheviks under their compassionate masks. In short, they're a confused bunch if they think to deter anyone by invoking Thermopylae. The gesture only proves their spite.