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Response To Robert Bateman Concerning Guns
Thursday 2013-12-5
Synopsis: Bateman is a troll

By way of preliminaries, I had promised to craft more detailed response to Mr. Bateman, but the context of the promise is this comment.

When my son Daniel was in the USMC (part of which was a combat tour) I followed the Small Wars Journal and associated writers so that I could monitor the silliness. It was an exercise in self serving navel gazing and pedantry. Bateman was among those who spent time on those pages writing worthless garbage for others to ingest. I've seen his stuff before.

Bateman wants very badly to be more handsome, younger, more important and smarter than he really is. And he wants people to pay attention. Thus, when he would write and it seemed that no one was paying attention, he would then seed it with something really, really outlandish and ridiculous so that people would pay attention to him.

He isn't so much an ideologue as he is an attention hound who wants everyone to look at him even if you find him grotesque. Rather than a stooge, he is like a misbehaving child who throws tantrums in front of important people.

Rehearsing the subject which initially brought about this charge, Robert Bateman penned a piece in Esquire in which he bolstered his credentials as a collectivist. Basing his diatribe on a recent shooting over a college football game, he outlines his plans for gun control. Here are some excerpts from his commentary.

My entire adult life has been dedicated to the deliberate management of violence. There are no two ways around that fact. My job, at the end of the day, is about killing. I orchestrate violence.

I am not proud of that fact. Indeed, I am often torn-up by the realization that not only is this my job, but that I am really good at my job. But my profession is about directed violence on behalf of the nation. What is happening inside our country is random and disgusting, and living here in England I am at a complete loss as to how to explain this at all. In 2011 the number of gun deaths in the United States was 10.3 per 100,000 citizens. In 2010 that statistic in the UK was 0.25. And do not even try to tell me that the British are not as inclined to violence or that their culture is so different from ours that this difference makes sense. I can say nothing when my British officers ask me about these things, because it is the law.

Turning his attention to Heller v. D.C., he makes some remarks concerning the second amendment.

But just so we are all clear on this, let me spell it out for the rest of you. During the American Civil War, a topic about which I know a little bit, we had a system of state militias. They formed the basis of the army that saved the United States. For most of the first year, and well into the second, many of the units raised by the states were created entirely or in part from militia units that predated the war. But even when partially "regulated," militias are sloppy things.

Which is why, in 1903 Congress passed the Militia Act. Friends, if you have not read it I'll just tell you: As of 1903, the "militia" has been known as the National Guard.

Bateman then turns attention to his proposals.

The only guns permitted will be the following:

a. Smoothbore or Rifled muzzle-loading blackpowder muskets. No 7-11 in history has ever been held up with one of these.

b. Double-barrel breech-loading shotguns. Hunting with these is valid.

c. Bolt-action rifles with a magazine capacity no greater than five rounds. Like I said, hunting is valid. But if you cannot bring down a defenseless deer in under five rounds, then you have no fking reason to be holding a killing tool in the first place.

2. We will pry your gun from your cold, dead, fingers. That is because I am willing to wait until you die, hopefully of natural causes. Guns, except for the three approved categories, cannot be inherited. When you die your weapons must be turned into the local police department, which will then destroy them. (Weapons of historical significance will be de-milled, but may be preserved.)

[ ... ]

4. We will submit a new tax on ammunition. In the first two years it will be 400 percent of the current retail cost of that type of ammunition. (Exemptions for the ammo used by the approved weapons.) Thereafter it will increase by 20 percent per year.

You've seen enough to get the picture. A number of technical responses may be offered to Bateman. For example, Bob Owens has a takedown of the notion that well-regulated means under government control. Directing his instruction at Bateman, David Codrea remarks:

As for who is protected by the Second Amendment, it's the people, just like it says. Alexander Hamilton addressed "well regulated" in The Federalist No. 29, conceding "To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions, as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss...Little more can reasonably be aimed at, with respect to the people at large, than to have them properly armed and equipped..."

There are other responses across the web. But mostly they are aimed at the content of Bateman's commentary, which is good analysis technique, but there is more to understanding Mr. Bateman and why he wrote this diatribe.

Several years ago I frequented the pages of the Small Wars Journal. I linked them often and was linked by editors. Mostly what undergirded my advocacy was a concern over my son and his colleagues in the U.S. Marine Corps. The 2/6 infantry was soon to deploy to Fallujah, and I took a great interest in studying how the Marines did things, where they were going, and in watching the progress of the Battalion.

It was a hard time and I spent many hours awake (while other men were asleep), waiting at my door in the dark for that Marine Corps officer and Chaplain (who never came). It was also a rich time in some ways. I had shot guns my whole life, but I had not purchased an AR-15 until then and Daniel taught me to shoot the way the Marines taught him to shoot, i.e., what some might call aggressive, plates-forward stance. It came naturally to me. Still, the hard and bitter times were far weightier than any good times from it.

During this misadventure, I was unfortunately introduced to Mr. Bateman on the pages of the Small Wars Journal blog. I invite you to study his prose. Don't take my word for what I have said and am about to say. Read until you simply cannot stand it any more. He is a scholar, and warrior, and he is good at what he does, and he is great at what he does, and he laments the evil, and he advises and counsels the best, and everyone listens to him, and he knows virtually everything. If you don't believe me, just listen to him tell you that himself.

Bateman can only go so long without the attention he so richly deserves, though. When things get a bit quiet and he wants to shore up his credentials once again, he starts fights with men of notoriety so that they will respond and give him the press he's after. The fight between him and Victor Davis Hanson (see here, here, and here) eventually bored Hanson, it appears, and anyway Bateman was highly over-matched.

Bateman goes into a fury over fairly well established facts like the idea that the Western way of war is different. I've commented in a pedestrian way on that same issue, but again, I am under the impression that this is fairly well established. Either way, Bateman got the attention he wanted, and he was eventually reduced to personal attacks and name calling, with commenters telling him he was acting like a juvenile.

It doesn't stop there. AtZero Anthropology (and I make no claims to a knowledge of what this site advocates or the subject of the disagreement), one author had finally had enough of Bateman, and responded this way. First, Bateman's comment, and then the response.


Well, at least I now know that you, at least, see what I type. That evidence, at least, now exists for your readers. As does the fact that you ban free speech on your site. Since your readers now see that you openly posted, "This is from the man who is now claiming that I "silenced" him and tried to avoid him challenging my ideas. Of course, he is saying that in private, because he has been banned from this blog and has sent four more messages nonetheless (not included in the list above)."

Well Max, I really could not contrive a confession of oppression of free speech or discourse any more clearly than the way you just laid it out for your readers. Well played son. Well played indeed. "He claimed I 'silenced' him" and "he has been banned" are wonderfully juxtaposed.

"OPEN" Anthropology.

Regards Max. And I apologize for the future. Not really my fault. But I am sorry nonetheless.



You apologize for the future. It was worth approving your message just so that others can see the veiled threat.

It is OPEN Anthropology...just no longer open to you, and your kind. You had your say, and became repetitive, and rather obnoxious, especially as you turned some of your comments on this blog into ad hominem attacks toward someone (me) who had been very analytical, even handed, calm, and reasonable with you. But then the military wolf in sheep's clothing is all ready to pounce, eh Bob?

Remember, you have a right to free speech. But not on this blog: it is a privilege, and you abused it.

To the notion that Bateman has been "silenced" on that blog, the author lists 32 comments from Bateman approved by the editors. The straw that broke the camel's back was this comment:

...your apparent lack of eductation (sic) on military affairs and international relations. But then, of course, you are a minor teacher without a single published monograph, so I suppose you have to try and make your academic mark somewhere, eh? Anything for tenure.

The final remarks by the author are telling:

Not only is it ad hominem, it is a basic lie. Mission accomplished, Bob, you live up to the values of your institution. An academic, you are not, not even a good poser and pretender.

Well, Bob, you wanted attention, now you got it. You have all of our attention now, with your very own post on this blog, all about you. Is this what you wanted?

Why yes, that's exactly what Bob wanted. He got his attention, and you spent your time responding to this narcissist. Perhaps I'm doing the same thing, but if enough people understand who Bateman really is, then my ordeal will have been worth it.

Bob's outlandish, exaggerated, extremist prose is his hallmark. It helps with the attention. Consider:

My entree was, "I think that Robert E. Lee, as a traitor and betrayer of his solemn oath before God and the Constitution, was a much greater terrorist than Osama Bin Ladin... after all, Lee killed many more Americans than Bin Ladin, and almost destroyed the United States. What do you think?"

Yeah, I flunked "Subtle 101" in High School. Oh well. Like I said, I was not in a good place.

But the fact is that there was nothing that any of these men, and they were all men, could say in honest denial to my assertion. They sputtered and growled, spouted and shouted, but not once did it end well for them on any level. You see, if they were "unreconstructed rebels," well then I was something almost none of them had ever experienced, an "unreconstructed Yankee."

So that you understand him, he spells it out for you. He is not just a narcissist, he is a narcissist with an agenda (oops, that may not be so good for a dispassionate "historian," no?). And his collectivist tendencies are usually obvious by the folks he hangs with. For instance, a search of "Bateman" at CNAS (the center that advises Obama on foreign policy) turns up some attention there too.

Now based on the discussion above, consider his recommendation to end ownership of weapons at death. Does anyone really think that this could ever obtain in America? Men who have spent $20,000, or $30,000 or $40,000 or more on guns, scopes, optics and ammunition, and who have taught their sons to use those weapons for self defense and bonded by hunting game with those guns, are expected to turn over those weapons to the government to be cut up with a torch rather than turn them over to their sons as a heritage!

Does Bateman know what he is proposing for the armed forces and police of America in the coming years under such a protocol? Of course he does. And the irony is that he claims to loath violence. Does Bateman know that it would take a violation of Posse Comitatus to even try to pull something like this off, breaking the law of the land? Of course he does. And does he know that tens or hundreds of thousands of men would perish as a result of his proposals?

Yes. And thus has Bateman shored up his progressive credentials one more time, and gotten the attention he so desperately wants, all at the same time. In the future, pay no attention to Mr. Bateman. He's a publicity hound and attention seeker, and uses inflammatory and exaggerated rhetoric to evoke responses. The internet calls this a "troll." It's just that he's a troll with credentials - and he's an expert on everything. If you don't believe it, just ask him.