Gun Control Shootout at the DC Corral
by DANIEL GREENFIELD
January 16, 2013
After years of languishing under the duck boots of gun owners, gun control advocates are dusting off their iPads and heading into the fray. Their renewed excitement has as much to do with the dead kids of Newtown as it does with the prospect of four years of a lame duck leftist who asserts imperial executive authority and uses the Constitution to clean up coffee spills in the Oval Office.
Taking on the NRA with a gun ban, like taking on pro-Israel voters by nominating a Defense Secretary and CIA Director who prefer that Israel not exist, is part of a larger program of wiping out the political influence of the non-left. And the 2nd Amendment haters who were forced to sit at the back of the big government bus so that senators could get elected in the South are now feeling optimistic about their chances of killing another piece of the living Constitution.
The campaign is cheesily predictable. The designated victims are cutting commercials and making public appearances, led by Gabby Giffords, whose great achievement in life is being a famous woman who got shot in the head, making her the Chief of the Victims, for the moment. Sure a Republican judge was killed in that same shooting, but victimhood, like race, is an exclusive club. Just ask RGIII or all the mothers of dead soldiers who weren't interested in hugging Hugo Chavez.
The designated victim, like the ancient saint, is a martyr to a cause. And with the left, the cause is invariably really big government. The suffering of the saintly victims is monetized by the cause as unquestionable moral authority. The victims are designated, made famous and milked for their victimhood, and then the victimhood is bottled into white jars and shipped to Washington D.C.
Americans are suckers for a sob story. But a lot of them are also suckers for personal freedom. Whenever a bullseye is put on freedom for the greater good, two narratives battle it out for the soul of the country. "We have to fix this" and "Leave me alone."
Think of We have to fix this" and "Leave me alone" as the devil and angel on the shoulders of every cartoon character for the last hundred years. "We have to fix this," wears an earnest expression and her appearance is calculated to suggest nurse, teacher or PTA member, when in reality she's usually an Ivy League grad with a lot of time spent in government and political advocacy and whose kids are raised by Elena from Guatemala, whose immigration status is that of Undocumented Democrat.
"We have to fix this" has the manner of a customer service rep who knows why you're getting screwed and whose job is to get you to stop being so angry about it. "We have to fix this" may be a committed leftist, but also knows that most people don't want to hear it. Like all liberal activists, she's a community organizer, and the job of a community organizer, like that of every meeting chairperson ever, is to encourage the people who agree with her to speak and shut up those who don't by either shaming them or tricking them into compromising their position.
This impromptu community organizing goes on everywhere. Many college students graduate already knowing how to manufacture a consensus by controlling the debate. In an environment where all is political and there are more jobs for activists who manufacture narratives than for factory workers who manufacture products, community organizing is an important peer group and life skill. It is what turns the ordinary bland grad with a degree in nothing employable from another intern into a leader with a six figure salary and a chain full of awards.
The other figure on the shoulder is a familiar one. You can see him on the news talk shows where he shows up as the designated target. Usually he wears his best suit, combs his hair and comes prepared to explain why we shouldn't give up our freedoms just because a California Senator has decided that this is her chance to create a lasting legacy over the bodies of dead children.
What follows has as much to do with debate as the time Bush Senior was asked at a presidential debate how he feels personally about the recession. The right answer was "I feel your pain", but the World War II vet had skipped enough of the seventies that he didn't understand that a discussion about the recession, about gun control or obesity was now all about demonstrating sensitivity to designated victims and then monetizing that sensitivity. Clinton got it and became president.
The NRA's infamous press conference was another case of the same thing. The NRA brought reason where the media wanted feeling. The NRA wanted to discuss the reality of gun violence while the media wanted a display of sensitivity by talking about how the NRA was going to fix gun violence by giving up on its civil rights stance of "Leave me alone."
"Leave me alone" is a lonely figure in today's America where the cowboys are gone and the jet pilots are attending sensitivity training on same sex relationships. The national dialogue is dominated by a media whose only message is the incessant chant of, "Let's fix it." And they never notice that the more they fix things, the more broken the country becomes.
But there's still a great deal of visceral sympathy for "Leave it alone" from millions of Americans who have their privacy violated and their rights abridged by government officials every day. They like the thought of a little rebellion, even symbolic, and every time a gun ban is put on the table, they begin buying up the stock of sporting goods stores.
The ordinary Americans may have to account to the government for how he heats his home, mows his yard, feeds his hogs, fuels his car, teaches his kids, sells his crops and fixes his roof, but the 2nd allows him to hang on to the illusion that he is his own master and that at any moment an uprising can sweep away the petty bureaucrats who have their Vibrams on his neck. And maybe one day it can.
The Master of Hope and Change is out to kill any hope that there can ever be any form of relief from total government intervention. O understands the trouble with allowing the peasants to cling to their guns and bibles. The bibles preach a creed other than Obamosity and the guns maintain the illusion that there is any breathing room at all for the ordinary American.
"Let fix it" has been sent out once again to fix this illusion the same way that so many others were fixed, by convincing the populace that life will be better without freedom.
Point to a problem. Chant, "We're better than this." Organize a rally. Make cheerful speeches about the future. Mention the children. Ask, "What kind of world do we want them to grow up in?" Talk about how Europe is ahead of us in this area. Mention a personal tragedy. Close with the theme of how we can fix this one problem, and then when we've fixed it, we can fix all the rest too, one by one down the line like a row of painted ducks in a shooting gallery.
The question is will it work. Will "Let's fix it" or "Leave me alone" win the debate? The media have weighed in on the side of the little government devil. The billionaires are busy funding ads that millionaire celebrities will appear in to demand a plan or have a conversation or any of the other euphemisms for "Let's fix it." But the money and media power of the gun control Goliaths doesn't always carry the day.
The more troubled times are, the more Americans reach for a sense of security. For some that means independence and for others it means dependency. And though the last election might make it seem as if we already had that debate and lost it, it's an ongoing debate and it's been around for much longer than the law dart, the machine gun and the supersized soda.
"Leave me alone" finds security in independence. "Let's fix it" finds security in dependency. Neither of them really speaks the same language. As kids, when something went wrong, "Let's Fix It" ran to find an adult to tattle to, and "Leave me alone" cleaned it up.
Time passed and the big adults are big government and tattling is patriotic. Now the tattlers, who are always expert at crying on cue and being professional victims, are descending on D.C., flapping their wings on the Capitol Dome and then flying off to whine across the land in nightly performances coming to a rigidly controlled town hall meeting near you.
"Leave me alone" works meanwhile, doing all the difficulty dirty work whose proceeds flow into the coffers of the "Let's fix it" crowd and hopes for nothing else than to be left alone.
Daniel Greenfield is a blogger, columnist and freelance photographer born in Israel, who maintains his own blog, Sultan Knish.