The Left Will Not Achieve Gun Reform By Using Divisive Culture War Tactics

Gun violence protests - NRA blood on your hands

Going on a moralistic crusade against the NRA and gun rights supporters may be cathartic for the Left, but folding the gun control debate into the ongoing toxic culture war only guarantees bitter polarisation and more deadly inaction

A worrying (but perhaps predictable) new development following the horrific Parkland school shooting has been a concerted effort by many on the anti-gun Left to fold the issue of gun rights and restrictions into the broader, toxic ongoing culture war, in which Americans hunker down within their respective ideological bunkers and instinctively assume the worst of those who disagree.

This trend reached depressing new heights last night during CNN’s town hall on gun control, held in Broward County, Florida, where the shooting took place. This was less a serious debate conducted in the spirit of seeking compromise than it was an inquisition, designed not to foster understanding or brainstorm solutions but rather to provide a cathartic opportunity for gun-control advocates to scream at gun rights supporters and accuse them of complicity in the mass murder of innocent schoolchildren.

Even if there were a shred of truth in these monstrous accusations – and there isn’t – it would remain absolutely terrible politics. Constantly fuming that the other side is selfish and evil only encourages alienation and division, a fact which was true when some Republicans implied that President Obama didn’t “love America” and which applies equally now when some Democrats imply that conservatives don’t care about murdered kids. And it really should be a cause of deep shame for CNN that President Trump of all people was able to moderate a calmer, more respectful and productive listening session on gun control at the White House than Jake Tapper, with all his experience, managed on live television.

(Of course, the US media being the uncritically self-regarding entity that it is, Tapper is receiving praise from all corners for permitting what was effectively open season on Republican senator Marco Rubio and NRA representative Dana Loesch while letting the political activist local sheriff whose department failed to take action against the killer before he struck completely off the hook).

The irony to all of this is that there have actually been some genuinely hopeful signs of movement from gun rights proponents after this latest shooting. Whether it is increased fatigue from even hardened gun-rights activists at witnessing the funerals of more young children or (perhaps more likely) the loud and insistent activism of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students themselves, concessions are now being mooted and offered on areas from bump stocks (though no such device was used in this particular shooting) to increased criminal background and mental health checks.

This much, however, was foreseeable. What seems to be new this time is that efforts are now underway to make gun rights supporters pariahs in the wider American culture and society. We see this most notably with swarms of activists on social media browbeating corporations into disassociating themselves with the National Rifle Association – and gunowners in general, by extension:

 

This, of course, is precisely the same tactic used by the illiberal leftist British organisation Stop Funding Hate, which channels the efforts of a few thousand shrill voices on Twitter to intimidate companies into pulling their advertisements from certain publications or certain publications from their places of business.

Stop Funding Hate has had great success in surgically removing the spines of various corporations in Britain and then bending them to conform to whatever happens to be their moral outrage of the week, nearly always involving the Daily Mail. One does not have to approve of the Daily Mail’s editorial positions or reporting standards to be concerned that leftist efforts to make the personal political are creating dozens of new wedge issues to divide British people from one another rather than uniting us around common values, and co-opting big business in their efforts to do so.

In America, it seems to corporate capitulations are going to be every bit as swift as they have been here in the United Kingdom, with car hire giant Enterprise Rent-A-Car swiftly terminating a deal with the NRA in which offered rental discounts to their members:

 

Note the specific language used here, too. The business relationship was between Enterprise and the NRA, so the spineless amoebas who run the company’s social media accounts could simply have said that they terminated their relationship with the NRA. But they went one step further and specifically pointed out that they were withdrawing their discount for “NRA members”, as though innocent NRA members (none of whom have ever committed one of these mass shootings) are themselves deserving of opprobrium and social sanction.

An intersectional social justice warrior might say that this has the effect of “othering” the large minority of Americans who own guns, but of course such terms are only conferred on designated victim groups, a label which conservative gun-owners will never attract. Those of us who do not wallow 24/7 in victimhood culture might simply point out that appearing to repudiate law-abiding NRA members

Are firms like Enterprise free to advertise or offer affinity partnerships with whatever organisations they please? Of course. Is it necessarily good business to allow a handful of Twitter activists to effectively dictate corporate strategy? It’s arguable, but I have very strong doubts. But is it good for the country for corporations to so clearly take sides on divisive social issues, coming perilously close to suggesting that those who hold more conservative views are effectively personae non gratae? I think it is unambiguously bad and counterproductive to do so.

We have already been through this dismal dance with the media. The mainstream, prestige media’s often soft but near-universal leftward bias on all issues did not have the desired effect of “reprogramming” conservatives into adopting progressive positions; rather, it simply forced conservative news consumers into the arms of right wing talk radio, Fox News and a slew of independent right-wing websites whose journalistic standards and commitment to objectivity are often questionable at best. And freed from the need to cater to that side of the market, the remaining prestige media has had every social and commercial incentive to pander to progressive dogma and groupthink to the extent that many journalists genuinely believe themselves to be objective while displaying degrees of selection bias and epistemic closure which beggar belief.

Has this division been good for American society? Who can argue that it has been anything other than a monumental failure? More than anything, this is what gave the country President Trump. When the legacy news outlets which generally still come closest to reporting objective truth make it plainly clearly that conservative ideas are unwelcome and will be treated with more scepticism than progressive ideas, the very idea of objectivity is poisoned.

Do we really want to replicate this polarisation across all aspects of American life? Do we want to live in a society where the car rental company you use, the airline you fly, the grocery store you shop at or the high-tech goods you buy become an expression of your stance on every hot-button social issue, a flag planted to declare your allegiance in the culture wars?

Nothing good can come of this. Nothing. Have conservatives historically shown far too little sense of urgency in proposing and implementing policy changes in an attempt to reduce the frequency and deadliness of mass shootings, or at least been content to see efforts stall so long as their rights were not threatened? Absolutely. But now they are actually coming to the table, the Left’s response cannot be to paint every gun-owning American as a pariah and refuse to frequent the same places of business.

The Left have a history of achieving social changes – often welcome, sometimes less so – and responding to these victories not with magnanimity toward the conservatives they routed but rather with an unbecoming, snarling vengefulness. It would be a real catastrophe if they now repeat this destructive behaviour as they fight for greater gun control.

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An Anti-Trump Protest In Portland, An Unbridgeable Divide On Immigration

Congratulations, American leftists. By deliberately and persistently conflating legal and illegal immigration in the public discourse, it is no longer possible to have any kind of rational dialogue on the subject

I’m not normally in the habit of sharing Infowars videos other than the few occasions when I have had a chuckle at Alex Jones, but I encourage you to watch this video.

This is footage of a calm and eminently reasonable man debating with two left-wing women on the subject of immigration at an anti-Donald Trump protest in Portland, Oregon.

Background: The man’s own parents were legal immigrants, and he is attempting to get the two protesters to acknowledge that there is a difference between legal and illegal immigration, and that the former should be welcomed but the latter not tolerated.

They totally refuse to give any ground, refusing to acknowledge any difference between legal and illegal immigration and becoming ever more nonsensical as the video progresses. It’s not so much that they are deliberately conflating the two types of immigration in the way that so many cynical politicians have done. In the case of these protesters – having no doubt percolated in an ideological echo chamber where everyone thinks and says the same liberal thoughts – they are genuinely unable to discern the difference.

Key moment in the dialogue:

Man: My parents came here from Cuba, they came through Ellis Island through the proper channels and they became citizens.

Woman: Sir, it’s not about it being legal, it’s about that America — is open to help people. You’re just being closed minded.

Man: I’m not against immigration or immigrants, never was. My parents were immigrants.

Woman: But saying you’re against illegal immigrants is the same thing.

Man: It is not! Legal and illegal immigration is not the same thing.

Woman: Why does it matter if someone’s not “legally”…

Man: Of course it matters.

Woman: Why?

The two women in this film genuinely cannot see why joining the queue, waiting, paying money and taking a citizenship test is more virtuous and honourable than sneaking across the border or overstaying a visa, and they become increasingly agitated the more the man persists in trying to explain the difference. While the man is able to debate and discuss, all that the protesters can do is shout accusations and repeat talking points, so when he quickly discredits their stock responses (illegal immigration is great, just like rainbows and puppies) they have no intellectual fallback position. This is why they become so evidently distressed a few minutes into the video.

It’s worth watching this to remind ourselves of what the Left has been trying to accomplish in the immigration debate. Conflating legal and illegal immigration has long been a core goal, because not only does it then become much easier to tar opponents of the latter with the stain of racism, it also produces brainwashed young activists and voters who mindlessly parrot the phrases they are given and accept these positions without question.

And when anything – like, say, a Donald Trump Rally – penetrates their hermetically sealed ideological echo chamber? Since they cannot debate, they have only one response:

Shut it down! Shut it down! Shut it down!

And since even taking a moderate position on illegal immigration (such as granting permanent residence but not citizenship to those who have already come) prompts exactly the same vicious reaction, is it any wonder that many American conservatives are now spurning compromise themselves and gravitating toward the presidential candidate who says “screw it, just build the wall”?

Congratulations, American liberals. This is what you have wrought on the American political discourse, all in the name of tolerance.

 

Donald Trump protest

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Bottom Image: Press Herald

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