The New York Times published an article by David Brooks that wasn’t terrible. That is the best praise I can give it.
This has been an emotional week. We greet tragedies like the school shooting in Florida with shock, sadness, mourning and grief that turns into indignation and rage. The anger inevitably gets directed at the N.R.A., those who support gun rights, and the politicians who refuse to do anything while children die.
That last sentence went off the rails in a hurry.
Many of us walked this emotional path. But we may end up doing more harm than good. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it is that guns have become a cultural flash point in a nation that is unequal and divided. The people who defend gun rights believe that snobbish elites look down on their morals and want to destroy their culture. If we end up telling such people that they and their guns are despicable, they will just despise us back and dig in their heels.
Believe me, I’ve been hearing it all week how “the NRA is a terrorist organization,” we have “blood on our hands,” and we are part of a child killing “culture of death.” Oh yeah, and you want to kill us.
You hate us, we know it.
So if you want to stop school shootings it’s not enough just to vent and march. It’s necessary to let people from Red America lead the way, and to show respect to gun owners at all points. There has to be trust and respect first. Then we can strike a compromise on guns as guns, and not some sacred cross in the culture war.
That’s a nice sentiment. Most of us are still not going to give into the gun control ideas you are pushing, but not treating legal gun owners like we were the ones pulling the trigger in Parkland is a start.
The article goes on the discuss a program called Better Angels which is a bipartisan group that tries to get more open debates between the Left and Right by moderating the name calling and extreme rhetoric.
The article ends with this.
We don’t really have policy debates anymore. We have one big tribal conflict, and policy fights are just proxy battles as each side tries to establish moral superiority. But just as the tribal mentality has been turned on, it can be turned off. Then and only then can we go back to normal politics and take reasonable measures to keep our children safe.
So the in-a-nut-shell summary of this was “lets stop calling gun owners baby killers and try to work with them a little bit.”
How did the intelligent and socially conscience readers of the New York Times take it?
Poorly. Each of these comments was from the New York Times editor top picks.
Many gun owners support the kinds of controls that are advocated to reduce gun violence and death. The NRA doesn’t because they believe it will limit the sales of the gun manufacturers that keep the NRA in business. This isn’t tribal. It’s citizens who support safe and responsible gun ownership against an organization that thinks their clients profits are more important than the bullets fired into someone’s child or parent. Maybe, first, people like Brooks should stop making this a conservative vs liberal thing and acknowledge it’s a public safety thing.
Ah yes, the “the NRA doesn’t represent most gun owners” appeal to popularity argument. To be honest, I don’t care about Fudds. They are a hair above Quislings. “Don’t take my O/U skeet gun but take his AR” is bullshit. That is the equivalent of agreeing with speech codes because you have nothing controversial to say. The Second Amendment protects military style arms for the same reason the First Amendment protects unpopular speech.
Also, the NRA isn’t in the business of selling guns. It is member supported. This idea that the NRA needs gun manufactures to sell to stay “in business” borders on conspiracy theory status about “the gun lobby.”
Lastly, this guy learned nothing. “It’s citizens who support safe and responsible gun ownership against an organization that thinks their clients profits are more important than the bullets fired into someone’s child or parent” is exactly the type of sentiment Brooks warned against. NRA members support the NRA for fighting against gun restrictions, not the NRA leading its members around by the nose.
As a young man, I hunted with my father. I took an NRA hunter safety course in the 1960’s and still own an old rifle. But I left the NRA a long time ago.
Mr. Brooks is very thoughtful and I respect his opinions. But it’s the radical right that promoted the politics of personal destruction. Surveys have proven that Trump supporters tend toward racist views. The Republican Party has cultivated racial hostilities among working class whites for years. Remember Reagan’s state’s rights speech in Philadelphia Mississippi? The politics of division did not begin on the left.
I live in gun country and have many conservative friends. We don’t talk politics much. But when we do, I discover that their news sources give them a different set of facts than I obtain from the New York Times. That makes any discussion and agreement difficult. It’s very hard to agree ( or respect) with a birther.
But Mr. Brooks has some excellent points. America will never heal until BOTH sides of the divide begin to listen with respect to the other side. However, don’t expect the NRA to participate or change their positions.
A Fudd that hates Trump, thinks Trump supporters are racist, the Right is to blame for all the problems, and the NRA is intractable, which is bad.
It all boils down to respect. No one will listen to you if you don’t show respect. I have the good fortune to live in a largely but not exclusively blue world and work in a largely but not exclusively red one. My good friends, both red and blue, share values about most things, including abortion, guns, health care and environment. My red friends and I know how each feels about Donald Trump. We discussed him during the election. But not now. They still like him and my feelings are well summarized by Charles Blow. There’s really no point in having a discussion about the man named Donald Trump. Take his name away and we do just fine. To his supporters Trump is not an embodiment of political philosophies and actions, he is an avatar of pent up rage rising from fly-over disrespect. Respect can weaken the avatar enough that he and his kind will lose not just the next election, but the next generation of elections. Democrats take note.
Finally, I have to say I’ve been deeply annoyed that “Don’t Tread on Me” was taken by the Reds. Since that icon was absconded by the right I chose to plant the Liberty Tree as my icon of fealty to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But the last year has brought a more potent symbol to the fore and I may soon switch to the Stature of Liberty.
“I don’t have to show the Right respect because TRUMP!!!” Also, “I don’t understand what DTOM means.”
‘It’s necessary to let people from Red America lead the way, and to show respect to gun owners at all points. There has to be trust and respect first.’
Respect, Mr Brooks? With all due respect, respect is not a right. Respect has to be earned. Respect has to be won.
Respect is not the same as courtesy. We can be courteous to someone we despise.
Nor is respect the same as toleration, compromise, give and take, or understanding. To reduce gun deaths, we will have to tolerate much that is intolerable, compromise much of what we hold dear, concede much high ground to our adversaries, and understand our enemies.
But we do not have to respect them.
“I read your article but I hate the Right/Red States/GOP/Trump so much I’m not going to let it shift me from my hatred and I’m going to blame them for it.” That and unearned moral superiority.
A difficulty in this discussion is conflating talking about “guns” with serious proposals to “ban AR-15s.” The gun lobby and people who vote the NRA agenda are effective in keeping the conversation muddied so that conversations about background checks or banning semi-automatic weapons become shrill claims that “they” are coming to take away people’s guns. It’s a purposeful distortion of the policy discussion. The people in the “red” tribe may be decent law abiding nice people. But they have a cognitive dissonance problem in that they continue to vote for representatives who are not nice people and who care little about doing anything for their or their children’s safety. I have no sympathy for the red tribe’s hurt feelings when their fanaticism about guns is highlighted. Their hurt feelings pale in light of the lifelong pain that is felt by survivors and loved ones of people killed by AR-15s, the weapon of choice of terrorists and troubled people who shoot up schools, concerts, churches, and movie theaters. Yes, we should all be a lot kinder to each other, and that loving kindness should extend to voting for officials who will champion reduction of weapons used in mass shootings. Maybe the red tribe feelings should include acting on empathy for the devastating, life-long pain of the shooting victims’ families by banning the weapon used over and over again in these mass shooting events.
“We’re not going to ‘take’ your guns (except we want to ban them and have a mandatory buy back). All the problems with the gun debate are with the Red side because a person can’t support owning an AR and kids at the same time. They must not have any ethics. Good people should vote for Blue candidates only because voting for Red people makes you unkind.”
David. There is no respect possible for the private ownership of military weapons. We must ban semi-automatic weapons.
Really it’s quite that simple.
What did I just say about not wanting to take people’s guns?
There is a wonderful solution for all those ‘Patriots’ who insist on fulfilling their need to use machine guns built for mass murder: join the military. Yes, that is what the Second Amendment actually addresses: “a well regulated militia”.
And then, ‘Patriot’, once you are out of the military you must leave the machine guns with the military where they belong. Also, you will no longer be piloting nuclear armed bombers. Those, too, must stay with the military – sorry!
But the good news is that there are military recruiting stations in every county, and joining the military can be a lifetime career, so, Patriot, go for it!
“If you want guns, join the military.” First of all, many gun owners did. Second, don’t question our patriotism. Implying that people want to join the military or own guns because they want to murder others is just horribly offensive to our troops. Lastly, the part about the militia being only the formal standing army is historically inaccurate to the point were even SCOTUS disagreed.
This is also ableist. I guess if someone who isn’t physically capable of military service can’t have their Second Amendment rights?
This comment is just a hot mess of every anti-gun, anti-military Leftist ideology.
What absolute tripe. My respect for Brooks has gone down the tubes. The Gun Lobby is out of control and has the majority of the GOP in their pockets. “Respect” for gun owners rights is a false issue, this is about reigning in one of the most destructive forces in our society. Assault weapons cross the line from average gun ownership and should be banned altogether. I’ll take anger and insistence that this madness be stopped over the unnecessary loss of life in our schools and in our society in general (think Las Vegas and Pulse for example) anytime.
“I’m so biased and tribalist that I now hate a person I once liked for saying that we shouldn’t demonize the people I hate.”
The lives of American children are a bipartisan issue.
Guns kill. Take the guns away, and then we can all talk about getting along.
The NRA has become a terrorist organization: my definition of terror is that children–mine and yours–are terrified of going to school. This does not occur in countries that have sane gun control laws. Who have we become?
“Our side is for the children, the other side is terrorists.”
These are actual replies from New York Times readers. These are supposed to be the news reading elite. They were not going to be moved from their entrenched bias and hatred. They were going to keep on going on with all the same anti-gun, anti-GOP, anti-Trump that they did before.
They learned nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing.
How can they even begin to have a conversation with someone on the other side if they can’t even listen to someone from their own side telling them how to start having a conversation with the other side?
I’ll be honest, this is where I start to think that a national “amicable divorce” is our future. We can be three nations, The North East Corridor, Middle America, and The Pacific Coast States.
I don’t want a civil war. That would be terrible. But if the people of New York and California can’t even stomach the idea of Red America being something other than baby killers and child murderers, than how do we move forward from this?