A Teachable Moment for the Left

Posted: Jan 23, 2013 10:35 AM

Some of the discussion of Josh Marshall's overwrought anti-gun screed on TPM, "Speaking for My Tribe," focuses on its (intentional or inadvertent) use of the language of bigotry.

But a different part of the piece caught my eye, specifically:

But [correspondence from a dissenting reader] captured a mentality that does seem pervasive among many more determined gun rights advocates — basically that us non-gun people need to be held down as it were and made to learn that it’s okay being around people carrying loaded weapons.

Well, I don’t want to learn. That doesn’t work where I live — geographically or metaphorically.

Josh Marshall deserves kudos for how perfectly he expresses the discomfort that any normal person feels when his (or her) self-appointed superiors decide it's time to teach lessons about the right way to live.  What's unfortunate is that he doesn't seem to realize that his ideological compatriots do it far more than those with whom he disagrees.

Don't think affirmative action is the best way to realize a sincerely-held belief in racial equality? Not entirely sure abortion on demand is an unqualified good? Doubtful that gay marriage is a great idea? Opposed to the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero?  Not a fan of tax increases? Then you're a racist-sexist-homophobe-Islamophobe-greedy-one-percenter!!!

There is no similar catchy, disparaging term for those who, like Marshall, are uncomfortable with guns.  And that is just one more reminder that -- if, indeed, the pro-gun tribe is seeking to "hold down" other Americans to convince them of the error of their beknighted ways -- most of their company is on the left. 

Like Marshall, the people regularly caricatured as slack-jawed-knuckle-dragging-mouth-breathing bigots in flyover country are offended at the idea that they 'need to be held down as it were and made to learn" about morality on a host of other divisive social issues from self-appointed moral tutors.  That doesn't work where they "live -- geographically or metaphorically," either.

As a final thought, for the most part, pro-gun conservatives -- radically outnumbered in "gun free" zones like Chicago, Manhattan and Washington, D.C. -- simply leave the anti-gun "tribes" (in Mr. Marshall's formulation) alone, freeing them to enjoy the low crime and enhanced personal security that outlawing guns reliably brings.  In contrast, for example, liberals didn't let a federal partial birth abortion law stand unchallenged even for 48 hours, even in a conservative place ("geographically" and "metaphorically") like Nebraska.

So perhaps the pro-gun "tribe" has a little something to teach Mr. Marshall and his friends on the left, after all.  Wouldn't it be a constructive outcome if they absorbed a little something about the importance of "tolerance," "respect" and all the other virtues they so regularly extol?

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