One of the things that has made America a beacon to the rest of the world is that at times of immense tragedy, its people pull together.
That is, fortunately, still partially true — among most average Americans. During and after the mass murder in Las Vegas Sunday night, there were demonstrations of selfless heroism — people putting their own bodies at lethal risk to cover others; hundreds who stood in line for hours the next day to donate blood for the victims. Flags all over the nation were lowered to half-staff in mourning.
But when it comes to the political class and self-appointed social media elites, not so much. It is not a time to come together. It is a time to divide, to accuse, to attack. It is a time for naked ambition.
How else to explain the massive number of tweets or posts declaring that no Republicans, or any opponents of more restrictive gun control, should be allowed to express any sympathy for the victims because they had “voted to let mentally ill people have guns?”
Former CBS lawyer Hayley Geftman-Gold went even further, tweeting that she had no sympathy for the victims themselves “(because) country music fans often are Republican gun toters.” Appropriately, CBS fired her.
But by that standard, nobody who opposes the enforcement of immigration laws should be allowed to express any sympathy toward a victim harmed by an illegal alien.
Perhaps you recall (it was not widely reported) the name Kate Steinle, a young woman murdered in 2015 by an illegal alien who had already been deported several times but was back again, living in San Francisco, a “sanctuary city” where local law enforcement refuses to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
By the logic being applied to the killings in Las Vegas, all the millions of supporters of sanctuary cities “wanted” Kate Steinle to be killed. They are complicit in her murder. They have blood on their hands.
Which is absurd, of course, but it’s no more absurd than accusing Second Amendment defenders of the same thing every time there is a mass shooting.
A similar kind of logic was in play several months ago when a left-wing supporter of “democratic socialist” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., shot Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and several others at a baseball practice — and tried to shoot more.
The comments following that reached the point that we used to think would be parody — something for the satirical website The Onion. Hundreds of social media posts declared that the victims had brought it on themselves.
Many described the victims as “the real terrorists” because some of them had voted to repeal Obamacare. That made them bent on the mass murder of millions. They deserved to be shot to death.
How else to explain the embarrassing display of political ambition by Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., who is well on his way to taking up the mantle from former senator and Secretary of State John Kerry as the state’s top media whore.
Moulton, fresh from a trip to Iowa in furtherance of his presidential hopes, made sure all his Twitter followers and the media knew that he would not be participating with other members of Congress in a moment of silence for the victims in Las Vegas because, until his views on gun control prevail, it is not a time for silence, it is a time for action.
Got that? Not even a moment of silence when he has the rest of the day, and every day, to spend in endless self-promotion. Did you know that Moulton is an Iraq War veteran? If not, just wait a couple of minutes, he’ll tell you again.
How else to explain the venom against those who are wary of encroachments on Second Amendment rights from those who insist that if tighter gun control (they, of course, always say “common sense gun laws”) had been adopted, this latest attack wouldn’t have happened.
There are all kinds of logical problems with that argument. A background check wouldn’t have stopped it. A ban on “automatic weapons” wouldn’t have stopped it — they’re already banned.
California’s gun control laws have been ranked the strictest in the nation yet three of its cities — San Bernardino, Oakland and Salinas — are in the top 20 for gun violence. Same with Maryland, which has among the strictest gun laws in the country while Baltimore’s murder rate ranks second in the nation.
We already have laws that say murder, by any means, is illegal. Do people seriously think that if we just outlaw guns, or certain kinds of guns, this will eliminate obscenities like the Las Vegas attack?
How else to explain that it was not nearly enough for President Trump to call the shooting “pure evil?” There were immediate, constant demands that he call it terrorism, even though federal law describes a terrorist act as one committed to advance a political or religious agenda.
No matter. Since the shooter was a white male, if you don’t call it a terrorist act that automatically makes you a white supremacist.
Apparently the only thing that would satisfy this cohort would be a law that says something is a terrorist act only if it is committed by a white male. If it is committed by an Islamist extremist or other political/religious radical (who is also a minority), it is to be called “workplace violence” or a “man-caused disaster,” as we were instructed during the Obama administration.
A real conversation about gun control is always appropriate — especially appropriate at a time like this. But far too often, the only kind of “conversation” gun control advocates want amounts to “Shut up and do as I say.”
This past week offers abundant evidence of that.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.