I get the feeling that this fight is about to get really ugly: the latest in the battle that is ongoing over gun control involves the mean, personal attack the NRA is running that charges the president with “hypocrisy.” Consider the following lead paragraph:
In a sign of how brutal, emotional and deeply personal the coming battle over gun violence is likely to be, the National Rifle Association on Tuesday accused President Barack Obama of hypocrisy for having the Secret Service protect his daughters even as he opposes the NRA’s call for armed guards in schools.
The vitriolic ad also calls Obama “elitist.” This word, of course, is aimed at the blue-collar rifle owners the NRA is keen to convince Obama wants to disarm. It’s a sure-fire “scare” term that is guaranteed to piss someone off. I have even seen it used against the liberal arts, if you can imagine, in an effort to cast aspersions on studies directed at improving the mind but not preparing students for work. It does seem to be effective in that it persuades people — and that’s the object. It appeals to the emotions, not the brain. And the charge that Obama is a hypocrite is also designed to get the knees jerking among the intellectually challenged.
The fact of the matter is that Presidents have always required protection — as do their families — because there are folks out there carrying guns (as permitted) who would just as soon kill them all. And kidnapping members of the President’s family is always a very real possibility. He is in a special, very public, position and it is not hypocritical on the President’s part to want the children of less public folks to be protected against nut-cases who carry assault weapons into schools. And Columbine has shown that having armed guards at the schools is not the answer: it just sells more guns. Obama’s concern is born of what appears to be genuine empathy for the parents of those whose children were massacred in Connecticut.
And, speaking of hypocrisy, those who live in glass houses should be careful about the stones they throw. Congress is opposed to gun control, for the most part, yet they have metal detectors at every entrance to their hallowed halls to make sure a madman doesn’t wander in and start shooting. So if the NRA wants to target hypocrisy (sorry!) they had best start with the folks they sponsor and help get elected to public office — those who toe the mark and do as they are told and who will therefore be able to count on reelection the next time around. And speaking of hypocrisy, it seems just a bit hypocritical for the gun manufacturers who fund the NRA and clearly have the most at stake in this gun control game to pretend they give a tinker’s dam about the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
But I think the most disturbing thing about this fight over gun control is the fear and hatred that are being stirred up by those who have decided to take the gloves off and fight bare knuckles. The level of discourse keeps getting lower and lower. But we now live in an era of fear and suspicion — and personal attacks funded by corporations whose only concern is with profits — where the emotions are carefully played like a fine instrument by people skilled at producing the melodies they want to hear. I think I can hear the orchestra tuning up in the background. Brace yourself!