Propriety for Thee, but Not for Me?

by Jonah Goldberg

After the Las Vegas shooting, less than a month ago, I began a post thus:

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve written columns, blog posts, or G-Files lamenting the instantaneous politicization of mass murder.

My target at the time (and in countless previous posts in similar circumstances) were all the people desperate to use the fear, anger, and anxiety of the moment to rush through policies they want, namely various gun-control measures.

If a single conservative disagreed with me at the time, I didn’t hear from them.

Well, last night, Donald Trump, not to mention many of my colleagues at Fox and elsewhere, went straight to the issue of the killer’s immigration status. This morning President Trump tweeted, among other things:

Chuck Schumer responded:

President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.

Representative Adam Schiff joined the fray as well:

I think it’s kind of absurd in the hours after this terrible attack to be using it as a fulcrum for a debate that’s been going on in Congress for completely different reasons,” Representative Adam Schiff of California said on MSNBC on Wednesday. “I’ve never really heard this made as a security argument, and I think to use this tragedy in that way to push a different agenda is not what the president ought to be doing right now.

As did New York governor Andrew Cuomo:

I don’t think this is the time to get political,” he told MSNBC. “We had a policy, an immigration policy in place in the ’90s. It was a bipartisan policy. It was signed by a Republican president. There’s no doubt that we have to be smarter and have more intelligent but there’s also no doubt that this is not the time to play politics. This is not the time to foment hate. This is not the time to divide, because they all exacerbate the situation, right? This is the time to forge alliances with our allies.

Right now, Twitter is full of conservatives rightly mocking Schumer and other Democrats for their hypocrisy. Schumer & Co. had no problem with instantaneous demagoguery on guns and the need for gun control after the Las Vegas shooting (or countless other mass murders before that). But now that the issue is immigration, they are aghast that anyone would use a tragedy to push a policy agenda or score political points.

But what about conservatives doing exactly what we decry as well? When it’s gun control, we’re all like, “How dare you politicize a tragedy?” This was the White House’s official position in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting. “Now is not the time” etc.

Are we to think that when the blood in the street bolsters the case for even more Extreme Vetting, it’s just fine?

This is an honest question: Is there a meaningful distinction between the two scenarios? Are there some policy questions that are fair in the wake of a terror attack or mass shooting and others that must be held in check pending a respectful mourning period? Or is “propriety for thee, but not for me” the rule now?

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