The Progressive War Against the Culture of Gun Owners
Permit me to begin with what might seem like a silly observation from the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis late last week: There were a lot of men with beards.
Yes, the crowd is more diverse than you might think, and plenty of women. But the meat-and-potatoes of the NRA Convention crowd is meat-and-potatoes men. Big guys. Tattoos. Guys who work with their hands. Guys who hunt. Farmers, truck drivers, engineers, construction workers, soldiers, retired veterans, law enforcement, firemen . . .
You could drop these guys back in time to 1950, or 1900, or 1850, or 1776 and most of these guys would be able to function pretty well. They can hunt. They can fix engines and build giant machines, put up houses, operate heavy machinery. Most of ‘em are strong. They’re all over the spectrum, but many of them have great skill (marksmanship and tracking, obviously) and keen minds (engineering, mechanics, material sciences). A lot of military experience. They know the world around them well beyond the most distant Starbucks. (They do have wine connoisseurs among them.)
(This is not exclusive to men, of course; Thursday night I met a woman who might as well be the incarnation of Artemis, as she explained how she killed an eight-point buck with a bow and arrow. In pigtails.)
Anyway, most of the NRA Convention crowd is the distilled essence of anti-metrosexualism. (I’m using the term “metrosexual,” but some argue that “hipster” has replaced it or Muppie (Millennial Yuppie) is a better descriptor.)
Updates from Yuppie Acres have probably revealed I’m, for better or worse, not really one of Those Guys. Ward Cleaver, not Willie Robertson. If you’re not one of Those Guys, you can have two reactions: appreciate them as they are . . . or conclude that because they’re different from you, there’s something wrong with them.
And that’s where the Progressives come in.
What’s wonderful about liberty is that if you don’t want to be one of Those Guys, you don’t have to be. We no longer live in a world where your ability to provide for your family depends upon your ability to hunt and kill an animal. If you can do something that gets other people to give you money, you can go to Safeway or Whole Foods and you trade it for food.
If the way Those Guys live their life isn’t your cup of tea, you can live a life in which you rarely if ever encounter them. There are swaths of the country full of Those Guys, and swaths where they’re pretty rare. (I’ll bet the only people who even remotely seem like Those Guys that Mike Bloomberg sees all day are on his security detail, and I doubt he has many conversations with them.)
But a lot of Progressives seem really, really bothered by Those Guys; I don’t know if Progressive women or men fume about them more.
Mocking NRA members has become pretty standard of the left; a year ago, on CNN’s website, a contributing editor at The American Prospect referred to “the annual festival of conspiracy theorizing, belligerent fist-shaking and anxious masculinity known as the National Rifle Association convention.” . . .
Some gun-control advocates are a bit more explicit about it than others. After beginning with the usual call for “common-sense safety laws,” Lucia McBath, national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, writes:
No one said this fight would be easy and I fully understand that changing the current gun culture across the nation will not take place overnight.
It will be a slow and sometimes emotionally taxing campaign, a crusade that our opponents will often deride and say can’t be won. But I also understand that it’s a fight on which we must not back down.
They want to change the culture of gun owners, not just the laws they must obey. I’m sure you can imagine other communities that would not react with warmth if you appeared one day and announced, “Hi, I’m here to change your culture!” I’m sure most of these progressive gun-control advocates think that one of history’s greatest crimes was the way that European colonists changed and in some cases eradicated the cultures of native peoples . . . but in the here and now, they see absolutely nothing wrong with going forth, encountering people who live differently from them, and declaring, “these savages have to be civilized!”
In short, these progressives are intolerant of diversity.
Sometimes it’s quite explicit, as in this Frenchman’s letter to the editor in the Hartford Courant:
A normal culture’s response to children being murdered at an elementary school like Sandy Hook would have been total revulsion and an immediate effort to remove the guns from the hands of all citizens except those that must have them for their work.
Got that? If you prefer anything different from what this guy wants — immediate, mandatory nationwide gun confiscation and an abolition of all private gun ownership — you are not merely mistaken or viewing the issue differently — you’re culturally abnormal!
Progressives and lefties scoff that the gun is much more than a tool to these people, and make references and/or crude jokes to Freudian psychology. But I suspect that many gun owners would agree that a gun is indeed a symbol. It’s a symbol of who they are, how they see themselves and what they stand for. They aren’t willing to rely solely on someone else for their own protection. They’re independent; they can pursue animals of the wild and return with food. Looking back in history, you see serfs, servants, and slaves are rarely armed because of the possibility of rebellion and uprising; owning a gun is a statement that “I will never be subjugated.” (You’ve heard the variations of the statement, “God made man and woman, but Sam Colt made them equal” or “Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”) Obviously, this doesn’t fit well in a progressive worldview that aims, whether they realize it or not, to restore an aristocracy.
And here we have another example confirming Jonah’s assertion that the Left is the aggressor in the culture war. “Those Guys” may laugh at Metrosexual America, but you rarely if ever see them argue that America must be purged of its metrosexuals. Nobody goes into New York City and Los Angeles and argues that the men there ought to change their ways and do more traditionally manly things. (“You there! Stop getting that manicure and worrying about your haircut! You and I are going to Sears and shopping for power tools!”)
But progressive America really, really wants to change “Those Guys.”