The Corner

A Clever, Infantile Campaign

Brendan O’Neill:

Obama’s anti-gun stunt was a see-through attempt to circumvent the democratic realm of grown-up debate and competing interests by laying down the trump card marked, “But what about the children?!”

…The use of children to front a potentially big overhaul of Americans’ constitutional rights is really about silencing dissent, exploiting the wide-eyed innocence of worried children to try to shame those adults who still dare to say: “But what about my constitutional rights?” Indeed, it is normally only the most censorious, authoritarian regimes or groups that use children to front or follow through political campaigns. Who can forget the Child Spies in George Orwell’s 1984, those “ungovernable little savages” whose simplistic moralism made them the perfect monitors of adult behaviour? Today, all sorts of fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-masses campaigns – from Green efforts to guilt-trip us over our carbon use to… demands to censor wicked art – exploit or evoke children to get their message across. And that message is: “It doesn’t matter what you adults believe or want or desire – the feelings of children are way more important.”

Children are perfect fodder for moralistic political campaigns because they are naturally and naively moralistic, seeing the world in brutally black-and-white terms. That the current campaign to overhaul the Second Amendment now uses children as some of its chief spokespeople is very revealing – it reveals just how cynical and unthinking this campaign is, and that it is driven more by childish fear and simplistic morality than by that old adult pursuit, politics.


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