Hiding behind Grieving Mothers
In any normal situation, the President's decision to push Francine Wheeler -- a sobbing, grieving mother of a six-year-old boy killed at Sandy Hook -- in front of the cameras to argue for the latest Senate gun control bill would be breathtaking for its exploitation and its cynicism. Yet now it is a regular part and parcel of a typical left-wing tactic -- to suppress rational discussion with a tidal wave of emotion.
It is important to clarify that it is not necessary for rational debate to be separated from emotion, and that emotion is anything but a useless characteristic of the human condition. As rational beings, emotion guides and informs our rationality, so that our understanding of a crime can be shaped by the pain and horror seen in its wake.
So, in looking at how to respond to 9/11, the pain and tragedy of that day could not be discounted. Yet it was right that the raw emotionalism shown in those first few days could not be the sole guiding principle in determining foreign policy. Perspective had to be gained, consequences had to be predicted, and reasonable action needed to be taken. America could not merely lash out and act irrationally.
Emotion helped shape the Bush administration's foreign policy, yet it was not made superior to reason and to logical argument. The emotions of sadness, fear, and anger all motivated America to act, but were then pushed to the back as the correct way to act was chosen carefully. Neither were families of the victims of 9/11 allowed to dictate foreign policy and overshadow that debate. If that were so, we could have easily ended up nuking a large amount of the Middle East.
This applies in other forums too. Just as we did not allow families of 9/11 victims to dictate foreign policy, we do not allow burglary victims to dictate prison terms, we don't allow those hurt in the financial crisis to dictate banking reform and we don't allow assault victims to dictate police guidelines.
Emotion provides the impetus to act in the first place, but then steps back as it is replaced by careful, reasoned debate on how to act.
However, for Sandy Hook and gun control, this is not happening.
The emotional impetus was certainly there in the days following the shooting. Conservatives and liberals agreed, as they do after every tragedy of this nature, that if there was a way to prevent massacres of children from happening again, it should be considered. It is so obvious it should not need saying -- no-one wants innocent children to get shot.
Soon, after the emotions settled, the rational debate began, and the left lost... badly.
The leap for Feinstein's assault weapons ban stumbled and collapsed in a heap very quickly and gun-control advocates like Piers Morgan were torn to pieces in their own studios. Additionally, advocates claiming that gun-control would help could only put forward a convincing argument if they ignored a hoard of other inconvenient truths, such as assault rates, burglary rates, and rape rates, and that most major massacres occur in gun-free zones.
Consequently, support for the ban dissipated very quickly. The left have fallen back, now trying to package as many "small, common-sense" measures as they can into one tangled web of a bill designed to trip up gun-owners. But now Second Amendment supporters are on the attack, and are asking the question, "Which one of these measures would have prevented Sandy Hook?"
As Sandy Hook is the current crest on the gun-control flag, this question is devastating. It threatens to ruin the left's anti-gun arguments, and expose them as cynical politicians exploiting a tragedy for their own political cause.
Saturday's radio address shows the left scrambling to win at all costs -- they have had any rational basis for their arguments obliterated, and have nothing left. They are therefore going to crowd out the rational argument with pure emotion and grief. And it might work.
For it is very difficult politically to disagree with a grieving mother. One will find no argument in Mrs. Wheeler's address. If there is one, it is extremely weak. In fact, most of the video barely touches on guns until right near the end when the political spin kicks in and out of nowhere Mrs. Wheeler starts talking about "common-sense gun responsibility reforms." Does anyone believe these words are anything but political buzzwords placed into her mouth by Obama handlers?
Mrs. Wheeler spends the majority of the video talking about her son, before immediately arguing that we should pass the Senate bill -- a bill that would not have prevented the shooting. What she implies (that this bill would have saved her son's life) is false, and if she was to explicitly say what she implies, she would be lying. Yet who wants to be the one to call a grieving mother out on that?
This is Obama's tactic -- he knows that Republicans do not want to be seen as uncaring, or as attacking a weeping mother. The Democrats are using the families of those killed as riot shields with which to back Republicans into a corner, instead of having the guts to stand up and argue rationally for what they believe in.
Banning guns reduces crime? Prove it. Background checks make kids in schools safer? Prove it. Limiting magazine capacities stops serial killers? Prove it. Chicago is safer than Dallas? Prove it, prove it, prove it.
Yet they can't, and they won't. Therefore, in order to advance their political agenda, the left are prepared to drown out logical and reasoned debate with the cries of grieving mothers, and cover up the pages of evidence against them with pictures of dead children.
It is a sick yet formidable tactic. Republicans need to expose it for what it is, and refuse to play the exploitative games that have become an everyday tactic for the morally deficient Obama administration.
Adam Shaw is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter: @ACShaw