The unbearable lightness of Geraldo
In the wake of Uvalde, Geraldo Rivera advocates prohibiting the purchase of semi-automatic firearms by anyone under age 21. The proposal warrants skepticism. Given the defenselessness of the victims and the brutality of the killer, it is difficult to imagine any "reform" aimed at narrowing the killer's choice of means that could have stopped the infliction of grievous damage at Uvalde. Rivera's proposal is yet another simple-minded non-solution pushed as the only obvious and morally defensible policy choice, yet the proposal if enacted would not have saved a single life at Uvalde, which suggests that life-saving is not the point.
No violently mentally ill person should be able to obtain any kind of firearm. From what is publicly known, the Uvalde killer should have been identified as a dangerous mental case in adolescence and, as such, should have been prevented from purchasing a firearm as an adult. Such safeguards should be established, and schools should be hardened, with the Second Amendment upheld.
This nation was founded as a representative republic operating on the assumption that all adult citizens posses an equal right to participate in their own governance (with the lamentable exception of the then enslaved population). The nation displayed a standing respect for its citizenry and recognized rights to free speech and self-defense on the assumption that the average person can be trusted to live independently and function productively in a free society. Rivera's ban would contribute to shifting the nature of the United States from a representative republic to something more akin to a therapeutic dictatorship in which the state sees its subjects as mentally ill until they can either prove otherwise to its satisfaction or reach an age at which the state consents to allay its suspicion. This is to be rejected. Adults possess fundamental rights that should not be rescinded on the basis of groundless, indiscriminate suspicion.
Having observed Rivera's stage antics, we imagine that his most likely response would be to throw his arms into the air and exclaim in a tone at once pleading and accusatory: "Then we do nothing?!" To this, we say: the rejection of a lousy idea is not a refusal to consider and adopt better ones. Moreover, it seems fair to ask: has there ever been a high-profile murder in response to which Rivera effectively pleaded with the public to "do nothing" when perhaps he should not have?
In July of 2018, a young female University of Iowa student disappeared. Her disappearance made the national news. She was later found to have been murdered by an illegal alien named Cristhian Bahena Rivera (no relation to Geraldo, of course). Now, you may be wondering: what did Rivera (the media personality, not the illegal alien) do? Denounce the disgraceful ease with which criminal illegal aliens may enter our country? Call for criminal background checks on those who are here so as to deport the dangerous ones? Urge us to take actions to better protect ourselves from criminals who should not be here in the first place?
Let the reader brace for disappointment: Rivera moved as fast as he could — not to prevent the next murder, but to defend the illegal alien community. He solemnly urged restraint and sought to head off any measures that might make life in the least bit less comfortable for those living (and occasionally killing) "in the shadows." The murder victim was effectively shrugged off. Rivera could not bring himself to fathom any policy implications whatsoever from the incident, and he pleaded with the nation to do nothing.
Now, what is to be made of this? To our eyes, it would be a mistake to see this as mere hypocrisy. Rivera's attitude has a consistent theme: he felt compelled to protect illegal aliens. From whom? From everyone else. Rivera heroically interposed himself between the inveterate racists he evidently believes make up most of the American population and those unfortunately positioned domestic servants who, it would seem, are simply indispensable to running the Rivera household. Rivera just can't bear the thought of losing his gardener — but a nativist rabble is not to be trusted and deserves to be disarmed. And so here lies the deeper principle at work in the conscience of a progressive: contempt for the American people.
It brings us no joy to offer up so searing a critique of a fairly amiable media personality. Rivera deserves credit for offering a concrete proposal, but his unbearable moral posturing deserves a response. No one is morally obligated to kneel before anyone else's ill conceived, short-sighted, ineffectual policy demands, especially when made by a pampered, over-privileged ignoramus and insultingly couched as incontestable moral imperatives to which no sound objection may be imagined. Political debates should be civil and serious, not mere occasions for vacuous grandstanding and cheap moral bullying.
Image: Mark Taylor.