Remember when the San Bernardino shooting was all about guns?
Two weeks ago, then-unknown assailants killed 14 people in a conference center in Southern California. Instead of waiting to find out who the attackers were or what they believed in, many on the left just swept up the attack into preconceived talking points.
"We must take action to stop gun violence now," Hillary Clinton tweeted. "It's time to stand up to the NRA," Martin O'Malley announced. At the same time, the tabloid New York Daily News was evidently deciding that its editorial stance was to blame white Christians for everything that's wrong with the world, starting with a cover shaming prayer, of all things.
Of course, we now know that the perpetrators were two Islamic terrorists, who had dabbled in extremist beliefs for years and might even have planned other attacks. But did that stop the left? Nope.
The tabloid next blithely called the head of the NRA a terrorist and published a bizarre op-ed blaming a victim of the San Bernardino shooting for his own murder, because, you see, he was a Christian conservative.
And, of course, there was the stunningly tone-deaf decision by The New York Times to run a gun control editorial on its front page — first time in eleventy thousand years! Need I point out that a few weeks ago terrorists in a country with gun control killed more than a hundred people? The clichéd (and, yes, tendentious) slogan "If you make guns illegal, only outlaws will have guns" has never sounded more salient.
It is, of course, important to acknowledge the sincerity of gun control advocates who believe their position would save countless lives. With that being said, if progressives want to implement laws, they are going about it in a strange, strange way.
Take the fact that both President Obama and Hillary Clinton praised Australia's mandatory gun buyback laws after the attack. That kind of policy has no hope of passing in the U.S. — but their comments did break one of the left's big taboos of gun control rhetoric (and confirmed one of the right's worst fears) by admitting that liberals don't just want restrictions on sale and use, but actually want to force people to hand over their guns.
Where did this newfound hubris on gun control come from? It can't be from progressives' success on the issue — they've made practically no legislative progress at all and public opinion is pretty much where it was a decade ago.
I think the best explanation is that the same-sex marriage movement has profoundly changed the progressive political movement. Here, after all, is a cause that everybody believed to be an absolute political non-starter just 20 years ago, but which triumphed through sheer force of argument and persuasion.
I think this experience, plus the meme (whether it is accurate or not) that demographics are inexorably creating a "Rainbow Coalition" progressive majority, is making liberals believe they can accomplish any political goal they set their mind to — as long as they shout loudly enough.
Now, the dark version of the argument goes, now we have the power to really crush conservatives.
Look, the right is not prone to its own problems. Many in the conservative movement feel, rightly or wrongly, aggrieved; they feel like the country's elites disdain them and want to use the levers of government to make them conform to their view of the world (while raiding their wallets). They believe gun control advocates think that people who like their guns, to coin a phrase, cling bitterly to them (and their religion) for irrational reasons. And so they refuse to budge one iota.
Identity is a powerful thing. Kick it out the door and it climbs back through the window. And identity politics turns important issues into excuses for beating down people who aren't like you because they scare you. All I can say is: Please cut it out, take a deep breath, and grow up.