Fellow Patriot: The voluntary financial generosity of supporters like you keeps our hard-hitting analysis coming. Please support the 2021 Year-End Campaign today. Thank you for your support! —Nate Jackson, Managing Editor

Jonah Goldberg / February 23, 2018

The Child Soldiers of the Gun-Control War

In the wake of the horrific slaughter in Parkland, Florida, a cadre of energized and understandably traumatized teenagers has flooded Washington and the airwaves to say remarkably passionate, occasionally extreme things about guns and the need for gun control.

In the wake of the horrific slaughter in Parkland, Florida, a cadre of energized and understandably traumatized teenagers has flooded Washington and the airwaves to say remarkably passionate, occasionally extreme things about guns and the need for gun control.

Because these teens are politically effective, a bunch of goons, buffoons and trolls have floated conspiracy theories aimed at discrediting them. I won’t be more specific than that because it’s all reprehensible bilge.

At the same time, quite a few advocates of gun control, including many who claim the mantle of “objective” journalism, have taken the view that these kids cannot be criticized or gainsaid in any way. Apparently, it’s fine to push kids suffering from post-traumatic stress — or the still-grieving parents of murdered children — in front of cameras in order to drive public policy, but it’s an affront to decency to disagree with what they say or question the practice of using victims this way. (No, it’s not morally equivalent to some of the horrendous things the swamp-dwellers have said about these kids, but that is a low bar.)

Of course, the parents and the surviving kids aren’t being forced to do anything. They clearly want to be heard, and they have every right to do what they’re doing. Indeed, they’re entitled to their rage and grief. They are right to be furious.

But fury, in and of itself, is the enemy of reason. This point was once obvious to many of the people eagerly hiding behind these children to wage a political battle. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks — and countless terrorist attacks since then — the op-ed pages and the airwaves bulged with cautions that we not let “vengeance” or “anger” cloud our judgment.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd spoke for so much of the liberal establishment when she lionized Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in the Iraq war. “The moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute,” Dowd insisted. NBC News turned Sheehan into a national folk hero. It didn’t matter that she hardly spoke for all parents of the fallen and was politically radical. She was too useful as a cudgel against George W. Bush.

Sheehan’s utility, like her “absolute moral authority,” had a sell-buy date, though. When she became a thorn in the side of Barack Obama, the media downgraded her to a crank and gadfly.

And that’s what I find so tawdry and mercenary about all of this. I can scarcely imagine that the same people touting the unimpeachable wisdom of children would have the same position if the children of terror attack victims called for, say, a ban on Muslims entering the country.

Of course, the response from many people to this counterfactual would be, “But that’s a bad idea,” or, “That would be unconstitutional.”

And that’s my point exactly.

In an enlightenment-based democracy, the validity of an argument is supposed to stand independent of the person — or people — making it. Two plus two equals four whether a child says so or a demagogue denies it.

Of course, in real life it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, credibility or moral authority carries more weight than arguments. And perhaps more often, passion and emotion sways. For instance, the NRA, not content with its public-policy and constitutional victories over the last decade, has taken to fomenting rage and resentment against “elites” and the media with all the precision of an unmanned fire hose. As best as I can glean from some of the ads, the point seems to be that you should keep paying your dues because the NRA is the only thing that will keep gun owners from being triggered (so to speak) by The New York Times.

The introduction of child combatants in this political war seems only fitting in the never-ending cycles of exaggeration. So now we can hear children shout, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us!” Or, “If you’re against us, you’re in favor of murdering children!”

Of course I feel sorry for the victims, and I support their right to parrot the extreme rhetoric of their elders. I don’t feel sorry for the NRA. When you turn the volume to 10 on everything, you shouldn’t be surprised when your opponents invent an even louder 11. But I am disgusted by the entire spectacle, and I feel sorry for a country that thinks any of this remotely normal.

© 2018 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.