Saturday was the March for Our Lives, a set of demonstrations against the NRA and in favor of gun control, spearheaded by survivors of the February 14 gun massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. The event was massive, drawing hundreds of thousands of supportive marchers across the country.
The conservative reaction to the march was similar to their reaction right after the shooting, when Stoneman Douglas kids like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg faced down the NRA and its dogma. But this time the reaction was a little more amped up: While earlier the brethren had been combative, now their rage was barely coherent.
There was also some straight-up denial. Organizers and USA Today put attendance for the Washington, D.C., march at 800,000 — I was there and think that’s a good guess — but CBS reported it at 200,000, giving the Daily Caller’s Kerry Picket leave to proclaim attendance “Well Below Expected and Initial Reports.” “Attendance at Student March for Gun Control Less Than Half of Expected Crowd,” repeated Breitbart, and other right-wing sites carried the message, ignoring march attendance in dozens of other cities like New York (175,000), Los Angeles (40,000), Chicago (85,000), and Atlanta (30,000).
“There’s was nothing historic about the March for Our Lives,” insisted Samuel Gonzalez at the Last Tradition. “It’s just another one of many Lib marches that have come down the pike since the 60s” — you know, like MLK’s March on Washington and the Vietnam Moratorium: just some hippie bullshit.
Some pleaded for civility while visibly shaking with rage. The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher had vapors because David Hogg implied Senator Marco Rubio’s “price tag” had been met by the NRA. Imagine, saying a politician had been “bought” by a special interest! “That is the horrifying moment that the anti-gun movement lost the chance of ever winning me over,” tsked Dreher. (Spoiler: There was never any chance of winning Dreher over.) Then, to show how seriously he took his own civility argument, Dreher called Hogg a “disgusting little creep.”
Some made an effort to play it cool with their adversaries, but lost their composure, usually after a few column inches.
Matt Vespa of TownHall started out conciliatory — “there are areas where gun control activists and the pro-Second Amendment camp can meet” — then turned premonitory: “But we’ll never get there. It’s all a trap.” Vespa cited as an example of gun-nut good faith “bills that strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)” — an extremely feeble concession which Congressional Republicans aren’t serious about passing anyway — then professed outrage that Stoneman Douglas student Delaney Tarr said at the rally, “When they give us that inch, that bump stock ban, we will take a mile. We are not here for bread crumbs. We are here for real change.” And after everything they’d done for her!
“This is not just a fight over the Second Amendment,” Vespa warned People of the Gun; “after they’re done with the Second Amendment, the great progressive campaign to shred the Constitution of its institutional mechanisms that prevent mob rule through transient majorities will begin.” Transient majorities! Forbid it, almighty God!
Vespa bade his fellow trigger-ticklers “use their hate to motivate you; head to that voting precinct on 2018 and don’t check that box that reads ‘Democratic.’ ” When the Democrats lose the support of all those NRA members who’ve apparently been voting for them for some reason, they’ll know the People of the Gun are serious.
“It was more irritating than anything else,” began Vespa’s colleague Kevin McCullough, that if you merely criticized the Stoneman Douglas kids, “there was an immediate lashing out in response.” So uncivilized! But as he went on, McCullough couldn’t resist a little “lashing out” himself at the “uber-rich and hard-left celebrities” who were paying off these brats; he called Douglas spokesman David Hogg a “maniac, cursing vulgarity with hubris unchecked”; foamed over the “belligerent band of media hyped know-nothings”; and eventually accused the students of trying to “put more children (like mine) at greater risk in years to come.”
Finally McCullough pulled his ace: “Hogg reminded everyone on Saturday that the hashtag for their cause is #NotOneMore. He then cited 96 gun deaths per day in America (not just of kids but of gun users of all ages.) Meanwhile in abortion clinics across America each day.…”
Some scholarly types whipped out their pro-gun slide rules. “March for Our Lives: Gun control ideas sound good, but are deeply flawed and won’t save lives,” noted right-wing gun scholar and sock puppeteer John R. Lott assured Fox News readers. “Supporting gun control is now the ‘in thing,’ ” Lott actually wrote (the explanatory quotes may be an editor’s fault); though “stars such as Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus tweet their support,” Lott continued, it was all so much goldfish-swallowing, streaking, and rainbow-partying, because “only 47 percent of Americans between 13 and 17 believe that more gun control could reduce mass public shootings.” Of course other polls show that 67 percent of Americans want more gun control anyway, but never mind — Lott was willing to meet the kids halfway, or actually negative 100 percent of the way, advocating “more armed law enforcement officers and security guards in schools.”
Others went for something a lot less reasonable.
At the Federalist, Stella Morabito had questions that she demanded “Mass Schooling Survivors Need to Answer Before Hyping Gun Control.” Morabito found kids getting shot to pieces less concerning than the menace of formal education — in previous columns Morabito said public school “promotes the semantic fog that allows for mind rape”; see also her “13 Ways Public Schools Incubate Mental Instability in Kids” and similar ravings.
This, explained Morabito, is why the mind-raped Stoneman Douglas kids allowed themselves to be “used as political pawns, marching in lockstep for an undebated opinion” — they had been warned, possibly via mind-rays, that they’d be “socially rejected” if they didn’t “conform to certain attitudes and behaviors,” which, you gotta admit, makes school radically different from any other area of American life. However, if the kids showed sufficient “mass conformity” to their schoolmasters by objecting to being stalked by heavily armed madmen, they would be rewarded with “glossy cover stories” and “celebrity status.” Why else would they protest?
Morabito fired off a number of questions for the kids, like “Do you see signs of relational aggression in your school?” (by the time they look it up, she’s left with their lunch money!) and “Do you know the difference between a developed personality and a persona?” before the men in the white coats stuffed her into a waiting van.
Morabito wasn’t the only one who smelled lefty conspiracy — nor even, and it surprises me to say this, the craziest. “The Left’s move to now intimidate, marginalize, dehumanize, and shame anyone who disagrees with them on this issue is Groundhog Day for every totalitarian regime in history,” frothed Nina May at Laura Ingraham’s LifeZette. “In Nazi Germany, it was Jewish people who were marginalized and forced to wear yellow armbands of shame — and ridiculed for their ‘despicable’ crime of being who they were and not something else.” Similarly, Emma Gonzales might not take a gun nut to prom. It’s 1933 all over again!
You’ll be hearing a lot more of this kind of thing from the brethren — more Hitler Gun Control stories, more unconvincing statistics, more savage denunciations of the Douglas Stoneman kids, as well as more “haw, you called a magazine a clip!” and other variants of gun-nut palaver. That’s because the pressure to come up with something more than thoughts and prayers on gun violence is, despite their fervent wishes, not going away, and eventually it’s going to sink in with the guys that, in order to keep the NRA cash flowing, they’ve bargained away the youth vote for at least a generation — and, unlike with LBJ and the Civil Rights Act, history won’t be kind to their bargain.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 26, 2018