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WILLIAMS: Politicizing grief

- - Sunday, July 29, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Anyone who reads my columns can tell you that it is one of my mantras that politics should take up as little space in your life as possible. If it doesn't, it's only out of necessity occasioned by bad government, something we have in surplus.

A normal, healthy person with a functioning conscience should recoil with horror at the gruesome killings of a dozen Americans and the woundings of 59 others in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo. If you don't feel that, there's something wrong with you.

If your first reaction is, say, to get political, to condescend to our nation's Founding Fathers about the fact that guns are instruments of violence, then there is most certainly something wrong with you.

Sir Salman Rushdie, one of our greatest living novelists, contributed to the world this brilliant thought: "The 'right to bear arms' is the real Bane of America." It irks me even to have to repeat it. Who doesn't joke around about a national tragedy a few hours after it happens?

His vulgarity was matched only by his pettiness. Mr. Rushdie went on to attack perfect strangers ad hominem for bringing up his transgression of basic decency. He mocked Michelle Malkin for her perfectly understandable outrage at his comments, and posted what only he must think are pithy comments, such as, "Don't like puns? Fine. I don't like guns."

Who doesn't see an equivalence there?

One would think that a man who has been pursued for decades by the Iranian government for speaking freely about Islam would be a bit more charitable toward those with whom he disagrees. Instead, he revealed himself to have a personality and sense of humor as childish as his political beliefs, as selective and hypocritical a reverence for free speech as that of the Iranian government. It was an unwanted confirmation of what I had suspected from reading Mr. Rushdie's previous commentaries about religion, namely that he seems to have stopped thinking about the big issues somewhere around his 19th birthday. Whatever will impress the cool kids at "The Daily Show."

The New Yorker, as usual, could not bear to be outdone in stark, raving liberalism. Adam Gopnik posted a piece called "One More Tragedy" on its website, with a gratuitous photo of a grief-stricken woman, which reminded me of Michael Moore's use of gruesome footage in "Fahrenheit 9/11," and his trotting around of the suffering Cindy Sheehan and Lila Lipscomb. I predict that we will see more of such behavior in the wake of these awful killings.

The text of the article was no less exploitative. "Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue," Mr. Gopnik wrote. Why can't we be more like the tiny, statist European countries? Requisite anti-Americanism? Check. Libel of Second Amendment supporting Americans ("the blood lobby")? Also check.

Fortunately for us ignorant regular folk clinging to our guns and religion, Mr. Rushdie and Mr. Gopnik turned out to be constitutional scholars, as well. Both men wrote that the Second Amendment really just meant the right to a well-regulated militia. "Individual right to bear arms survived by a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court (D.C. v Heller, 2008), powerful dissents. This argument isn't over," Mr. Rushdie said. Of course, they cited no Founding Father, least of all Federalist 46, in which James Madison argues that the American people would be difficult to oppress because they are well-armed. What did Mr. Rushdie say to someone who, albeit in a less articulate manner, argued the same? "congrats, sir or madam, you get the prize for dumbest right wing remark." Too bad President James Madison isn't here to defend himself.

It just goes to show, as so much else does, that for the left, all that matters is your intentions. If you need evidence of this, look at their stubbornness about their policies in the teeth of all results; they never sell us their ideas based on their results, only on their quixotic hopes. The same principle applies here: As long as you're one of the good guys, go ahead, make a few jokes, call a few names. Hey, it's for a good cause.

The paparazzi treatment of the whole affair as a commoditized news story is, despite its hideousness, predictable. I had hoped that exploiting the innocent victims of a random and senseless act was not.

Armstrong Williams, author of the 2010 book "Reawakening Virtues," is on Sirius Power 128 from 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside. Read his content on RightSideWire.com.