Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"How To Tear A Nation Apart"--The American Interest

In the immediate aftermath of the Orlando attack, I penned a post I entitled "The Orlando Attack and the Fragmentation of America." Besides a quick summary of the facts as they were then known, I also observed that the incident would be used to (i) call for more gun control, and (ii) be used to further shame and ostracize social conservatives. I concluded that "rather than seeing the unity that followed 9/11, this incident will result in the widening of the divides within the American body politic."

Well, I'm glad to say that I'm not the only one recognizing the divisive nature of the response to this attack. The American Interest has published a short piece by Jason Willick called "How to Tear a Nation Apart" that explores this same topic, although he focuses on the gun control aspect. Willick writes:
Watching the grimly predictable response to the Orlando tragedy, however, almost makes one wonder whether there was more to Gadahn’s evil exhortation than meets the eye. The purpose of terrorist attacks is not, first and foremost, to kill and maim people, but to sow fear and distrust, to undermine the public spirit—to undermine the very fabric of a society. Depending on the circumstances, guns may or may not be more effective instruments of murder than any other tools terrorists have used in the past. But there is no question that they are superior when it comes to one thing: Pitting Americans against each other.
He goes on to explain:
Guns occupy a critical space in America’s increasingly acerbic culture wars, a manifestation of the broader social convection currents taking place below the surface. For Jacksonians who are losing faith in the ability of established institutions to preserve order, the Second Amendment is a bulwark against totalitarian movements, like Islamism, that would undermine American liberty. Under this deeply held view, attacks by ISIS-enthusiasts strengthen, rather than weaken, the case for gun rights. But for cosmopolitan liberals, gun rights are an anachronism—a symbol of all the wrong-headed views espoused by working class whites. Set these two warring camps against each other in the context of an ongoing terror threat, and you push an already divided society even further down the path of tribalism and fracture. 
The attackers in Orlando and San Bernardino accomplished something the attackers in Boston and New York didn’t: They drove a wedge between patriotic Americans, and managed to ensure that our grieving over the dead was polluted from the outset by a din of vicious political assaults. By any measure, they and their fellow travelers must consider this a great success. Perhaps terrorists who choose to carry out their massacres with guns are actually “taking advantage” of American society in a rather different way than many liberals think. 
I used the word "resentment" to describe the feelings between those pushing for gun control and those pushing against. Gun owners believe that they have already given up more rights than necessary, and resent more being piled on. Gun haters simply resent the fact that anyone would disagree with them. When they use the term "common-sense" or "reasonable" gun control, what they mean is that anyone that disagrees with them lacks common-sense or is being unreasonable. There is neither middle-ground nor compromise.

America is headed for a divorce, so to speak, because there are strong factions within the country that resent the actions of others, and have gotten to the point where they loathe each other. In other words, Irreconcilable differences.

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