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Culture Dance Battle!

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Totally normal.

David Brooks is sore we didn’t take his advice from a column where he advised us to let red state conservatives take the lead in the gun control conversation.

The people pushing for gun restrictions have basically done the exact opposite of what I thought was wise. Instead of depolarizing the issue they have massively polarized it. The students from Parkland are being assisted by all the usual hyper-polarizing left-wing groups: Planned Parenthood, Move On and the Women’s March. The rhetoric has been extreme. Marco Rubio has been likened to a mass murderer while the N.R.A. has been called a terrorist organization.

The early results would seem to completely vindicate my position. The Florida Legislature turned aside gun restrictions. New gun measures in Congress have been quickly shelved. Democrats are more likely to lose House and Senate seats in the key 2018 pro-gun states. The losing streak continues.

Yet I have to admit that something bigger is going on. It could be that progressives understood something I didn’t. It could be that you can win more important victories through an aggressive cultural crusade than you can through legislation. Progressives could be on the verge of delegitimizing their foes, on guns but also much else, rendering them untouchable for anybody who wants to stay in polite society. That would produce social changes far vaster than limiting assault rifles.

But, honestly, while letting people who have zero interest in enacting meaningful gun control lead the charge sounds good in theory I’m not sure it will work in practice.

Second, progressives are getting better and more aggressive at silencing dissenting behavior. All sorts of formerly legitimate opinions have now been deemed beyond the pale on elite campuses. Speakers have been disinvited and careers destroyed. The boundaries are being redrawn across society.

This would have been a great place to include the names of the people whose careers have been “destroyed” but he doesn’t do that. Perhaps he’s trying to add a bit of whimsy and mystery to this column. Who knows?

As Andrew Sullivan noted recently, “workplace codes today read like campus speech codes of a few years ago.” There are a number of formerly popular ideas that can now end your career: the belief that men and women have inherent psychological differences, the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, opposition to affirmative action.

Again, this seems like a good place to list some names, but Brooks–sexily, coyly–withholds them. I’m gonna call it–he’s a name-tease.

What’s happening today is that certain ideas about gun rights, and maybe gun ownership itself, are being cast in the realm of the morally illegitimate and socially unacceptable.

“Maybe” is doing so much work here I’m pretty sure it’s toiling away in one of Ivanka’s sweatshops.

I don’t like this kind of disingenuousness. When us coastal elites talk about gun ownership we’re not talking about people who have one pistol and use it responsibly. We’re talking about people who hoard guns, love guns, want to take them father-daughter dances where the guns will pledge their virginity to their daddies ’til they grow up and marry another gun in a nice, wholesome, hetero gun marriage ceremony.

I mean, yes, I’ll admit that I’d like to make it actually a huge pain in the ass to own a gun. Extensive background check, 2-month waiting period, minimum. And I don’t think anyone should be able to own more than one gun. But I’m honest about that.

That’s the importance of the corporate efforts to end N.R.A. affiliations. It’s not about N.R.A. members saving some money when they fly. It’s that they are not morally worthy of being among the affiliated groups. The idea is to stigmatize.

That’s true! We do use stigma to shame things we find distasteful and harmful–like racism and misogyny. This is a good thing. Hoarding guns just to own the libs is a bad thing. You better bet I’m gonna stigmatize the hell out of it.

Continued school shootings could be just the thing that persuades the mainstream that conservatism is vulgar and socially illegitimate, somewhere between smoking and segregationism. If that kind of total victory is on offer for progressives, why should they take my advice and tone things down for the sake of a few small gun laws? The big prize here is not gun laws. It’s winning the culture war, with the gunfight as the final battle.

The only thing I’d say to my progressive friends is, be careful how you win your victories. It is one thing to win by persuasion and another thing to win by elite cultural intimidation. Illiberalism breeds illiberalism. Using elite power, whether economic or cultural, to silence less educated foes usually produces a backlash.

Bitch, if you don’t consider the past 10 years awash in backlash politics I don’t know what to tell you. Listen, we just elected Donald Trump president. What, exactly, are we libs supposed to be afraid of? It’s Thunderdome now as far as I’m concerned.

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