Commentary

Never Let a Tragedy Go to Waste

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As Krysta Lilly has already pointed out in a Lewiston Sun Journal column, Michael Bloomberg has already spent over $3,000,000 to promote a citizen’s initiative designed to disarm Mainers. It has been assumed for some time that he aims to spend $5,000,000 altogether.

Of course we are all feeling grateful for Mayor Mike’s generosity. But some must feel a little puzzled as well. Bloomberg was born in Boston. He didn’t go to college here. He owns homes in New York City, Westchester, Long Island, Bermuda, London, Colorado and Florida but not so much as a lean-to in Maine. He’s never shown much taste for hobnobbing with inconsequential yokels from the sticks before. He’s from away and seems intent on staying away. So why is he planning to spend over 10 dollars on every registered voter in our state?

There are lots of obvious reasons. Maine has a citizen’s initiative mechanism, and the gun-control freaks haven’t had much luck with legislatures outside the most liberal states. Media buys in Maine are among the cheapest in the nation. The left had an encouraging success in our state with the passage of a gay marriage referendum. Liberal domination of Maine’s media will support the control nuts’ project at no cost. The Maine People’s Alliance is always standing by to exploit the latest liberal excitement. And, a break-through in one of the nation’s most heavily armed states could point the way to bigger wins down the road.

As Matthew Gagnon remarks in his June 15 column “…the left…went almost immediately insane, using dead bodies in an attempt to prey on the sorrow and guilt felt by all Americans, to make it more likely their meaningless, platitude-filled gun confiscation agenda is passed.” Putting it a little differently, the butchery of 49 unarmed citizens out for a good time at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando gives a huge emotional impetus to the current gun control offensive. Lots of pictures, blood, corpses, grieving survivors and shocked bystander; Orlando has it all.

Bloomberg and his allies will take advantage of the opportunity given to them by Omar Mateen. The control-nuts have always exploited the emotional impact of such horrors in the past and this is their best opportunity to date.

When we examine the Orlando massacre press coverage in Maine’s principle journals, we see the primary emphasis is on the firearms that walked in to the Pulse dance hall. An Islamic terrorist was following these weapons, pulling the trigger, reloading and pulling it some more, but the control-nuts will not allow this fact to divert attention from the culpability of the guns and the guilt of the Second Amendment.

Some people argue that Islam has more to do with the tragedy than gun ownership. There is some evidence that seems to support this suspicion. In 2014, Ali Muhammed Brown killed four Americans on a “mission of vengeance” against the United States, and Alton Nolen beheaded an Oklahoma woman with a knife. His social media pages were covered with evidence of jihadist leanings and motivations. In May 2015, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi attacked an exhibit of Mohammed images in Garland, Texas. In July Mohammad Abdulazeez killed five people at two Chattanooga recruiting stations. In November, Faisal Mohammed went on an ISIS-inspired stabbing spree — wounding four. In December, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS, then killed 14 people and wounded 21 at a Christmas party in San Bernardino, Calif. In January 2016, Edward Archer pledged himself to ISIS and attempted to assassinate a Philadelphia police officer.

None of the newspapers regularly available to Mainers are willing to take this possibility very seriously. They seem intent on the concentrating the public’s attention on the AR-15, on “America’s love affair with guns,” on “assault guns,” the NRA, the gun lobby, “gun nuts,” etc. When considering all these usual suspects, liberal journalists and politicians think and speak with certainty and clarity. When pondering the Islamic factor, they get mired in nuances, questions, complications and ambiguities.

So, the New York Times editorialists on June 13 start by condemning Donald Trump for using the atrocity for his own “warped ends,” and proceed to train their powerful collective intellect on “the many factors” that “appear to have contributed to the slaughter of the Pulse nightclub.” After three paragraphs dealing with this and that, they get down to the real business at hand, with nine paragraphs denouncing “Washington’s cowardly lawmakers” [who don’t control guns], the National Rifle Association, “the gun industry and its supporters,” cowboys who think they should have the means to protect themselves, “the gun violence epidemic” and the “gun violence embedded in American culture.”

The Op-Ed page opposite contains “Orlando and Trump’s America” by Roger Cohen and “Time for a ‘No Buy’ List on Guns,” by Professor Adam Winkler. The letters to the editor are all in sync with the editorials.

The Boston Globe is out in front of the NYT. On June 16, its entire front page, under the banner headline “MAKE IT STOP” and a large picture of the AR-15 rifle, was devoted to gun control. When the Globe’s editorialists think gun control, they think AR-15. They point out that “The United States has been pummeled by gun violence since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004,” and go on to say “This year, mass shootings have already claimed 61 lives. One class of gun, semi-automatic rifles, is largely responsible. But this nation cannot be a hostage of fear. We can make it stop.”

Earlier that day the Globe’s Twitter account also posted a #MakeItStop hashtag with the names and ages of Americans killed by guns. The list makes no reference to Americans killed by ISIS fanatics. It lists everyone killed by gun violence. The hashtag #MuslimsDontKillPeopleGunsKillPeople might have conveyed their intent more exactly.

The Portland Press Herald’s June 14 editorial shared the common liberal preference for pointing the accusatory finger at Americans rather than Islamic terrorists. It concedes that Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS, but points out that he was born in America. He was one of “us” as much as he was one of “them,” the editorial said. He didn’t need a foreign ideology to learn to hate LGBT people. Having disposed of concerns about Muslim radicalism, the editorial gets down to the business at hand. “Americans would be safer with common-sense amendments to our gun laws, and reflexive opposition from the gun lobby is putting our lives at risk,” it adds. The Central Maine paper’s editorial on the same day duplicated the Portland paper.

The Bangor Daily News editorial board skirted around the motives of the actual shooter and derides the hand-wringing and finger-pointing they expect. Then they point a finger at the “easy access to guns” and wrings their hands over the failure to embrace “the four simple steps” that “won’t end gun violence and won’t prevent all future mass shootings,” but “can help reduce the carnage.”

BDN columnist Patricia Callahan has no hesitation in pointing her shapely finger: “Exactly how many people,” she asks, “have to be mowed down during the normal course of human events like going to a movie, school, work or a bar on a Saturday night before our elected officials clue into the idea that AR-15s and other high-capacity magazine weaponry don’t belong in civilian hands?” There we see the full flush of the emotional appeal the control nuts are counting on.

In her excitement, Patricia gives away a secondary motive. She quotes Rep. Bruce Poliquin about the Great American Bathroom Crisis, even though he has said nothing worth quoting on the gun-control issue. All the liberal journalist, politicians, and commentators are hoping to shoot the Republicans with the AR-15—in a manner of speaking.

The material cited are but a sample of a lot more along the same line, and all rely on direct, vivid emotional appeal. Immediate action is demanded even though no one attempts to make a clear case that their proposals will have any practical effect.

There you see the essence of the tragedy-strategy: Exploit the horror and fears of the moment to promote immediate action. No test of the effectiveness of such actions is ever proposed.

It’s fair to acknowledge that conservative columnists have been given space to reply: Matthew Gagnon and Michael Cianchette (BDN) and MD Harmon (Central Maine Papers).

About John Frary

Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former US Congress candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United and publisher of www.fraryhomecompanion.com and can be reached at: jfrary8070@aol.com

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