On Monday I did something I shouldn’t have. It’s been gnawing at me all week.
Monday morning, first thing after booting up my computer and before I even had a sip of tea, I clicked on a link. Yes, the same thing most of us do hundreds, if not thousands, of times per week. You’d think by now the brain would be numbed to any creepiness that might be hiding behind any link. But no.
This particular link was to an anti-gun thread on a forum I used to (until that moment) visit daily. The forum generally has nothing to do with politics, but when political discussions do arise, they can get … heated. I know that. Most of the politically engaged people on the site are also liberal or progressive or whatever they’re calling themselves these days. I know that, too. I also know that there are a handful of people on that site who, when the subject is guns, are foaming-at-the-mouth rabid. Normally I stay away, but I noticed that the most recent post in that thread was by somebody I respect. He’s not pro-gun, but he’s sensible, moderate, and often witty. So I clicked.
My eye strayed to the post right above that one. It was that post that blighted my day and much of my week.
I won’t quote it here lest it mess up your Friday, but basically, in two short paragraphs, it contained so much prejudice, ignorance, and downright irrational loathing that I was stunned. The majority of gun owners are murderers. They’re killing all the rest of us. The usual. But this person — who in other contexts has seemed friendly, smart, and reasonable — added that since gun owners are a minority nobody should have to respect their rights, anyway, so whatever the government does to us is okay.
What got to me, what still gets to me, what has gotten to me before, isn’t the sheer hatred. It isn’t the bigotry. It isn’t the fact that people like this won’t even look at facts, won’t even consider considering an opponent’s point of view. (Although that, too.)
It’s that there are so many people who froth with loathing in the name of “tolerance” or “civility” or “decency.” It’s that there are so many people who view themselves as noble defenders of minorities while wanting to wipe other minorities of the face of the earth. It’s that there are people out there who are ripe to be whipped into a deadly frenzy against some politically chosen “other” — and who don’t know it.
They’re totally unaware. They’re so mindlessly righteous of their cause that they have no grasp of the fact that all of history’s witch-burnings and pogroms and genocides have been enabled by minds functioning exactly like theirs.
It’s not the ignorance and bigotry that are the worst of it (though that, too). It’s their total absence of self-awareness.
Liberals aren’t the only ones prone to this, of course. Millions of “patriots” have marched off to slaughter, totally unaware of how they’ve been manipulated into feeling what someone else wants them to feel. During the Cold War, there were plenty of “conservatives” who were so rabidly anti-Communist that they’d have turned the U.S. into a Soviet-style police state to “protect” us from those monstrous, villainous Commies (that they themselves so came to resemble). Religious fanatics everywhere and at all times have been stirred into handy political manias, having no idea that their quest to make the world a better place by eliminating “heretics” or “infidels” would only bring catastrophe. (Oh yes, and bring profit and power to the already powerful.)
And none of them see how much alike they are. That spittle-flecked hoplophobe who scared me so much on Monday has no idea how much he’s like the “good German” who believed that political paradise could be obtained, if only the world could be rid of a few million inconvenient Jews and “defectives.” He has no idea how much he’s like the jihad supporters whose eyes gleam as they envision “improving” their world by eliminating Westerners and Western ways.
No, because totally, totally unlike them — and totally, totally unlike us drooling, unreasoning, inferior, downright murdering gun owners — he’s on the side of the angels. So what could possibly go wrong? Just annihilate a few million and …
And so the cycle of hysteria-driven disasters goes on and on and on through all of history.
I have a JPFO article due today and I plan to write about this. But frankly, beyond talking about being gobsmacked by the depth of self-unawareness I witness in the most rabid hoplophobes, I don’t know what to say.