Many conservative pundits were agitated by the March For Our Lives’ lack of civility last weekend — and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg’s speech particularly outraged them.
Hogg began his speech by placing a $1.05 price tag on the podium, declaring that’s how much Florida Sen. Marco Rubio “took” for every student who died during the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Hogg essentially argued Rubio makes money off of dead kids.
The young student then went on to issue a call for revolution against NRA-backed politicians and ended his speech with a strange, clenched-fist salute.
Conservative commentators, particularly critics of President Donald Trump, were aghast at such rhetoric. Jonah Goldberg decried it as “grotesque demagoguery.” National Review’s David French wondered whether “the adult activists think this kind of rhetoric is a good idea.”
Rubio himself responded by pleading for compromise, an idea the gun control activists scoff at.
It really shouldn’t be a shock that this uncivil rhetoric dominated the March for Our Lives rally. The Parkland gun control advocates have repeatedly made similar assertions ever since they emerged in the public eye. Hogg previously made an ad calling Republican politicians the “bitch of the NRA,” for instance.
It’s not like the civil debate referee is going to jump in and throw a flag at these kids. This is the rhetoric they’ve embraced and their supporters relish.
Why be civil when you think the NRA is a for-profit terror group and the GOP wants more dead kids?
A huge sign displayed on Capitol Hill last week encapsulated this left-wing hostility.
— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) March 23, 2018
Many conservative pundits see the debate as a difference in politics, not morality. Liberals think otherwise and have no use for civil debate. Supporting gun rights makes you a bad person who deserves only contempt and appealing to the old rules of political decor isn’t going to sway any progressives.
Too often the American Right makes civility a holy virtue to their own disadvantage. Their opposition doesn’t respect the position and has no use for it. Conservatives flail their arms about the lack of civility while the Left further advances its agenda.
A good example of conservative delusion with civility occurred in the wake of Republican congressman coming under fire from a left-wing gunman last summer. While politics clearly motivated the gunman and the histrionic media narratives likely influenced him, the GOP insisted the attack just showed America needed to be more civil. (RELATED: Republicans Delude Themselves With Demands For More Civility)
Democrats disingenuously agreed, all while making sure to place the blame for America’s toxic discourse on Trump and the Republicans. But as soon as the shooting faded from news coverage, Democrats went straight back to claiming the GOP wanted to murder millions of Americans with its health care plan.
Even though House Majority Whip Steve Scalise nearly died from the shooting, no Democrat or journalist was convinced to tone down their rhetoric.
Do you really think the Parkland kids will do just that because a few Republicans are upset?
Appealing to civility only works in a society where both sides respect each other and share similar values. That’s not the case for contemporary America.
Liberals in particular see their positions as not only right politically but morally as well. You can’t have a civil debate when your opponents are evil.
It’s why the gun debate has degenerated into vicious accusations and full-blown hysteria. Disagreeing with gun control means you want dead kids, so there’s no point in being nice to you.
Conservatives who insist on civility may think they’re taking the moral high-ground, but all they’re doing is making themselves appear weak and out-of-touch. Their enemies are not going to respect them for wanting civil discourse.
There is a silver lining to the extreme rhetoric of gun control advocates. Last weekend’s rally sent a clear message to gun owners that gun control advocates aren’t about “common sense” reform — they want to take your firearms.
As one speaker admitted, “When they give us that inch, that bump stock ban, we will take a mile.”
Republicans should take note of that strategy. There may have been a window of opportunity for the country to come together and implement gun restrictions in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, but the polarization of our political discourse doomed those chances right at the start.
When the one Republican senator who was willing to reach out to the other side becomes the primary target for gun control advocates, conservatives should rethink prioritizing civility above all else.
Liberals don’t see their opponents as fellow Americans with legitimate disagreements. They only see their foes as amoral reactionaries who need to be crushed.