William B. Turner
Good Christian “conservative” Laura Ingraham has drawn a lot of attention lately on Twitter for sniping at Parkland shooting survivor and newly minted political celebrity David Hogg, who made the mistake of announcing publicly that four of the universities he has applied to have rejected him. When intelligent, thoughtful adults hear such laments from high school students, they respond with consolation and encouragement. Not that good Christian, Laura Ingraham. She saw a golden opportunity to dig the knife of Second Amendment absolutism in a bit deeper.
This is utterly predictable. Of course good Christians in the United States would defend the absolutist reading of the Second Amendment vigorously and viciously, which is how Ingraham does everything. Christians with guns were what made the United States possible. Christians killed a lot of Natives in “the Americas” without firing a shot because the two populations had lived without contact for so long that Europeans had developed immunity to many diseases that Natives were hugely susceptible to. This diminishes Christian moral responsibility for the deaths somewhat, but the point remains, it would not have happened that way at all had the Christians just stayed home instead of invading.
But invade they did, and killed off a lot of the Natives who survived the new diseases either quite deliberately, as when conquistador Balboa found men dressed as women in “central America” and fed them to his dogs, in a classic display of Christian morality, or by forcing them to mine silver and gold for export back to Spain.
The happy fairy tale of Thanksgiving is just that – a fairy tale. Much of “New England” had been depopulated of Natives by disease when the Puritans showed up, so they perceived the land as being unoccupied, but once they started coming into contact with Natives, open conflict followed quickly. Natives attacked the Europeans, but the Europeans were the invaders. Most good Second Amendment absolutists think they should be free to shoot at anyone who invades their home, and they should, but that moral principle surely operates to allow Natives to defend their homes from European invasion in the 17th century. Unfortunately for them, the good Christians had more guns and so won that war, killing for Jesus.
When the European invaders were not killing Natives literally, they were busy killing Native culture by taking Native children into schools that the Europeans ran to try to “civilize” them. Laura Ingraham’s vicious attack on David Hogg is the epitome of the “civilization” Christians brought to “the Americas.” She takes the position that no attack is too base, no moral qualm need operate, when one is locked in hand to hand combat – with a teen ager who recently found himself thrust into national prominence as the result of a horrible tragedy at his high school. A worthy opponent indeed.
Good Christians often want everyone in the United States to be patriots, but patriots according to their peculiar definition. A few years ago, a controversy erupted in Denver when good “conservatives” on the school board proposed implementing a new committee to “review” the content of the AP US history course in the district, directing teachers in the course to emphasize “patriotic” material, respect for authority, and the free market system, and minimize attention to “civil disorder, social strife, and disregard for the law.” Huh. One wonders how many of these good “conservatives” were also active in the late “tea party” movement within the Republican Party. You know, that disorderly social movement that took as its inspiration the illegal act of dumping tea into Boston Harbor on the eve of the illegal American Revolution?
The “conservative” is a picayune, exclusive, divisive definition of “patriotism.” Last time I checked, our republic depended for its existence on a six year revolutionary war against the existing government and establishment of an entirely new government in its place.
Ah, the dilemma of the good “conservative” in the distinctively liberal republic. How to defend good, conservative values in a culture that rests on defiance of authority? Such a pickle. Young David Hogg could quite reasonably claim inspiration from the likes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. I suspect Ms. Ingraham may have heard those names before. Her sniping is not even political. Like many good “conservatives” – Rush Limbaugh calling a young woman a “slut” for demanding access to contraceptives, the idiotic claim that transgender women are just men who want a cheap excuse to get into the women’s restroom – she substitutes the pettiest, cheapest of personal attacks for actual arguments about policy.
Laura Ingraham is one of many semi automatic assault rifles in the arsenal of U.S. “conservatism”: she sprays fire more or less randomly, just hoping she will hit a target. Happily, high school students who have endured a real school shooting realize that Ingraham only fires intellectual blanks and do not seem much inclined to hide from her thoughtless fusillade. Let’s take a page from another Democratic president, Andrew Jackson, at the battle of New Orleans, where he saved the new republic from another attack by conservatives – wait until you see the whites of their eyes, then return fire.