29.3.18

CULTURE IS EMERGENT.

The Week's Paul Waldman might be deconstructing a so-called gun culture.  There's a deeper message, early in his essay.
Whatever policy changes liberals might be proposing, it's important to communicate to gun owners that you respect their culture and you don't mean to wage an assault on their way of life. When someone like retired Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens writes an op-ed in The New York Times calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment, it only convinces people that you're a bunch of gun-grabbers.

I'm all for respecting other people's cultures and taking their feelings into account. But when was the last time you heard someone implore conservatives to respect the culture of coastal or urban-dwelling liberals?

We're told that if you grew up around guns, then you're right to worry that your culture could be eroded, and we need to understand and sympathize with your perspective. But here's something that might surprise you: For millions of Americans, not having guns around is an important cultural value. It's part of how we define the kind of places we'd like to live. Since most Americans don't own guns, maybe that's worthy of respect and consideration, too.
I'd suggest that Mr Waldman check his privilege, as the "culture of coastal or urban-dwelling liberals" is the default setting for Educated Opinion as well as the baseline for all news and public affairs journalism.  Those rustics with their guns and their bass boats and their pickup trucks?  Not quite exotic enough to be celebrated in the way of Third World migrants, and thus deplorables to be put in their place.  "Respect and consideration," my eye.  Read on:
[W]hen you say something is part of your culture, you're placing it beyond reasoned judgment. Its status as a component of culture infuses it with value that can't be argued against. I don't tell you that your religious rituals are silly, because they have deep meaning for those within that culture. Your ethnic group's traditional music may not be pleasing to my ears, but I'm not going to argue that it sucks and you ought to start listening to real music, defined as whatever I happen to like. The food your parents taught you to make from the old country might not be to my taste, but I'll appreciate it (at least once or twice) as a window into another aspect of our rich human tapestry.

In other words, when you place something in the sphere of culture, you automatically afford it a kind of conditional immunity from criticism. And you can demand that it be respected.

Nobody understands this better than gun advocates, who have been working to change the culture around guns, and our expectations about them, for some time.
It came to this, dear reader, when that default setting of Educated Opinion embraced an unthinking multiculturalism, celebrating "diversity" even if that involved honor killings or clitorectomies or arranged marriages between pre-teen girls and sixty year old men or forms of music that celebrated rape or dead cops.  Fall for all those other things, why not fall for the "construction" of a gun culture?
But the "gun culture" promoted by gun advocates today is toxic. It's paranoid, angry, hostile, and is built on the idea that even the most modest restrictions on guns represent a cataclysmic evisceration of liberty. It's constantly fed fantasies of oppression and righteous violence in order to maintain its power — which of course keeps the customers buying more and more guns.

So let's ask a different question: What kind of a society do we want to create? If accepting your culture means that I also have to accept that 30,000 Americans are going to continue to be killed by guns every year, then that's just something I can't bring myself to respect.
The generalization to other dysfunctional cultural "constructions" is left to the reader as an exercise.

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