I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the very reasonable host made a rather illustrative statement on firearms. He said that he did not want the Second Amendment repealed, but he wasn’t sure that people should have fully-automatic weapons. I would have chalked this up to a brain fart, but he repeated the phrases “fully-automatic” or “machine gun” so many times in the course of his monologue that there were only two options available for interpretation: he was lying or he actually thought that Americans were buying fully-automatic weapons at the gun store. As someone who likes to think of himself as reasonable, I chose the latter explanation as being the most likely.
It struck me that if a podcaster was broadcasting this very basic mistake to his audience, then it was very likely that this was a general misconception among the unarmed public. How, though? Ace provides the beginning of the explanation:
Leftists have struggled hard, and achieved great success, at making Leftism the default politics of anyone who actually doesn’t think about politics. [Lindsay Shephard] thought she was a leftist, she says, because she cared about being nice to people and rode a bicycle instead of driving a car.
That, in her mind, was “leftist.” And the leftists put a lot of effort into making people think they were leftists or aligned with the left if they merely thought you should be nice to people and also liked trees.
In the universities it’s fairly easy to push this, since the political stance usually pushed as the only reasonable one is that of the left. However, the universities feed directly into Hollywood, Silicon Valley, publishing, and many large corporations, where these bad ideas become the only ideas that a decent person can hold. Hell, remember when the statement “Men have penises” was not controversial? It wasn’t that long ago.
So how do we break these attitudes that have bled into every corner of the culture, including the Republican Party? I’m not really sure, but if we can’t recognize that they’ve become the de facto mode of thought for many people, then there’s no way to push back against them.
I guess Derrida was good for something.