by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
On Sunday, Americans were instructed that standing for the national anthem was an expression of “white supremacy.”
On Monday, Americans were instructed that expressing condolences — especially “thoughts and prayers” — to victims of the worst mass shooting in American history was an outrageous offense, worthy of condemnation in the vilest of terms.
Today, if I smile and wave and wish you a nice day, please know that I do so out of the universal, pre-October 3, 2017 understanding that it is cordial and polite and intending nothing but best and warmest goodness to you and others.
As of this writing, here is what we know for sure about the Las Vegas massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in American history: not that much. We know who, we don’t know why, we don’t know if there’s a who else, and we have a little bit now about with what, although how has not yet been explained.
In short, everything about it is extraordinarily unprecedented.
No fair-minded person could state definitively there were policy solutions that would have prevented it and should clearly already have been in place, let alone tell what they were and what other unintended effects they could have had on others.
No fair-minded person would have rushed forth with a political fix.
Nevertheless, within hours of the shooting, the editors of The News & Observer decided to republish a hastily written piece (filed at 10:40 a.m.) from Don Sweeney of the Sacramento Bee. The piece was about how enraging it is that people offered condolences to the victims and their families of the Las Vegas shooting — particularly maddening if they offered “thoughts and prayers.”
“Keep your ‘thoughts and prayers’ to yourself,” the article began, as Sweeney provided several examples of outraged people on Twitter demonstrating that the only acceptable public sentiment to express was to demand gun control now.
Here is what that common courtesy (deeper than courtesy, to a practicing Christian) is as viewed by that narrow slice of thought Sweeney and the N&O editors wished to amplify: “a useless — or worse — platitude intended to mute calls for action on stronger gun laws,” “a political dodge to avoid serious discussion of stronger gun laws.”
The article implies that the “problem” of sending thoughts and prayers is a Republican one (by quoting someone who writes “Dear GOP Members of Congress, F––– your thoughts and prayers”). It writes approvingly of Hillary Clinton’s “call for action”:
If Sweeney noticed that Clinton completely negated her proper call to “put politics aside” by following it immediately with “stand up to the NRA,” he thought fit not to point it out.
One wonders if, in Clinton’s mind, “politics” means “immediately blaming terrorism.” If so, perhaps in her way of thinking “standing up to the NRA” is just some apolitical act that all Americans do by dint of being American, like enjoying baseball or singing the national anth— wait, strike that and replace it with enjoying gluten-free, sustainably produced apple pie, preferably vegan-friendly.
Common courtesy is common, however, meaning it is shared widely by people. That being the case, many notably non-Republicans also took to Twitter expressing sympathy, apparently “intending” to mute and dodge serious action on stronger gun laws. They included former President Barack Obama and Governor Roy Cooper:
I think they, at least, will be forgiven.