Whenever Democrats call for more gun control after a mass shooting, the conservative press slaps on the “politicize” label.
Politicians are guilty of applying this double standard, too, of course. In fact, President Obama, who went so far as to say after a mass shooting in Oregon in October that such events are “something we should politicize,” previously derided Republicans for politicizing the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
The theme here is obvious: It’s fine to use death to advance a cause you believe in. But it’s appallingly tasteless to use death to advance a cause you don’t.
This is hypocritical and also just plain silly, because it sets up a false choice: We don’t have to decide to either honor victims of violence or take action to prevent future episodes. Far from being mutually exclusive, the two responses are actually complementary. One way to honor the dead is to create change out of loss. And in order to effect some kind of change, you have to politicize things. Policy just doesn't change in a non-political vacuum.
Now, that’s not to say Democrats’ gun control proposals are necessarily right or that Republicans’ national security prescriptions are perfect, either. It’s merely to say that it’s okay to feel compelled to act when tragedy strikes.
Maybe that’s politicizing things. But maybe “politicize” shouldn’t be a dirty word.