The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Something is deadly wrong in this country

National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch attacked the media coverage of gun violence at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 22, 2018. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: JIM WATSON/The Washington Post)
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Oh, for God’s sake.

What else can one say about the week after Florida’s high school massacre? Funerals for the 17 students and faculty were barely begun before rhetoric on the right descended into indecency.

Much of it came from the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, a gathering of the extreme right who snack on brimstone. Speaking to the mostly young crowd, politicians and officials from the National Rifle Association went ballistic over recent talk of gun control. Low points included characterizing the media as loving mass shootings and as wanting to advance its socialist agenda.

Is this really the best we can do? I ask this not as a member of the media but as someone who grew up with guns; lives in a house with guns; knows how to shoot and is good at it; doesn’t object to hunting for food; has friends in the NRA. My father, a lawyer, once told me in confidence that the only law he would never obey was to register his guns. (Because then “they” can collect them.)

National Rifle Associate spokesperson Dana Loesch once wrote a motherhood blog. Now she’s a vocal advocate for firearm ownership. (Video: Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)

I’ve weathered my share of gun spookiness, in other words, with the result that I’m neither anti-gun nor a socialist. I do not, however, feel the need to pose in pictures wearing a tightfitting dress and heels, while holding my very own AR-15, as NRA spokesvixen Dana Loesch does on the cover of her book. I’m not absolutely sure, but this increasingly common pose among youngish female conservatives seems aimed at sexualizing guns, or metaphorizing weapons to within an inch of their lives.

A few highlights from the lectern:

Loesch, who gained prominence as a “conservative” radio host, projected a she-devil in Prada when she pointed to members of the media and said, “Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it. I’m not saying that you love the tragedy, but I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many of the legacy media in the back.”

National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 22. (Video: The Washington Post)

I once managed to cross the storm-tossed Strait of Gibraltar with my stomach intact, but this vile idiocy is too much.

Crying white mothers? Loesch explained that black mothers are crying every day and “you don’t see town halls for them,” she said. Obviously, Loesch was making oblique reference to Chicago — a pro-gun talking point that finds its way to my email folder every day. The point: Chicago’s deaths by handgun far outnumber the totals by AR-15 or other semiautomatic weapons. Different story, often covered. What’s true is that school shootings seem to be the domain of white boys focused on killing their mostly white peers.

To segregate grieving parents by race, essentially mocking the mothers we’ve witnessed of late, is disgusting. To applaud such distortionist propaganda should be beneath any serious adult concerned enough with these mass assaults to consider sensible alternatives to doing nothing.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a human bellows (useful at campfires), criticized CNN’s town hall as an “infomercial,” and said calls for new restrictions were “tiresome.” As are so many people these days. “Every time you see a horrific crime, people in the media and Democratic politicians immediately try to leap on it to advance their agenda,” which is to strip “the Second Amendment rights away from law-abiding citizens,” Cruz said.

Ruth Marcus

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No, actually, the media follows news. A school massacre qualifies. And, yes, people want to know more as a way of seeking solutions. But hating the media is how many Republicans pass the buck. You can’t talk about freedom while also making an argument for gutting the First Amendment.

Longtime NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre cited the Democrats’ “socialist” agenda and, without irony, said, “As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain.” Check.

Therein lies the problem in any debate these days. We’re either on the slippery slope to serfdom or everybody gets an AR-15. Surely there is sane ground in between such extremes. ­LaPierre may have many valid points, but when he, Loesch and others speak in tongues of hyperbole and conspiratorial incantations, they are not to be taken seriously.

When the final showdown is between the NRA and children who have just buried their friends, brothers, sisters, teachers and coach, something is deadly wrong in this country. Out of respect for the dead, wounded and grieving, the adults need to stop acting like children.

Read more from Kathleen Parker’s archive, follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook.

Read more on this topic:

Christine Emba: Yes, guns do kill people. That’s what they’re for.

The Post’s View: Don’t be scared by NRA hysteria. Be scared Congress will do nothing.

Dana Milbank: No wonder Wayne LaPierre is freaking out

The Post’s View: Are you serious about gun control, Mr. Trump? Prove it.

Eugene Robinson: Trump and the GOP won’t act on gun control. So let’s kick them out.