PAUL KRUGMAN: Nasty, Brutish and Trump
Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 -- After listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting -- while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases -- Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers. It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn't even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity.Posted — Updated
It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.
Still, Trump’s horrible idea, taken straight from the NRA playbook, was deeply revealing — and the revelation goes beyond issues of gun control. What’s going on in America right now isn’t just a culture war. It is, on the part of much of today’s right, a war on the very concept of community, of a society that uses the institution we call government to offer certain basic protections to all its members.
Before I get there, let me remind you of the obvious: We know very well how to limit gun violence, and arming civilians isn’t part of the answer.
No other advanced nation experiences frequent massacres the way we do. Why? Because they impose background checks for prospective gun owners, limit the prevalence of guns in general and ban assault weapons that allow a killer to shoot dozens of people before he (it’s always a he) can be taken down. And yes, these regulations work.
Meanwhile, anyone who imagines that amateurs packing heat can be counted on to save everyone from a crazed killer with a semi-automatic weapon — as opposed to shooting one another or third parties in the confusion — has seen too many bad action movies.
But as I said, this isn’t just about guns. To see why, consider the very case often used to illustrate how bizarrely we treat guns: how we treat car ownership and operation.
What I’d argue is that our lethal inaction on guns, but also on cars, reflects the same spirit that’s causing us to neglect infrastructure and privatize prisons, the spirit that wants to dismantle public education and turn Medicare into a voucher system rather than a guarantee of essential care. For whatever reason, there’s a faction in our country that sees public action for the public good, no matter how justified, as part of a conspiracy to destroy our freedom.
Anyway, this political faction is doing all it can to push us toward becoming a society in which individuals can’t count on the community to provide them with even the most basic guarantees of security — security from crazed gunmen, security from drunken drivers, security from exorbitant medical bills (which every other advanced country treats as a right, and does in fact manage to provide).
Yep, that sounds like Trump’s America.
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