July 15, 2015
SGN contributor Clayton Cramer has a blog, and if you don't follow it, you're missing out. Cramer is a Second Amendment scholar whose work has been quoted in Supreme Court decisions, but his commentary covers much more of contemporary life than just gun issues.
He discovered this interview with a prominent Yale professor who had some disturbing things to say about today's generation of students.
"My students today are much less obnoxious. Much more likable than I and my friends used to be, but they are so ignorant that it's hard to accept how ignorant they are. You tell yourself stories; it's very hard to grasp that the person you're talking to, who is bright, articulate, advisable, interested and doesn't know who Beethoven is. Had no view looking back at the history of the 20th century and just sees a fog. A blank. Has the vaguest idea of who Winston Churchill was or why he mattered. And maybe has no image of Teddy Roosevelt, let's say, at all. I mean, these are people who we have failed."
No kidding! We are speaking here of Ivy Leaguers, not some community college strivers in Dubuque.
"They know nothing about art. They know nothing about history. They know nothing about philosophy. And because they have been raised as not even atheists, they don't rise to the level of atheists, insofar as they've never thought about the existence or nonexistence of God. It has never occurred to them. They know nothing about the Bible. They've never opened it. They've been taught it's some sort of weird toxic thing, especially the Hebrew Bible, full of all sorts of terrible, murderous, prejudiced, bigoted. They've never read it. They have no concept."
If you broaden your web reading to sites like Gawker or Huffington Post that are frequented by young urbanites, there's nothing surprising about this at all. Those in their 20s have been pumped full of race and gender theory to the point that basic knowledge like when the Civil War happened or who won World War II is pushed out.
This is a tragedy for our nation in general, but what are its implications for gun rights?
If you are of the Baby Boom generation or older, you grew up with an acute awareness of totalitarianism and why it was bad. My father and his friends and coworkers were veterans of World War II, some of them survivors of the Bataan Death March. I can remember being sent home from school during the Cuban Missile Crisis. There was never any doubt that there were people in the world who'd be happy to enslave you or even roast you alive with an H-bomb.
Those under 30 or so have no memory of the Soviet Union, and as we heard from the Yale professor, only the dimmest recollection of the Third Reich. The older generation's instinctive understanding of tyranny is just not in them; after all, the only threat they've faced is terrorism. If anything, they've been propagandized that America is the world's bully.
At the same time, they've been fed the lie that only centralized state power can right the innumerable wrongs of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia and isms and phobias yet to be discovered.
How do we reach people like that? They seem unafraid of tyranny, foreign or domestic. They won't be moved by appeals to Auschwitz or the gulag. The decidedly mixed results of ousting the likes of Gadhafi and Hussein have made them skeptical of trumpet calls against dictatorship.
They do, however, seem to value privacy and personal autonomy. Younger people are concerned about NSA snooping into their electronic devices. When it comes to sex and drugs, they're libertarians, for sure.
So how do we appeal to this cohort, which soon will be the largest in American society? We're going to have to refine the message. References to history, regardless how germane, are not going to get it done. We have to offer reasons why the right to bear arms is important now and in the future. It is. We just have to find the right way to say why.