Scooping Up Right-wing Poop on Newtown

Corey Robin has a superb response, within which are yet more superb responses, to some of the dog shit commentary about gun violence that conservatives have been passing off as helpful suggestions.

In the wake of the Newtown killings, writers on the right have suggested we should teach children to turn on their assailants, rushing them en masse. Here’s Megan McArdle writing in The Daily Beast:

I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.

McArdle is a libertarian. You know, the type who believes you can’t derive Rawlsian-style social justice from self-interested premises—that shit would never work—but that you can adduce from those very same premises a mass death instinct of the sort that powered the Red Army to victory against the Nazis. When it comes to public goods, libertarians think we’re all free riders; in the face of crazed killers, we’re all comrades.

And here’s Charlotte Allen—about whom the less said, the better—writing in National Review Online:

There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K–6 school), all the personnel—the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the “reading specialist”—were female. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers. The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, seemed to have performed bravely. According to reports, she activated the school’s public-address system and also lunged at Lanza, before he shot her to death. Some of the teachers managed to save all or some of theiri charges by rushing them into closets or bathrooms. But in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.

As Amy Davidson of the New Yorker observed in response:

One image that comes to mind is the soldiers sent to die in outmoded frontal assaults against machine-gun embankments in the First World War….

As the mother of a twelve-year-old who might be described as husky, or at least big for his age, I do teach him that he has an extra responsibility to, for example, stand up for littler kids who are bullied—to never be a bystander. But I greatly resent the idea that he should throw himself in front of a bullet because a grown congressman isn’t brave enough to throw an N.R.A. lobbyist out of his office.

The World War I reference is apt. There is something bloodcurdling about grownups speaking so blithely about sending children off to their deaths. As if these kids don’t have a future of their own, as if they are all to be sacrificed on the altar of whatever K Street Moloch the right happens to be worshiping at this particular hour.

David Wagner includes McArdle and Allen in his “ 50 Worst Columns of 2012” roundup at The Atlantic Wire.

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Kathy Kattenburg

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • McArdle has clearly, never taught kindergarten/1st grade. I have, and can tell you that 8-12 kids that age couldn’t tackle me … even without a gun or two. And i’m by no means a large man. In fact, i can recall having six kindergarten children hanging off just my arms and was able to lift them all off the ground.

    • I worked as a librarian, k-12, and Lex is totally correct, but I would extend his reservations to include the 10-12 year old kids. I wouldn’t put much faith in the prowess of the middle school students either. McArdle has no idea what kids are like.

      Allen doesn’t have any idea of what teachers are like either. I have know very few teachers who could ever be guilty of “helpless passivity” in any circumstances. At least, in my urban school anyone with a tendency toward passivity found another line of work quickly.

  • Not that this excuses the particular columns that this piece pokes fun at but….

    “Rush the shooter….” isn’t made up out of thin air. It’s life-saving advice. It is probably not good advice to give to little kids. It is excellent advice for the rest of us.

    “Rush the shooter” gets taught to adults in preparedness classes about how to respond to active shooters. When out of options, rushing the shooter is a decent idea — especially if it can be done during re-loading. It can work and in reality it is sometimes the only thing left that can work.

    Here is an alternative that DOES NOT work but that has happened: everyone freezes and tries to cower or play dead while the shooter systematically kills every one of them. People are taught to “rush the shooter” to resist that outcome.

    Preparedness training also includes teaching people how to recognize the signs that a shooter is reloading or that his gun has jammed. That’s the best time to rush the shooter.

    If you ask me, the main problem with the suggestion of teaching this to little kids is that it is too nuanced. “Rush the shooter” comes after options like run away, sneak away, take real cover and hide, barricade against, etc.

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