The Democrats’ House gun-control sit-in was a failure and was always destined to be a failure from the standpoint of actually moving any gun control legislation. No bill, no break? Not really. Paul Ryan ended the current congressional session, and eventually everyone just filtered out.
But maybe it was a success after all, just at a different goal.
Partly it helped the Democrats invert the symbols and pageantry of the “liberal” mythology, as well as the very meaning of the civil rights movement, from “demanding freedom for yourself” to “taking freedom away from others.”
But that’s a long-term process of which this is just one small part. The sit-in also achieved a more concrete and immediate goal: We spent all last week talking about gun control, and its pros and cons, instead of talking about terrorism.
So the sit-in delivered something important for the Democrats, after all.
The Justice Department initially tried to hide the Orlando shooter’s invocations of radical Islam by purging them from the transcripts of his call to police. In a textbook example of the Streisand Effect, this only brought more attention to the issue. But then the sit-in came to the rescue and diverted our attention again. It succeeded, at least for a little while, in getting us to take the Orlando shooting and re-file it in our minds under the heading of “mass shootings” and therefore under the wider file of “domestic gun-control debate.” And we have forgotten that the shooter, Omar Mateen, pledged loyalty to ISIS.
In fact, as time goes on, it becomes less clear that there ever was any other motive to muddy the issue. Several reports indicate that the FBI investigation has failed to corroborate claims that Mateen committed the shooting because he was a self-loathing gay man. The two motives are not necessarily exclusive; martyrdom for Islam could have been his way of trying to cancel out his “sin.” But if the gay motive is evaporating, that leaves only radical Islam.
Yet we’ve already been diverted. Not only have we forgotten that the Orlando attack was Islamic terrorism. We’re not thinking about it enough to realize that this is precisely the form Islamic terrorism now takes. The Sydney Siege in 2014 was our warning, and the Paris attacks last year—both of them—along with Garland, San Bernardino, and others, confirms that these are the new ISIS rules for attacks on the West: many smaller attacks by ISIS-inspired loners with local citizenship, rather than one big attack by foreign plotters.
The thing that really makes this the perfect terrorist strategy is that our current leaders are dead set on pretending it isn’t happening. They will always find some other excuse: an Internet video, provocative cartoons, “workplace violence,” or “homophobia.” And rather than fight back against the Islamists, they’ll respond by trying to take away our own freedoms.
You can see the incentive for this pretense. Acknowledging that the Orlando attack was about radical Islam and not just hatred of homosexuals would create pressure to think about more aggressive counter-terrorism measures and to examine the failure of FBI to realize Mateen was a threat despite more than one tip-off. And if this attack, like the others, was inspired by the successful example of ISIS, then the pressure should be on to actually do something to defeat ISIS—instead of our current policy, which is to act as if Syria is somebody else’s problem.
Ah, but politicians only want to see the problems that require their preordained solutions. For the current administration, that prepackaged agenda includes disarming the American people and cringing in apology for America once having asserted its interests somewhere in the world. So they try to get us to live inside their delusion and see “workplace violence” and “homophobia” where there is actually radical Islam.
That’s the delusion House Democrats acted out in last week’s sit-in, and their success was that they got so many people to agree to live with them in that alternative universe.