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Horray for Dancing in the Blood

Lindsey Berenstein on why we shouldn’t silence our political opinions when a mass killing occurs:

Remember the intense pressure to avoid “politicizing” 9/11? I’m talking about the taboo against criticizing the president that went virtually unchallenged in the mainstream media for years after the attacks. The real effect of the taboo was not to keep our reactions to the tragedy pure. When we shut down serious discussion and debate, we ceded interpretation of our history to the Bush administration. We let them own it. Those who wanted to keep the reaction to 9/11 “above” politics ensured the ultimate politicization of the event. If we had challenged the president from the beginning, he might not have been able to use 9/11 to goad us into war.

The administration loves to shield itself from criticism by accusing its opponents of “politicizing” some gaffe or scandal, or “exploiting” some monumental failure for political gain. It seems like a lot of Americans, liberal and conservative, are still taking their cues from Bush in this regard.

When a gunman shoots 33 people, it’s only natural for the human mind to turn to larger questions, such as, “Are guns in school a good idea?” or, “Can we solve this problem with more guns?”

The gun lobby knows how this game is played. The Second Amendment foundation accused gun control advocates of dancing in the blood of the victims. That was a bad faith attempt to shut down legitimate discussion by shaming their critics. Of course, they do this every time there’s a gun-related tragedy. Every time we defer to them, we miss an opportunity for a national conversation about guns, and so, the status quo is perpetuated indefinitely by bullying rather than real consensus.

Mass Yglesias argues for something similar .

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