I do not intend this as an argument for or against the gun legislation that was proposed and that failed in the wake of Columbine. It is merely a case for sobriety in assessing the issues that make up the dispute. The gun legislation in question may have been worthy or not. The point is that any difference it might make is so insignificant that it could not justify the foam-at-the-mouth response of its proponents or the stigma they have attached to people, like Heston, who disagree with them about it.
Why are liberals so hypocritically bigoted? It’s not a question that can be casually dismissed. After all, the conservatives who would shun a Barbra Streisand make no fetish out of “diversity” the way liberals do, nor do they wave the bloody flag of past witch-hunts whenever they come under attack, as liberals are known to do as well.
Moreover, the little auto-da-fi over the possibility that Chuck Heston would materialize at a charity event is no aberrant case. George Stephanopoulos’ recent memoir captures a parallel moment at the very center of the political process. Before impeachment irretrievably embittered the atmosphere of the Clinton White House, Stephanopoulos and the president were discussing an open congressional seat and the prospect of an upcoming special election. “It’s Nazi time,” Clinton remarked to Stephanopoulos, meaning time to get back to campaigning against Republicans.
Two years later, at the outset of another campaign, Clinton told Dick Morris, “You have to understand, Bob Dole is evil, what he wants is evil.” This of a war hero who had played the role of consensus builder in his years as Senate majority leader.
Nor is Clinton alone in his rabid hatred of the Republican opposition. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., publicly referred to House Republicans as “Nazis” merely for proposing to keep the expansion of Medicare within the rate of inflation lest the whole system go bankrupt, as a presidential commission indicated it would.
Other Democrats, like Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., referred to Republicans as racist for similar disagreements on budgetary allocations. As in the case of gun control legislation, there is no perceivable connection between the offenses and the demonization of the offenders by liberals.
Outside the KKK-Farrakhan hate fringe (which embraces bigots on the left and right), there is no conservative analog to this liberal paranoia. Perhaps there is a Republican officeholder who every now and then enters the electoral cycle with the war cry “It’s commie time,” but I certainly haven’t met him. The current Clinton security leaks are grave enough to have generated a hundred Joe McCarthys, but not one has yet appeared.
There is simply no analog to the liberal passion of conservative bashing that has unfairly stained the reputations of figures as disparate as Bork, Thomas, Gingrich, Barr, Connerly and now DeLay. Conservatives have not even laid a glove on such obvious targets as Barney Frank and Maxine Waters. They tend to think of their opponents as irresponsible or simply misguided. But they do not treat them as agents of the devil.
But then Republicans are political amateurs. They typically leave a business in the business sector to go fight City Hall over practical matters. They want to restrain the leviathan that is suffocating enterprise. Or, less nobly, they want to harness it to some self-interested goal.
Liberals have a grander design. Their interest in politics is missionary. They see government as a means to social redemption, to change the world. They’re not there to tinker with gun control laws. They’re there, asHillary Rodham Clinton put it, “to define what it means to be human in the 21st century.” In the nightmares of NRA supporters, this means to do whatever it takes and to trample over any rights necessary to remove all 240 million guns from public possession in the quest for a utopia where violence no longer exists.
The reason liberals are so bigoted lies in a vision that has ancestral roots in the Puritan origins of the American new world. They see themselves as soldiers in the army of the saints — a vision incomplete without the counter-army of Satan, the dark adversary corrupting the innocent and blocking their progress. People like Charlton Heston stand in the way of their impossible dream. In the fantasies of these liberal Lenins, all the little dead children killed in drive-bys across America could be walking the safe streets of the ‘hood if only the Chuck Hestons of this world would disappear.