Last time, I mentioned how Sean Hannity had been complaining in his radio show about how "liberals" were politicizing the Virgina Tech shooting. His sole example was something Rosie O'Donnell said on The View. Since then, conservative pundits have blamed the shooting on gun control, atheism, secularism, "Paki" Muslims, gays, universities "coddling" students, video games, and even vaccines. Yet, somehow, this is all the liberals fault. I've been wanting to write about what one conservative said about the massacre for a while, but every time I think about it, it just makes me so damn mad, so I've put it off.
The fact is, I haven't really heard much from liberals about the causes of this shooting. A discussion of gun control vs. concealed-carry-type laws might even be reasonable at this point. (Frankly, I think both arguments are flawed, but that's neither here nor there.) The outcry about the underlying causes, usually having to do with some value or another not being sufficiently important in modern America, seems to be coming mainly from the Right.
The worse of these was John Derbyshire, writing this in National Review Online:
Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.
The level of insensitivity in this is just stunning. Derbyshire wrote this on April 17th, the very day after the shooting. He wrote it with perfect hindsight, complete knowledge of what had happened that day at the school, and probably a nice hot cup of coffee next to his laptop.
I've been in a lot of university engineering classes. How to disarm an gunman with hand-to-hand combat was not something we covered. Nor did we ever discuss how to tell a Walther P22 from a Glock 19. We didn't even discuss how to tell if the Glock was using the standard 15-round magazine, or if it was using one of the optional 15-, 17-, or 33- round magazines, all while a crazed gunman was shooting at you through a crowd of people. Maybe this explains why I'm not an employee of National Review Online. Hell I'm probably one of those wimps that would actually be upset by the fact that I'd just been shot with one of those lousy .22 caliber bullets.
Oh, but it gets worse. The next day, Mark Steyn blogged in National Review Online, saying this about the victims:
They’re not "children." The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men.
You see, the reason these college students were killed was the fact that they just weren't masculine enough. Had this happened in the 1950s, I suppose, the gunman would have quickly been tackled by muscled, football-playing, corn-fed, Midwestern men. But these students? Pussies, every one of them.
He also makes a cheap shot referencing Monica Lewinsky. For conservatives, everything is about the Clenis.
This Republican fixation on masculinity isn't anything new. It's the standard fare of those that tell us we live in a society with crumbling morals, depraved values, and the wrong kinds of religion. If we just buy their current book, it will tell us all about what's wrong with the country.
Just a few weeks ago, Glenn Greenwald wrote about something very similar in "The right-wing cult of contrived masculinity":
[The conservative movement] is a cult of contrived masculinity whereby people dress up as male archtypes like cowboys, ranchers, and tough guys even though they are nothing of the kind -- or prance around as Churchillian warriors because they write from a safe and protected distance about how great war is -- and in the process become triumphant heroes and masculine powerful icons and strong leaders. They and their followers triumph over the weak, effete, humiliated Enemy, and thereby become powerful and exceptional and safe.
This really is no different from how Derbyshire wrote about how much more of a hero he would have been in the Virginia Tech situation, had he been there.