Monday, June 20, 2016

Terror Attack in Orlando Re-Exposes Great American Divide

From Salena Zito, at RCP:
SMITHTON, PA - Gunshots echoed across the mountains hugging the valley cut by the Youghiogheny River as anglers, boaters, bikers and day-hikers enjoyed the Great Allegheny Passage recreational area between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

A group of men in their mid-30s, dressed in biking shorts and jerseys, stood around a gazebo built for travelers on the 300-mile trail, discussing where to end their day. The gunfire horrified them — but not in a duck-we're-under-attack way. Their reactions ranged from ridicule to misunderstanding to disgust and concluded with an assumption that they were unsafe around “these people” and it was time to move along.

In truth, the shots came from a local sportsmen's club. Most people around here consider the club members to be among the region's premier conservators; they stock the river every spring, lead clean-up crews along the trail, keep the deer population contained with their hunting and donate venison to needy families who can live off the meat of one buck for more than a year.

Theirs is a tradition passed from father to son. They don't own AR-15s but will defend your right to do so — not because they think people should have semi-automatic weapons but because they see gun ownership as one of our freedoms that Main Street America is ceding to cosmopolitan elites.

On Monday, as the motives and the blame for the Orlando massacre were dissected by “experts” on CNN, a successful Pittsburgh businessman called, distressed by the media coverage.

“Why do they make me feel as though I am somehow to blame for this?” he asked.

He is white, middle-aged, a gun owner, a devout Catholic and, despite his success and widespread respect for his generosity, he felt he heard a “Shame on you!” message from President Obama on down.

Everyone, he said, appeared to blame the tragedy in Orlando on guns, bigots, racism and people whose religious beliefs do not support gay marriage (but likely could care less if someone is gay): “It was like a series of code-words aimed at Middle America.”

Obama, many Democrats and much of the political class always come across as not being on Main Street's side. It is a feeling that makes Americans feel frustrated, ostracized, unsafe. And it adds to that disconnect that pundits always bemoan yet perversely contribute to by piling on against the “otherness” of traditional American culture.

Obama inserted politics into his passionless initial reaction to the Orlando slaughter; a day later, passion emerged only when he attacked Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. In both instances, he blamed Republicans for not passing a semi-automatic weapons ban and a ban on weapons sales to suspected terrorists on the nation's no-fly list.

The last time I checked, Democrats controlled Congress and the presidency in 2009 and 2010 and they never allowed either of those measures to go to the House or Senate floor for a vote...
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