The New York Times on Saturday ran an editorial on its front page urging lawmakers to tighten gun control regulations, the first time the newspaper has published an editorial on Page 1 since 1920.
The Times’ editorial board describes as a “moral outrage” and “national disgrace” that under Constitutional protections Americans are legally permitted to purchase deadly weapons that “kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.”
Think about everything that has happened in America and the world since the NYT’s last front-page editorial: the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II, the rise of nuclear weapons, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, the two Iraq wars, and 9/11 — which struck New York City worst of all! None of that merited a front-page editorial. But gun control does.
Third, while I have no doubt the authors are sincere in their desire to mount a national movement against guns (I also have no doubt they’ll fail), it is impossible to read this as anything other than an attempt to change the subject in the face of all the facts we learned today. These include, off the top of my head:
- This was a terrorist attack, the most deadly since 9/11.
- The killers were inspired by ISIS, a group the president has insisted is “contained” and only last week said posed no threat to the homeland.
- No remotely plausible gun-control reforms would have prevented the Farooks from killing people.
- The immigrant screening process let Jihadi murderer, Malik Tafsheen, into the United States despite the fact she gave a fake address. This happened at a moment when the president — and the New York Times – have insisted time and again that concerns about Syrian refugees amount to little more than xenophobia and know-nothingism.
The Times‘s editorial response (the front-page placement, not the editorial itself, which is conventional Times-think) is so over-the-top, so unwarranted by the actual facts, that it is most plausibly interpreted in terms of psychology. It tells us little to nothing about gun politics in America, and nearly everything about the mindset of the New York Times editorial board. So, have at it, readers. What does the Times‘s editorial really say? Goldberg says it’s an attempt to divert the public’s attention from facts inconvenient to the newspaper’s preferred narrative. I think that if this is true, it’s not a conscious attempt, but rather a deep emotional impulse — which is itself pretty interesting to contemplate.