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...And more...

These are mosttly just thoughts I'm trying to organize for my own purposes, but I'm not doing a cut, because I would be happy if any of you fine folks wanted to offer some input.

How do we reach Christians who fear that their way of life is at stake? There may be literally millions of people who believe that Kerry would have outlawed the bible. They've been lied to, and we know that. But they're not going to trust us when we tell them.

Can we close the "gun gap"? By which I mean, can we moderate the most rabidly anti-gun segment of the progressive movement, and try to find common ground on this issue? I believe we will never win over working class rural voters unless we can. And I've seen progressives turn sharply right just because they enjoy shooting, and felt unwanted by liberals because of it.

Where do we learn to spread virulent memes like the bad guys do? "Kerry is a flip-flopper." "Kerry is the most liberal member of the Senate." We never nail them with sticky tags like that. Should we? Do we lose our souls if we do? Can we win if we don’t?


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 4th, 2004 06:21 pm (UTC)
some thoughts back at ya
There are plenty of progressive Christians. I was raised by one. I'm not sure how the athiest/agnostic/pagan left can best support and encourage them but we need to figure it out. (Keeping a lid on blanket anti-Christian bashing would be a start...not that I'm accusing you of such.)

My brother and I have been joking about starting a progressive version of the NRA for years. Maybe we really should?

I think we do OK with spreading nicknames and slurs (MONKEY!) but our side always wants a little meat (soy?) with the gravy. But when you base your life on faith, anything that props up that faith even a little bit becomes instantly True.
Nov. 4th, 2004 07:16 pm (UTC)
Re: some thoughts back at ya
I have indeed seen a good bit of anti-Christian bashing online (you get a lot of that at Metafilter, I'm ashamed to say.) But it's the same sort of tiny but vocal group of haters that made feminism look bad with the inane male-bashing. A disaffected collection of numb-skulls with nobody's best interest at heart. How do you shut people like that up? They don't care what's good for their own causes, or anybody else's.

Re: a progressive version of the NRA: Eric and I were talking about something like that last night. We thought about making it a commercial venture to start (gun shop or range) but advertise that we give a percentage of proceeds to progressive causes. Teach women's self-defense classes, gun safety classes to older children, throw vegetarian-friendly potlucks (but bring your venison stew, if you've got it.) Seriously considering this... And if anyone wants to offer useful suggestions, that's great, but you're not welcome to tell me here why "that'll never work."
Nov. 4th, 2004 08:10 pm (UTC)
Re: some thoughts back at ya
I think a website/newsletter would reach a lot more people than a retail store. Maybe have a forum where people could organize shooting matches or hunting trips with like-minded people.

Nov. 4th, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC)
Take a look at quinnclub's post here. I think he is making some inroads on this.

And I think the "gun gap" had nothing to do with this election - Kerry's not exactly anti-gun.
Nov. 4th, 2004 07:11 pm (UTC)
DJ makes some very good points, but I would still like to caution against underestimating the gun issue. Here's why...

I've been an NRA life member since 1994, and have been getting their magazine every month since then. Having started out as a simple shooting club in 1871, then later became a single-issue advocacy organization for gun owners, the NRA is now a solidly partisan group. Their rhetoric has become increasingly heated, and their membership has largely come to view the acceptance or rejection of firearms as a defining cultural indicator.

Kerry had an 'F' rating from NRA for his views on gun control, and their publications did everything possible to throw the election to Bush, including an interview with the president which appeared in the October issue. Images of Kerry were photoshopped to look sinister and shadowy, and terms like 'nightmare' and 'police state' were used to describe what a Kerry presidency would be like for gun owners.

Many shooters have come to feel that the liberal view of the future does not include them. They feel that liberals see them as dumb brutes at best, ticking timebombs of rage at worst. The trouble with this impression they have, is that they are too often correct. Our need for a progressive shooting organization is not about luring shooters away from the NRA - it's about waking progressives up to the reality of firearms' place in american culture.

People own guns and practice shooting for a wide variety of reasons. There is nothing inherently violent about owning and/or operating a firearm. Context is everything. There is nothing about owning a gun that makes a person less likely to value economic stability, or women's rights, or gay marriage, or international diplomacy. But that is how a huge chunk of the left has come to view gun owners, and that has to change. America has millions upon millions of guns in private hands, and if liberal progressives are unwilling to meet the owners of those guns halfway, they will find themselves increasingly marginalized in elections to come.

I think we can do this. Seeing the other guy's side has always been our greatest strength...

... and if it still doesn't work out, at least we'll be armed. ;)
Nov. 4th, 2004 07:30 pm (UTC)
Right! so our task is two-fold. First, we have to educate our fellow liberals about gun ownership. We have to find a way to reshape how the left sees us. I'm a vegetarian. My Dad is a Buddhist. But shooting guns is fun when it's done responsibly, and having the right to own them is *still* crucial to our continued existence as a free people.

Then we need to start showing other gun owners that liberals are not out to sabotage their way of life (see also Re: Christianity). I am under no illusion that this can be done quickly or with ease, but I don think that it *must* be done, and there's no time like the present.

Honey, I think Linda and Xian are at the top of out list to call about this.
Nov. 4th, 2004 07:20 pm (UTC)
See, I don't think it matters that Kerry appears relatively pro-gun. In the minds of many middle Americans, guns=freedom, democrats=no guns, Kerry is a Democrat, and there you go. These are people who've been sold the whole bill of goods that goes with NRA membership (and Eric'll tell you how unfortunate that is, as a lifetime NRA member).

I don't think nurturing a progressive pro-gun movement would have an immediate effect, but in the long run it could win back over some of the working class who once were Dems on labor and social program grounds, but turned into Republicans mostly because they're afraid their guns will be taken away.
Nov. 6th, 2004 03:59 am (UTC)
Hey, hon. OK, here's what E and I are talking about regarding the "gun gap" and this election:


We found this link in his American Rifleman magazine (NRA newsletter, essentially). That actual layout in the print zine is far more damning. It's a mistake to underestimate how much this impacted the decisions of middle Americans, or the significance of the importance of this issue. I think.

Nov. 4th, 2004 06:58 pm (UTC)
spreading hate and ugliness is never the way to go. being consistent, however, is.

i like the idea of moderating the anti-gun people. while i absolutely feel that guns should be well-regulated, i'm pretty well convinced that something many americans hold near & dear is our right to bear arms. there needs to be more compromise on the left.

as for reaching christians... i don't know what to tell you. i think encouraging discussion is the first step, and -- as i said above -- being consistent. being consistently moderate might even be better. in terms of ideals, i'm pretty left. in terms of reality, however, i'm a moderate. emphasizing common ground is a good start.
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