Piers as Advocate

Peter Beinart:

Public relations–wise, the gun-control movement could hardly have a worse champion than CNN’s Piers Morgan. He’s haughty, he’s self-righteous, and, worst of all, he’s foreign. For the Second Amendment freaks who see Barack Obama as suspiciously un-American, his government as potentially tyrannical, and themselves as heirs to the gun toters who shot their way to liberty at Lexington and Concord, what better foil than a modern-day gun confiscator who actually is English. For years, American conservatives have been calling American liberals wannabe Europeans. Now, with America witnessing its nastiest culture-war skirmish since Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the man helping to lead the liberal charge really does hail from that socialist dystopia across the pond. No wonder more than 100,000 Americans have called for his deportation to the land of Neville Chamberlain and King George III.

And yet, when I watch Piers Morgan these days, I smile. It’s not because Morgan’s views on guns are correct, although I think they are. Or because his arguments are especially clever. What I love about Morgan is precisely what the gun enthusiasts hate: his foreignness. When American liberals discuss their fellow citizens’ love affair with guns, they often strain to show cultural sensitivity, either because they know it’s politically necessary or because they don’t want to sound like foreigners in their own land. Thus, they pledge fealty to the Second Amendment (even if they think it’s an absurd anachronism) and vow never to infringe on the rights of hunters (even if they consider shooting ducks both idiotic and gross). Not Morgan. When denouncing America’s gun culture, he generally sounds both astonished and appalled, like a missionary who has just been told that the natives he’s been sent to civilize periodically barbecue their wives….

I like the fact that, as an outsider, Morgan has not been desensitized to America’s gun mania in the way so many of us natives have. I like the fact that he thinks Americans can actually learn from the rest of the world. And most of all, I like the fact that Americans are getting to see, night after night on TV, what it’s like to be judged by the rest of the planet. It’s not fun, but we’d better get used to it.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • metanoia

    “Second amendment freaks…heirs to the gun toters…America’s gun mania…”etc. Beinart’s rhetoric is precisely the kind of approach that makes it difficult to have a civil conversation on the issue of gun rights. SMH

  • Tom j

    Unfortunately most of Piers arguments are false. He’ll say anything it takes to get attention. He doesn’t exactly have a history of spreading truth.

  • Mike M

    Ironic. The British are renowned for their own brutality to others. From the torture chambers of the Middle Ages, the oppression of colonialism (e.g. giving American Indians blankets infested with smallpox as “presents”), to their atrocities in India even as recently as 1947, no one from England has the right to say anyone else is doing things incorrectly. Oh yeah, let’s not forget Rhodesia and Uganda and the Last King of Scotland.

  • Mike M

    I would love to go to England and tell them what thay are doing wrong.

  • Dan Hayter

    Hmmm… I wonder if your comments may just be making Beinart’s point…

  • Jenny

    Sorry, guys, I live in a multinational expat community and I have to tell you that the sense of incredulity is shared by all those I have met from the developed world. Piers may be an arrogant so-and-so, but the guy above is right, his views are those of the civilized world who look on in pitying dismay at the American failure to see the obvious regarding guns. On this issue the US looks like a child spouting all sorts of nonsensical arguments in his refusal to accept what the grown-ups are saying.

  • Anne Bosworth

    Yes, and we all know that whatever the global community has to say about how we conduct life in the U.S. is word.

  • Stephen W

    Sorry for previous comment (now deleted). Must remember to count to 10 before hitting “post”…

  • ChrisB

    Piers Morgan may be an arrogant, self-righteous “pom” as we Aussies call the Brits, but he reflects the incredulity that most of us non-US citizens feel at the USA’s approach to guns. Notwithstanding several massacres and the appalling level of gun homicide in the USA, you keep going on about “constitutional rights” to bear arms, quoting an out of date section of your constitution that was formatted when no regular army or police force existed to protect the nation or its citizens, and which had no concept of modern weapons and their destructive power. Unfortunately, the US has become the exemplar par excellence of when individual rights trump the collective rights of the community to live in safety. No, the rest of us don’t live in a perfect society, but strong gun control measures make it a lot safer.

  • Jag

    Humanity has most always preferred to shoot the messenger rather than listen to a message we won’t want to hear.

  • Mike M

    And now he is going to deport himself?


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