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Fighting to not lose

April 14, 2018

Old NFO shared this on his blog. Now, I know that language changes. I also know that the definitions of words are based upon usage and that is what dictionaries reflect rather than dictionaries assigning meaning. Still, the decision by Merriam-Webster to include a worthless definition of “assault rifle” has me concerned, though probably not for the reasons many might think.

I have written before about my tendency to not believe in conspiracies. That has not changed with the decision by Merriam-Webster to add an additional definition of assault rifle to their dictionary. My concern is that two things have arguably happened.

First, those of us who know what an assault rifle is may have been guilty of doing the thing of which we often accuse gun control advocates (GCAs). We often tell them they believe the things they do largely because they live in an echo chamber. There can be some truth to that. It is hard to even seriously consider another point of view if surrounded solely or primarily by those who think the way you do. I suspect we have been in our own echo chamber. We knew what an assault rifle was, so we corrected the misapplication of the term when we encountered it. We complained/joked to each other about the ignorance of so many GCAs. We were confident of both our knowledge and the rightness of our cause. And we never saw how quickly the deliberate conflation of terms was gaining traction in the general population.

Yes, it was and remains a dishonest argument from GCAs. Yes, it was a conflation of terms and features. Yes, it was deliberate. Yes, it points to the character (or lack thereof) of many GCAs. And we have no one to blame for their success in this but ourselves.

Which brings me to my second concern. But first, a story

It is said that one of Michael Jordan’s struggles with moving to coaching and team ownership was his view of how his post Chicago Bulls team’s played. The word is that in his view they did not play to win. Instead, they played to not lose. That, I submit, largely describes how many of us who, even unapologetically, support the right to keep and bear arms (I do not like the term “gun rights” as inanimate objects have no rights, but for brevity, those who support the right to keep and bear arms will be referred to as GRAs) have “played the game.” We just wanted to get through the current push to further restrict a fundamental liberty and then move on. In some ways that makes sense. From my perspective, many GRAs, while valuing their Second Amendment rights, want to get back to their lives, not viewing the battle over the right to keep and bear arms as a central part of their lives. We are often focused on things like our work, careers and family. Liberty is important, but the battle for it sometimes seems to be an afterthought. If we can just not lose this time, that’s good enough.

No, it is not good enough and if we continue down this path we will lose and we will lose far more than a battle over the definition of a term.

The other part of playing to not lose is the tendency to see each battle as unconnected to the ones that have preceded it and the battles that will follow. Let me be clear. Though there is (and hopefully, Dear God, never will be) any shooting involved, this is not simply a series of battles. It is a war and not simply a war between GCAs and GRAs. At its heart, it is not even a war over the right to keep and bear arms. It is a war of ideas, a war of philosophies and a war of cultures. It is a war over liberty. It is in a very real sense a war for the heart and soul of a nation. In such a war, we cannot fight purely defensively, only responding to an attack and then going back to our lives, leaving a few to “keep an eye on things” and hopefully rouse us from our comfortable slumber in time and numbers to successfully resist the next attack.

We must go, and remain, on the offensive.

How do we do that? How do you do it? How do I?

If you are able to argue statistics effectively and honestly, perhaps you are the person to respond to arguments based on numbers. If discussions of the philosophy of liberty is your forte, then do that. If you are a modern-day Samuel Adams, seeking your Thomas Gage, then apply yourself to the art (and it is an art) of taunting and mocking. All of us can vote. I recommend asking every person who requests your vote if they are willing to further reduce or restrict any constitutionally protected liberty. Be specific. Ask about each one of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. No one who is willing to further restrict any of them is worth your vote. Write. Call. Go on the offensive. Mock those who would sacrifice more of your liberty in the service of anything. The never-quite-realized guarantee of safety is not worth your liberty. It is trading your birthright for a bowl of porridge. Remember, the ancient story we have of that did not turn out well.

Our progressive opponents often understand this far better than we. They never stop. They never quit. Even when they lose a battle, they emerge determined to win the next battle and ultimately the war.

We must go on the offensive in this war of ideas, philosophies and cultures and we must win it, lest we be faced with no alternative but to do the other thing.

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