Because they are ours

I think that Obama's recent statements about poor people clinging to guns and God are being blown out of proportion. Certainly there's a sense in which oppressed people of any sort tend to fall back on tradition; firearms and religion are our traditions. But it's not that I think Obama is, on the whole, correct; it's just that he isn't out of line with the elite opinion of his class: the politicians. It's unfair to criticize him for speaking an opinion all his adversaries hold.

But it's not unfair to criticize him for having a contemptible, elite opinion that looks down on popular sovereignty, and John M├ędaille does an excellent job. Though I'm not Catholic or a member of any organized religion, I think those paths to God are certainly valid - they're not themselves good or bad (they are, however, human institutions which must be approached with the same discretion and self-knowledge that any important activity requires). And even if they weren't, I'd still defend the freedom of people to follow them.

But he absolutely nails the gun issue:

As for guns, we cling to them for another reason, a reason that his little to do with the arguments about the second amendment, arguments which few of us really understand, least of all myself. No, we cling to them precisely because the know-it-alls tell us not to. We live in an age when "experts" give us no end of good advice on subjects that are none of their business, and when each new day brings new headlines about what we should or should not be doing. Be it cholesterol or sex, God or guns, children or politics, there are endless experts to tell us what we are doing wrong. These professional naggers really have our best interests at heart, and the more so the more removed they are from us.

...

The real reason we cling to guns is that they are ours. And even more, they were our fathers. Ownership of guns is something that distinguished the New World from the Old. In the decadent aristocracies of Europe, guns were largely for the landowners, and "poaching" was punishable by flogging or worse. In the New World, every frontiersman had a gun, and it was an essential part of feeding his family and declaring his liberty. We no longer need to feed our families by hunting, but we still need to assert our liberty, and especially our liberty from the army of experts who claim to know what is best for us.

I hope he'll forgive the selective quote; the whole post is enlightened, but this was just such a great statement on an issue I hold dear. As for whether or not we're "bitter", come on: it's not just the white rural poor.

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Written on Sunday, April 20, 2008