As you all know by now, one the ways that I put gruel on our table and keep the wolf from our door is to work as a copy editor of English translations for Dispatch International.
Last week I had to grit my teeth while I edited an article that compared the controversy in Sweden about immigration with the fight over gun control in the United States. It was a typical European perspective on guns in the USA — faithfully reflecting the talking points aired on most American MSM outlets — and it was all I could do to keep from inserting my own editorial comments as I cleaned up punctuation and adjusted the phrasing in the original.
I wrote a protest email to Lars Hedegaard and Ingrid Carlqvist, the chief editors of DI, and they published it today on the paper’s website. The text is below, with a title and subhead added by the editors. The original article is behind a subscription paywall, but you can get the gist from the paragraphs I quote near the beginning of my riposte.
Cheap shots at Second Amendment
by Ned May
Björn Norström should do his homework before targeting American gun owners
As an American and a conservative, I must take exception to a translated opinion piece published in your most recent issue. It is entitled “When lobbyists, lies and feelings guide policies”, and was written by Björn Norström.
Mr. Norström posits an analogy between the gun control debate in the United States and the immigration debate in Sweden. I’m not qualified to judge the Swedish half of this comparison, but much of the American portion is quite simply wrong, and sometimes farcically so.
I recognize that the author was writing an opinion piece, and I have no issue with the parts of the essay that might be considered “opinion”. People are entitled to their opinions. But other parts of the article verged perilously close to asserted “fact”, and are in error.
Mr. Norström talks about the push in the USA for what he describes as “more responsible gun control”, saying in part:
It took a tragedy for politicians and ordinary people to begin debating stricter gun regulation, a debate long considered the sacred cow of American politics — a topic left aside by all.
There are three key reasons for this:
The first being that the American weapons lobby, led by its main sponsor National Rifle Association, NRA, has a lot of money due to its many members. This enables them to spend huge resources on advertising and influencing politicians. …
The second reason is that pro-weapon spokesmen grossly misinform the general public, again by using the media. They lie to the people about proposed legislation in order to influence a badly read and uninformed public.
The third reason has to do with emotion. Weapons enthusiasts refer to the so-called Second Amendment of the American Constitution, which grants the right to bear arms, and is almost illegal to discuss or question. …
In the US, one is considered unpatriotic if one questions the right to bear arms, in Sweden one is considered a racist if one questions immigration.
The author has no feeling whatsoever for the gun debate in the United States. It’s obvious that he derived all his information ultimately from American MSM sources, and not from ordinary American people.
Take, for example, the notion that the media are manipulated by the NRA to mould public sentiment against gun control. This is so obviously false that all but the most ardent left-wing American progressive would laugh the author into oblivion. The idea that the “gun lobby” controls the argument in the media is ludicrous — the opposite is true!
The media do everything they can to demonize gun owners. Just look at the political cartoons that appeared after the Newtown massacre — at least nineteen out of twenty contrived to make gun owners and the NRA look stupid, violent, racist, evil, cynical, and greedy. Check the cartoon archives on the internet, and you’ll see what I mean.
It’s possible that the NRA and other pro-gun lobbyists “lie to the people about proposed legislation”, but any mendacity on their part is utterly eclipsed by the lies retailed by the supporters of the new laws, including members of Congress and officials in the Obama administration. Their untruths are too numerous to list here, but one might begin by researching the obfuscation around the use of the term “assault weapon” — which turns out to apply to many of the most popular guns that Americans choose to buy.
Then there is the notion that Americans are restrained from voicing their opinions in favor of gun control out of fear that they may be called “unpatriotic”. This is nonsense! The average American simply is patriotic, and is also in favor of the Second Amendment permitting Americans to own and bear arms. He is instinctively resistant to the idea that the government should control his access to firearms.
The sole opinion poll that showed Americans favoring more gun control was contrived, as are most opinion polls, to achieve exactly the result desired.
A more accurate opinion poll is being carried out every day in gun shops and sporting goods stores across the country: people by the millions are choosing to purchase guns. They do this not because they want to murder schoolchildren or gun down shoppers at the mall, but because they do not trust their government, and suspect that it wishes to disarm them in order to impose tyranny.
The truth is this: gun control gains no traction among ordinary Americans because — despite relentless anti-gun propaganda put out by the newspapers and TV — it is not what ordinary Americans want. The NRA is powerful (and well-funded) because it reflects the views of millions of ordinary American citizens, who voluntarily send it their money, and like much of what it does on their behalf. I say this, even though I am not a member myself.
One other thing: To refer to the “so-called Second Amendment” is deeply offensive to the average American. It displays the unthinking, knee-jerk, condescending self-righteousness for which Europeans — especially Scandinavians — are justly famous on this side of the Atlantic. In my work with Europeans over the years, I have grown used to this patronizing treatment of Americans and American culture, but it still saddens me to encounter yet another example of it — and in Dispatch International, of all places!
The Second Amendment forms the bedrock of the American republic. It has been an important and popular part of American culture since the Bill of Rights was first ratified more than two centuries ago. Without it the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of the press and of religion would be no more than a worthless piece of paper, which could be ignored with impunity by any tyrant who happened to gain power.
Those who fail to understand that important fact have no hope of understanding the United States, or the American character.
Dispatch International has earned a justified reputation as a fearless alternative source of information that the mainstream media refuse to publish. It’s a shame that one of your writers was unable to outgrow the version of the United States that the Swedish MSM — relying, of course, on their American counterparts — have been indoctrinating their audience with since at least the 1960s.
There is another America out there — the real America, the one I live in — but you won’t learn about it via the legacy media. In order to perform due diligence, the author needs to research his topic using other sources.