Lately it seems the growing number of fashionable “anti-something” campaigns are more about attempting to establish that it is you who are the only one against the spotlighted subject matter. This has become very clear with things such as the anti-gun violence and anti-rape campaigns. Oh, congratulations! You’re against sexual assault and violence with a deadly weapon? 99.99% of us are, unless you’re the actual demented perpetrator(s). Unfortunately, speaking out against violence or rape in a logical, common sense manner can invite accusations of disconnect and actually being in support of those things.
Such is the case with the “Wear Orange” campaign for National Gun Violence Awareness Day which took place on June 2. The official campaign website quickly tips you off as to the real foundation of the movement. With partners such as Center for American Progress, Media Matters, and Moms Demand Action, one can hardly guess at the political leanings of this supposedly bipartisan crusade. Moms Demand Action vocally opposes the NRA, Media Matters is disgusted by the NRA’s supposed sexism, among other things, and the Center for American Progress placed the NRA in the center of the gun problem, and suggested they have begun “chipping away at the federal government’s ability to enforce the gun laws and protect the public from gun crime”. Besides being incorrect, it is highly unfortunate. It takes the blame from the actual criminals, and moves it elsewhere, as if the manufacturers/associations in the world of firearms are to blame for the bloodshed others decide to commit. But sure, the June 2nd campaign was for all Americans to stand up to gun violence, even though a quick perusal of #WearOrange dredges up gems denouncing gun owners and insinuating the 2nd Amendment – a freedom – needs an overhaul.
Anti-rape campaigns, complete with fresh hysteria, are in the same vein as anti-violence demonstrations. Again, I must point out (since some will wonder) that yes, we’re all against rape, except the ones who dare to commit something so horrible. However, even in an environment of fact-checking laziness which turns into a Rolling Stone apology, we’ve become a society that instantly accepts and never questions. Everything is anchored in feelings, not facts. This results in stylized retellings of uncorroborated stories, and more recently, performance art. The well-known mattress-carrying display from Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz was fawned over, although nothing came of the actual rape allegations. Nothing concrete needs to come to light, however, because the damage and claim of revolution had already been done. As New York Magazine stated:
By owning those accusations, and pointing a finger not only at assailants but also the American university, the ivory tower of privilege, these survivors have built the most effective, organized anti-rape movement since the late ’70s. Rape activists now don’t talk much about women’s self-care and protection like they did in the ’90s with Take Back the Night marches, self-defense classes, and cans of Mace. Today, the militant cry is aimed at the university: Kick the bastards out.
We should hardly be taken aback by these displays, though. Society’s recent focus is everywhere but where it needs to be. When someone is assaulted or killed, it’s natural to desire the responsible party be blamed. The campaign to attack the NRA is the complete opposite of a solution. In reacting to horrendous acts of violence at places such as Sandy Hook, too many have gone from course correction to complete control. This is the same in responding to sexual assault. Too many have begun bypassing the request for facts and investigation to make room for what is increasingly more important. Putting on a show.
Regardless of how strong the desire is to do so, we will never be able to legislate morality. Gun violence will still happen even in a country with millions of responsible gun owners, and organizations that promote gun safety & responsibility. Sexual assault will still occur on and off college campuses, regardless of the outcries against such a personal and horrific crime. Movements against injustices will only increase, and theatrics and flat-out partisanship will anchor them. It is clear that combating gun violence and sexual assault, two of the most popular campaigns for the anti-crowd, miss out on something major. That for all the desire to oppose these things, we should never cease to be most vocal for what we do support. Freedom and the thirst for truth.