There is perhaps no more visible indication of the degree to which the elementary school massacre in Newtown, CT has changed the dialogue on gun rights and gun control in the United States than what viewers of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” segment saw this morning. Here’s the video:
In what must have been one of the most extraordinary, emotional, difficult moments in the history of television news, “Morning Joe” anchor and former four-term conservative Republican Congressman, Joe Scarborough, reached out to Americans in a ten-minute op-ed on the issue of guns and gun violence in this country. This may not be seen as extraordinary for MSNBC, which, after all, has been a bastion of liberal-leaning reporting for years. However, Scarborough has been, throughout his career, a staunch libertarian, an advocate of individual rights over government intervention on virtually every issue, and a multiple recipient of the NRA’s highest awards on gun rights advocacy.
And yet, for Scarborough, as for many other Americans, Newtown was a watershed moment.
This morning, Joe stepped forward in what can only be called a heroic manner to make an eloquent plea for rational, thoughtful, comprehensive dialogue on guns and gun violence in America. Dialectically, philosophically, and rationally, it was a tour de force – an address to the nation as eloquent and deeply thought (and felt) as any in our history. The fact that it represented a dramatic change of heart for someone who has, throughout his public life, been a pillar of integrity to his own strong belief system and a strong advocate for the libertarian and conservative cause, makes this address remarkable not only as a piece of oratory, but as an example of extraordinary courage and intellectual honesty.
If you have not yet seen this video, you owe it to yourself to set aside ten quiet minutes in your day – today – to watch. Save it for a time when you can hear it through. And be prepared to see something that is rare – all too rare – not just on television, but in American life as a whole in today’s hyper-charged atmosphere.
Kudos to Joe. We can only hope that those 31 pro-gun senators who played an ostrich act on Sunday, and the NRA with its abrupt disappearance from public view, and others who have so stridently advocated for what is increasingly becoming an untenable cause, will find similar intestinal fortitude and learn from his example.