“Today, I want to update you on some important progress we’ve made to protect our communities from gun violence. As I said in January, these commonsense steps are not going to prevent every tragedy, but what if they prevented even one? We should be doing everything we can to save lives and spare families the pain and unimaginable loss too many Americans have endured.”
—- President Barack Obama, announcing new measures that his administration will pursue to help curb gun violence.
This is at least the second time, related to gun deaths, that President Obama has invoked the logically, practically, philosophically and ethically absurd “if only one life is saved” argument. President Obama isn’t as smart as his blindly loyal supporters think he is, and definitely not as smart as he thinks he is, but he must be smarter than that.
Yet he uses this ridiculous logic anyway. In Obama’s defense, his entire, nauseatingly inept administration has been rationalized on this basis, so it is a mindset that may be set in cement. Obamacare has allowed some Americans to get insurance that they desperately needed, so, the flawed logic goes, the fact that the legislation has also divided the country, caused millions to lose health care plans that they were satisfied with in favor of new plans they can’t afford, caused rates to skyrocket, suppressed hiring and done nothing to lower health care costs doesn’t alter the official conclusion that the policy is a success.
It isn’t just that the ends justify the means; the theory is that a single designated positive result justifies not only the means but other negative results too. True, prematurely withdrawing from Iraq caused the country to collapse and Isis to run amuck, but the United States withdrew, and that’s enough. Yes, the Education Department’s “Dear Colleague Letter” has caused male students to be unjustly tarred with unproved rape accusations, been the target of false charges and have had their educations disrupted without sufficient evidence or due process, but as long as some female sexual assault victims receive fair attention to their complaints that would not have occurred before, this gender-based persecution is acceptable collateral damage. Sure, Obama’s refusal to acknowledge that radical Islam is a terrorist threat have allowed irresponsible immigration and migrant policies to continue despite their existential risks, but what matters is that some, many–just one!—peaceful, law-abiding Muslims not be the victims of bigotry, fear and hate.
Obama’s latest “just one is enough” assertion is a direct call to the most naive, least aware and most cognitively impaired among us. If saving just one life were enough, then automobiles should be made of soft plastic and travel no more than a few miles an hour. Requiring airlines to use only airplanes that don’t fly, like the one pictured above, would surely save at least one life. Ships and boats never launched on water are very safe.
If just one life were enough, then alcohol and cigarettes should be banned. So should knives, baseball bats, hammers, nail-guns, ladders, swimming pools, magnets, high-chairs, bicycles, electric outlets, stoves, all appliances, bathtubs, kitchens, bathrooms, pillows, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, ropes, scarves, pogo sticks…the list may have an end, but there isn’t time to find out.
The statement is not only dishonest, manipulative and knowingly false, it is also reveals an attitude that every American should find deeply troubling. Obama would probably not say that saving one life is enough if he saw any value or legitimacy in privately owned guns—that is to say, if he had any respect for the Second Amendment—which is to say, if he had any regard for individual rights.
The statement is cynical, dishonest, manipulative, an irresponsible abuse of the President’s credibility and position, and it is also a warning.