Beware Sociologists Seeking to Smear Gun Owners As Racists

Ben Agger, SociologistIn the wake of the election of the Historic Obama, as reporters are pressed by their editors to perhaps consider that large 47.3 percent of the electorate that didn’t vote for History, out comes the idea of conservatives gripped by white-man panic, with stories soaked in sociologists tagging gun owners with a "deep-seated fear of the armed black man," exacting "retribution for the very deep-seated legacy of slavery."

My friend Cam Edwards tipped me to this story in Wednesday's Chicago Tribune, headlined "Obama win triggers run on guns: Buyers said to fear crackdown on their rights, civil unrest." Reporting from Houston, deep in red-state rage, Howard Witt wrote the election if causing a run on gun stores for guns and ammo:

Some say they are worried that the incoming Obama administration will attempt to reimpose the ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004. Others fear the loss of their right to own handguns. A few say they are preparing to protect themselves in the event of a race war.

The voice of sanity is awarded to a member of Gun Owners for Obama:

Not every gun enthusiast is so worried. Mark Greene, a hunter and member of Gun Owners for Obama who led a grass-roots campaign for the Democrat in Tarrant County, Texas, said he regarded fears of a looming ban on assault weapons as unfounded.

"People are being pretty reactionary," Greene said. "There's a small contingent of folks in and out of the gun-owning community concerned that Obama's election is such a revolutionary change that it could portend mayhem. I think it's hysteria."

Speaking of hysteria, Witt really poured the paint on the picture of Panicked White Men by seeking out sociologist Ben Agger:

One expert sees a darker motive driving some post-election gun purchasers.

"Why are white people buying assault weapons?" said Ben Agger, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington who wrote a book about the Virginia Tech slayings. "I almost hate to say it, but there is a deep-seated fear of the armed black man, because Obama now commands the military and other instruments of the justice system. They are afraid Obama will exact retribution for the very deep-seated legacy of slavery."

One could argue that putting this quote at article's end was the reporter's realization that it was too hysterical for an earlier placement. But often reporters put a liberal or leftist thought at the end like an exclamation point, to leave the reader with a liberal impression. This thought doesn't leave an impression as much as the sensation of a brick thrown at your head. Agger also appeared with a similar thesis in an earlier story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Ben Agger said he’s concerned, though, about what is prompting fear in gun owners.

"What is the underlying motivation . . . to buy assault weapons?" asked Agger, a sociology and humanities professor at the University of Texas at Arlington who wrote There Is a Gunman on Campus: Tragedy and Terror at Virginia Tech. "Part of me worries this is an expression of the need for people who disagree with Obama to arm themselves because they entertain the thought that there could be armed conflict or possibly race war."

Can't someone prepare to oppose Obama in the political arena without bearing signs of mental illness? One senses in these articles a deep-seated loathing of gun owners, an overbroad psychological profiling.

This matches one template of the Clinton years, when Clinton opponents were painted into the fever swamps of hatred and delusion by the "mainstream media." But these reporters didn't find anything like this in the rants of the anti-Bush blogosphere or the hot talk on the left-wing radio circuit over the last eight years.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis