Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Dehumanizing Analogy on Guns and Immigrants

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Dehumanizing Analogy on Guns and Immigrants

Article excerpt

After reading Nicholas Kristof's heart-wrenching column (Feb. 12, "How Is He a Danger?"), about the plight of Syed Jamal, I feel compelled to respond to a conservative acquaintance who, upon learning of my liberal bent, asked me the following question. "Some liberals," he said, "maintain that it is worth getting rid of every gun to save even one life." Relishing his "gotcha" moment, he continued, "Then why don't they ever say it is worth getting rid of every person who is here illegally if that would save even a single life?" Clearly, he thought this was an apt analogy and, thus, a clever illustration of liberal hypocrisy.

I do not advocate for the elimination of all guns, nor would I defend anyone who comes to our shores to commit crimes. However, I would ask what kind of person cannot recognize the obvious distinction between hunks of metal, all created to maim and kill, and human beings, who all have lives and families.

Many of these people have known no other home, and many, like Mr. Jamal, would be a credit to any country. For my acquaintance to assume that it is proper to discard both guns and people under the same test necessarily requires that he dehumanize and so devalue these good people based solely on their immigration status.

Sadly, this type of thinking is nothing new. Throughout history, and still today, the belief that certain people are subhuman and undeserving of basic human dignity has been used to justify their persecution. The slave trade and the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany are but two examples.

My acquaintance seems to be a nice man; however, I cannot accept the analogy that he presented to me. Rather, I feel that whenever we willingly equate objects and people, for any purpose, we already abandon our own humanity.


Squirrel Hill

Don't accept violence

After yet another school shooting, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., it's impossible to come to any other conclusion than this: The U.S. Congress has accepted gun violence against innocents as a fact of American life.

As citizens, we should not and cannot accept this.

Central to the American character is a resolve to improve ourselves; when we see a wrong, we work to right it. …

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