There is a truth that holds for many activists, no matter the particulars: It is the cause that brings them meaning, not success. This is an unfortunate result perhaps of the nature of activism—so often a struggle that goes on for years or even decades with little result, fighting against the resistance and even incomprehension of the people around them in the workaday world. To commit to a goal that always feels on the other side of a lot of hard work requires wrapping up one’s ego in the action, and if that goes away—either in a final loss or win—what is there left to do?
A good example of this is Shannon Watts—or is she, but more on that later. Watts took the election hard, but she’s going to fight on. It’s for the children. Well, it’s for her son, anyway, who, according to what she told People, had “panic attacks and nightmares” after the Aurora shooting. And thus she must work to curtail gun rights across the country—all called a fight for safety, naturally. “There is still a lot to do,” she admits, or a lot of Michael Bloomberg’s money to spend, if she’s speaking honestly, and given the results of the 2016 elections, “a lot to do” is an understatement.
She insists that she is “a patriotic American,” though her evidence is the fact that her grandfathers fought in World War II. Patriotism is a difficult thing to define, especially when we dispute what action is genuinely one done out of love for one’s country—standing with the group when the national anthem is performed, for example, or remaining seated to protest against the wrongdoing of our countries in an effort to draw attention to them and getting things made better. Is patriotism inherited in the DNA? Group identity—the us and them of the Pink Floyd song—does seem to have a biological basis, though it’s hard to believe that Watts received the drive to push for more gun control in the nuclei of her cells from her ancestors. And if her grandfathers fought against fascism in the Second World War, I’d like to speak with them about what they believed themselves as having fought for if violating basic rights was acceptable to them.
And what is it that Watts is doing lately? Picking on Bass Pro Shops. The chain got caught up in a Twitter squabble about their support for the NRA. She tried to twist the NRA’s words into an attack on women, claiming that the gun-rights group called all women puppets and minions, while even in the tweets that she cites, it’s clear that those who are being labeled as tools are the ones working on behalf of a billionaire to curtail the rights of ordinary Americans.
In all of this, I’ve been assuming that Watts is a true believer. I have my doubts, though. She’s been a public relations gun for hire her whole career, working for Monsanto and various health insurance companies. In that latter capacity—then working under the name, Shannon Troughton—she defended efforts by HMOs to cancel the policies of customers when a discrepancy was found in their records—or to shift them to a different policy, and we’re left to wonder what the health outcomes for those patients were.
With all of this in mind, I have a hard time believing that Watts is in this for the well-being of Americans. We’re being asked to accept that after being a shill for years for corporations that put profits ahead of people, she suddenly became a faithful convert to the church of keeping people alive. As I said, I have my doubts. But if she really does have the fire in the belly for gun control, the good news is that for now at least, she’ll have to smolder on her own. Americans by and large aren’t having it.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.