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Jeffrey R. Snyder
American lawyer, activist against gun control

Our society has reached a pinnacle of self-expression and respect for individuality rare or unmatched in history. Our entire popular culture-from fashion magazines to the cinema-positively screams the matchless worth of the individual, and glories in eccentricity, non-conformity, independent judgment, and self-determination. This enthusiasm is reflected in the prevalent notion that helping someone entails increasing that person's "self-esteem"; that if a person properly values himself, he will naturally be a happy, productive, and, in some inexplicable fashion, responsible member of society.

Fall 1993 - from "A Nation of Cowards", published in The Public Interest
Conservatives must understand that the antipathy many liberals have for gun owners arises in good measure fiorn their statist utopianism. This habit of mind has nowhere been better explored than in The Republic. There, Plato argues that the perfectly just society is one in which an unarmed people exhibit virtue by minding their own business in the performance of their assigned functions, while the government of philosopher-kings, above the law and protected by armed guardians unquestioning in their loyalty to the state, engineers, implements, and fine-tunes the creation of that society, aided and abetted by myths that both hide and justify their totalitarian manipulation.

Fall 1993 - from "A Nation of Cowards", published in The Public Interest
'Cowardice' and 'self-respect' have largely disappeared from the public discourse. In their place we are offered 'self-esteem' as the bellwether of success and a proxy for dignity. 'Self-respect' implies that one recognizes standards, and judges oneself worthy by the degree to which one lives up to them. 'Self-esteem' simply means that one feels good about oneself. 'Dignity' used to refer to the self-mastery and fortitude with which a person conducted himself in the face of life's vicissitudes and the boorish behavior of others. Now, judging by campus speech codes, dignity requires that we never encounter a discouraging word and that others be coerced into acting respectfully, evidently on the assumption that we are powerless to prevent our degradation if exposed to the demeaning behavior of others. These are sign-posts proclaiming the insubstantiality of our character, the hollowness of our souls.

Fall 1993 - from "A Nation of Cowards", published in The Public Interest
The liberal elite know that they are philosopher-kings. They know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homophobic, and inequitable-and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way.

Fall 1993 - from "A Nation of Cowards", published in The Public Interest