In addition to hoping that we will ignore the allegations of sexual misconduct against Joe Biden, Alyssa Milano would also like us not to buy guns as a reaction to the global pandemic, no matter how worried Americans may be about the potential for a breakdown in law enforcement. This advice is far too late for me, as I am already in possession of a respectable armory, but she seems to hope that others will not join me, claiming that acquiring firearms puts someone in an unacceptable level of risk.
I have addressed the number of people who have recently become gun owners already, pointing out that the dangers are much lower than gun control advocates claim and that the concerns of new owners over social disruption are valid. Here I want to discuss the class attitude that Milano represents, that of someone who is out of touch with ordinary Americans — in other words, the limousine liberal.
This term comes from Mario Procaccino, a candidate for mayor of New York City in 1969 in reference to his opponent, John Lindsay. Procaccino ran as a populist, accusing Lindsay of being a do-gooder but of having no experience with the poor and working class. Milano, having been born to parents who were in the film and fashion industry and spent her life in front of the camera in Hollywood is a casting director’s ideal for the role. She has engaged in activism, starting with standing up for Ryan White in the 1980s and working with UNICEF, and she brought attention to the #MeToo movement by tweeting out a call for stories of women who had been harassed or assaulted to reply to her with the hashtag. And, of course, she is well known among the gun community for being an advocate of restricting rights while having armed security that protects her.
Her stance is unsurprisingly focused on feelings and light on details. I say unsurprising because she is not an expert in weapons, tactics, public health, or criminology. She just wants something done. She sees reports of shootings in the news and emerges from her charmed life to emote for the media.
The impulse to do good is praiseworthy, but the whole point of the “limousine liberal” label was that too many privileged people with righteous motives do not take the time to understand the people whom they wish to aid and do not think through the implications of the proposed solutions. With gun control specifically, the desire to see fewer people shot is one that we all should share. But saying that we must “do something” without subjecting the offered policies to historical, scientific, or legal analysis is an invitation to people whose agenda is not so pure to sneak in all manner of abuses.
And now that Milano has shown a measure of hypocrisy regarding the accusations against Joe Biden and her dismissal of Tara Reade’s story, she has lost a lot of credibility. It is easy to say that an actor just reads lines — since in a reductionist formulation, that is their job — but when someone like Milano behaves as she has, I find it hard not to conclude that her concern is more for image than substance.