And yet, when I watch Piers Morgan these days, I smile. It’s not because Morgan’s views on guns are correct, although I think they are. Or because his arguments are especially clever. What I love about Morgan is precisely what the gun enthusiasts hate: his foreignness. When American liberals discuss their fellow citizens’ love affair with guns, they often strain to show cultural sensitivity, either because they know it’s politically necessary or because they don’t want to sound like foreigners in their own land. Thus, they pledge fealty to the Second Amendment (even if they think it’s an absurd anachronism) and vow never to infringe on the rights of hunters (even if they consider shooting ducks both idiotic and gross). Not Morgan. When denouncing America’s gun culture, he generally sounds both astonished and appalled, like a missionary who has just been told that the natives he’s been sent to civilize periodically barbecue their wives. Again and again, he cites statistics from his native England, and other more advanced societies where gun murder is rare, as if merely being exposed to the norms of the wider world will show Americans how benighted they really are.
That’s what I like. I like the fact that, as an outsider, Morgan has not been desensitized to America’s gun mania in the way so many of us natives have. I like the fact that he thinks Americans can actually learn from the rest of the world. And most of all, I like the fact that Americans are getting to see, night after night on TV, what it’s like to be judged by the rest of the planet. It’s not fun, but we’d better get used to it.