Conservative Jewish columnist Bethany Mandel published an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday in which she discussed her experience being threatened and buying a gun to protect her family, and in response, a gun-control activist called her out on Twitter for her white "privilege."
In a piece titled, "I Wanted to Be a Good Mom. So I Got a Gun," Mandel described recieving threats from neo-nazis and the alt-right during the 2016 presidential election season, even getting her home address posted on the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi news site.
"I was given a reason to feel that I needed to defend myself and my family. And I acted on it," Mandel wrote.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, a group associated with the Michael Bloomberg-bankrolled gun-control advocacy group Everytown, took issue with the op-ed and particularly with the fact it was featured with a photo of a woman of color.
Interesting that the New York Times paired this op-ed by a white woman based on her anecdotes of fear and paranoia – instead of actual gun safety data – with a photo of a woman of color… https://t.co/gDayS7DcsX
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 5, 2018
Mandel responded on Twitter, disagreering that her fears were inconsequential "anecdotes of fear and paranoia" given that her home address was published by a neo-Nazi site, a threat credible enough that the police still drive by her house multiple times daily.
"Not exactly tinfoil hat paranoid over here," Mandel said.
On the supposed issue of the photo, Mandel said she did not choose the picture to accompany her op-ed, but she also didn't see why her skin color was relevant in taking action to keep her family safe.
Watts attempted to enlighten her on why she though it was relevant.
"Because your privilege in feeling that a gun will make you safer is in part because you are white," Watts said.
Madel pushed back on her "privilege" being a factor, saying, "I just took my mom off life support at 16, had my father hang himself when I was 19 and grew up in a single wide trailer in Northrup's Trailer Park in upstate New York. Besides that I've been truly #blessed."
Watts replied in a now-deleted tweet that her "white skin" nonetheless lowered her "risk as a gun owner," saying that if Mandel didn't see that, she must not "believe in racism."
Watts continued to push Mandel for seeking to make "gun laws based on emotion, not data," but Mandel asked why the gun-control activist then promoted the Parkland high school students for two weeks. Watts in response made a distinction between Mandel's emotion and the students', arguing the students' push for greater gun control is based on the fact "stronger gun laws save lives."
"Their emotions are based in fact," Watts said. "Stronger gun laws save lives."