[Although I may write more tomorrow, today I am actually looking at…a weekend! As my work schedule has flipped again. Today’s little rant is about how the NRA fits in so well with the right wing fringe, from reality denial to conspiracy theory to sneaky corporate backing.]
No, this isn’t shame — though it should be
David Keene, president of the NRA, was in New York yesterday for a rally against the recently passed gun control legislation passed by the state. Promising to do whatever’s necessary to get rid of politicians who oppose them, to the delighted cheers of what few tea partiers they could bus in for the publicity stunt, it was business as usual for the NRA.
Keene called them believers in the 2nd Amendment, making a somewhat religious argument for a fervent crowd. And the dog whistling about getting rid of their opposition by any means necessary didn’t hurt, either. I’m sure he would deny it, but Keene’s remarks are right in line with the threats coming out of the right wing, threats for anyone trying to make our society safer from gun violence.
So, I also read today a fascinating article by People for the American Way, which I found through Right Wing Watch, one of my regular stops for news of the extreme right wing. PFAW correctly places the NRA in the right wing, as part of the campaign to stop legislation intended to curb gun violence — they’re out to preserve the status quo, the ongoing slaughter, and they’ve got help.
This was the NRA president in Albany, on Thursday:
“Because of the fact that we, as believers in the Second Amendment, are willing to do something that most people in this country are not willing to do, which is not just to stand up for our rights, but to support those people who stand with us and work to get rid of those in public office who do not,” the NRA president told the crowd.“So we’re with you,” Keene added. “We’ll help you defeat the politicians that would deprive you of your rights. We’ll help you overcome these statutes in court. We’ll do whatever’s necessary to make certain the Second Amendment rights that we have had passed down to us are are going to be passed down to future generations.”
Also noted in the news piece was the crowd’s response, responsible, law-abiding gun owners all, chanting “we will not comply.” Now, the crowd bussed in for the NRA rally isn’t representative of gun owners in general, or even NRA members. There’s good reason for those ‘don’t tread on me’ flags waving in the video that can be found at the linked article. That crowd is the tea party, the far right fringe of conservatism.
Mathew Staver, anti-gay crusader
And that is where the NRA has made its bed, as shown in the PFAW article. For example, they begin with a quote from Mathew Staver of the Liberty Counsel, from back in January.
Radicals in power have already devoured our First Amendment right to Freedom of Conscience through ObamaCare and have repeatedly chomped on our Freedom of Speech in the ongoing “homosexual rights” campaign. Now these insatiable socialists are drooling all over our Second Amendment right to bear arms!
It should be fairly obvious, but the Liberty Counsel has a reputation for its anti-gay agenda, and it’s never a good sign when the SPLC takes an interest in a group like this.
The LC supports the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. The LC also opposes efforts to prohibit employment discrimination against gay workers. The LC further opposes ‘the addition of “sexual orientation”, “gender identity” or similar provisions’ to hate crimes legislation. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Liberty Counsel as being one of twelve groups comprising an “anti-gay crusade.” The LC also devotes its time to fighting against same-sex marriage, civil unions, and adoption by homosexuals.
PFAW offers a list, with examples, of the different strategies used by the right wing — not just against gun control, but for a variety of issues. And they show how the NRA fits right in with these conservative extremists. When it comes to reality denial, anyone familiar with the religious right’s campaign against evolution knows all too well about the tendency for creationists to deny the science. Or, as another example, climate science denial and the right wingers and corporate interests that support that entire industry. And then there’s the NRA, denying the obvious results of scientific research; that is, when they haven’t outlawed the practice of researching gun violence.
On issues from gay rights to climate change, right-wing activists stick stubbornly to their ideology even when it is clearly controverted by scientific consensus and other reality. On gun violence, NRA officials and their allies refuse to acknowledge that the availability of assault weapons and high-volume ammunition clips, or the lack of background checks for private sales of guns, are problems that make it easier for a shooter to kill more innocent people quickly. They ignore evidence that stronger gun laws can and do reduce gun crimes. According to an October 2012 report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, “When states expand firearm prohibitions to high-risk groups, and adopt comprehensive measures to prevent diversion of guns to prohibited persons, fewer guns are diverted to criminals, and there is less violence. ”
Likewise, when it comes to shifting blame away from that which is precious to the right wing, the NRA is in excellent company. While Wayne LaPierre pulled out the old standards of blaming everything else in society but guns, the religious right stood beside them issuing sermons on their god’s judgment:
Religious Right leaders and right-wing pundits played their usual parts in the spin. Religious broadcaster James Dobson said the shooting was God’s judgment for the country turning its back on scripture and on God. Franklin Graham said much the same: “This is what happens when a society turns its back on God.” Radio host Steve Deece blamed public schools for promoting a “culture of death” and teaching students “there is no God and thus no real purpose to their lives.” American Family Association spokesperson Bryan Fischer said God wasn’t there to protect students because schools were not starting the day with prayer. Newt Gingrich blamed “an anti-religious secular bureaucracy and secular judiciary seeking to drive God out of public life,” along with video games.
And that’s about…maybe half of the instances of blame-shifting documented by PFAW just for this one mass shooting. I’m reluctant to go looking back for more blame-spewing from back in 2011 after the shooting in Tucson, but I’m sure it’s out there for the googling.
There’s so much more in the PFAW article that I can’t touch on all of the ideas discussed within the limits of fair use. It is well worth your time to check it out. But they go on, and on. Hostility to compromise. Smearing opponents. Promoting conspiracy theories. None of this should be news to anyone following news of the NRA. Fickle loyalty to states’ rights — like when the NRA and ALEC push federal laws intended to force other states to abide by the concealed-carry laws of the most lax states in the union.
Ted Cruz, constitutionally challenged
Extremist interpretations of the Constitution — they cite Texas Senator Ted Cruz, in a piece from ThinkProgress, claiming reforms of gun laws violate the Constitution.
CRUZ: The reason we are discussing this is because of the the tragedy in Newtown. And every parent, my wife and I we have two girls aged four and two, every parent was horrified at what happened there. To see 20 children, six dults senselessly murdered it takes your breath away. But within minutes, we saw politicians run out and try to exploit and push their political agenda of gun control. I do not suppor their gun control agenda for two reasons. Number one, it is it unconstitutional.
Just as right-wing outfits like the NRA make a habit of reality denial, they bookend this by creating false perceptions of their own — like the mythology of their own political power. This is something I’ve written about before, but it bears repeating in the face of ongoing reality denial.
Indeed, the NRA did poorly in 2012, and not only with the millions it spent to defeat President Obama. An analysis by the Sunlight Foundation found that less than one percent of the NRA’s political spending in 2012 supported candidates who actually won. Early in 2012, Paul Waldman released a study of prior year elections and found that the NRA’s endorsement and spending had little impact on most races. He challenges the notion – an article of faith among many Democrats – that Democratic support for the assault weapons ban gave control of Congress in 1994. Waldman called the NRA a “paper tiger.”
This flies in the face of the perception that the NRA’s influence is what allowed Republicans to gain power in 1994, a myth that is perpetuated to this day, even here on Daily Kos. And it comes as no surprise that this myth is still defended, and reality still denied, even here.
But the NRA is demonstrably out of the mainstream. Their leadership is out of touch, even with their own membership. NRA members support background checks, and a majority of people in gun-owning households support the banning of high-capacity magazines for guns. The best they can do now is rally some tea partiers to their side. They belong with the rest of the right wing fringe. Their ideas deserve to be dismissed by liberals. And their influence, such as it is, shows weakness in political victories like Robin Kelly’s win in Chicago. Or in Maryland, where a new wave of gun control legislation ran a gauntlet of more than 75 amendments and votes meant to weaken it, and beat a filibuster attempt from Republicans, to pass in the state Senate.
The NRA deserves no pity or support here. They can be, they are being beaten. And in Congress, we have the opportunity to defeat the NRA again in the Senate. Keep the pressure on, and demand a vote.