Friday, March 2, 2018

Nasty. Mean. Brutish.

David Brooks, conservative pundit for the New York Times, whose singular brilliance came to his own attention with his support of the Iraq invasion, has unholstered more wisdom: “… if you want to stop school shootings it’s necessary to let people from Red America lead the way, and to show respect to gun owners at all points…” And then Wayne LaPierre and Dana Loesch spewed poisonous slander at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). And after Baghdad fell and all hell broke loose, Donald Rumsfeld said “Stuff happens.” 
Brooks wasn’t talking about my NRA friends, with whom I’ve gone target-shooting and hunting. He was referring to those cheering Dana and Wayne. So, no. I’ll respect them when they speak out against the kind of vile, paranoid, fear-mongering and hate-fostering speech of their association’s spokesprimates. And when they don’t leap to their feet cheering and making threatening gestures to members of the press. 
When responsible members of the NRA demand better of their organization, I’ll be happy to let them lead the way. It’s way past time for them to do so. If it once was an advocate for its members and for safety, it’s become little more than a shill for gun manufacturers. Even without the 1,688,442,000 rubles they laundered for Russia to help Trump, NRA gets all the money it needs from big gunnery.
[Item: The NRA, CPAC, and RNC ban guns at their events.]  
The latest mass murder at an American school highlighted the best and the worst of us. It remains to be seen which preponderates, but right-wing fabulists immediately began spreading fake news that those impressive, committed, eloquent high school kids, now receiving death threats, are hired actors; that Jewy George is behind it; that the attack was a “false flag” organized by Democrats. There’s nothing new about any of that, except for the impression those teenagers have been making. 
[Item: Most homegrown fake news comes from Fox and other rightwing sources. Also, surprising as darkness before dawn, studies show Russian fakery on social media was swallowed and shared by “conservatives” thirty-one times more often than by liberals.] 
There’s a flicker of hope that those high-schoolers have started an awakening which could lead to legislation more sensible than arming teachers and calling it a day. The dumbness of that idea is self-evident to all but NRA ammosexuals. Imagine: An overweight, orange-haired draft-dodger who bragged he’d do so, lumbers into a school where there’s an active shooter, bone spurs a-jingle-jangle-jingling. Newly-armed, an “adept” teacher, trained over the weekend, suddenly responsible for split-second life-saving decisions, sees a weirdly-coiffed stranger moving toward her…  
Close as those students are to voting age, maybe historically weak-kneed legislators will consider listening. On the other hand, the usual insane malevolence from the “coming for our guns” and “defend yourself from Obama” crowd has been cranked up to eleven, so who knows? Money, the ultimate instrument of power, will be piled high against the kids.  
Until Antonin Scalia originalisted his way into the debate, federal courts had all but laughed at the idea that the Second Amendment intended unregulated access to all manner of arms by all citizens. It was, in fact, a Constitution-sweetener for slave states worried if there were only a federal army they’d be unable to put down slave rebellions. “Militias. People. State. Well-regulated. Not infringed.” Our founders were brilliant, but could they have been more obscure or internally contradictory? 
So how about this: everyone keeps and bears a non-infringed, bolt-action, single-shot .22 rifle. Excepted, hunting armaments are stored at police stations. Everything else gets beaten into plowshares and pruning hooks. Nothing in the Second says all weapons to all people. 
CPAC couldn’t have come at a better time for contrasting today’s Republicans with those fired-up students. A couple of actual conservatives tried to talk sense and were shouted down, literally escorted out of the room. Otherwise it was the usual Fox-speak, bashing of otherness, paranoid claims, and Trumpic lies. With its purulent intolerance, conspiracies, theocracy, NRA talking points, and persecution complexes, CPAC is no fringe group. Trump, Pence, Ryan, Cruz, et ilk, all showed up. Preachers, too. 
If they once did, today’s Republicans no longer recognize the unique benefits of America, rejecting the very idea of society and its obligations. Social contract? They prefer a return to man’s “natural state.” But armed.    
[Image source]


  1. I see that, as of this hour, the Herald has not allowed comments below your column. I hope that continues for today. So tired of the weekly whiners...

  2. Last time that happened it was, evidently, unintentional. I'll see what's up.

    But it's true: the commentariat that congregates there, present company and a couple others excepted, produce the same, predictable, issue-avoiding, fact-free, Jesusy stuff week after week, adding nothing interesting except as a window into the Trumpic mind.


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