“From my cold dead hands.”
— Charlton Heston, on behalf of the NRA
“Every school. Secure the perimeter of those schools. Equip them with retired police and military, they should be on every floor of every school.”
— Sean Hannity
Editor’s Note: This is a slightly modified repost of an article we ran February 22, 2018.
There are two parallels to be found in the language of Wayne LaPierre’s most recent speech to NRA members in the wake of the latest terrorist attack on an American school.
The first is in his claim that the NRA is a bulwark against socialists and a socialist plan to take control of the country. Though his comments were a train wreck of logical cul de sacs and contradictions (i.e., & e.g., the socialists want to build a database of private information as means to achieve state control but that the government already does that through the Patriot Act and related unconstitutional measures does not penetrate the tinfoil and barbed wire surrounding LaPierre’s head) what comes across is the extent to which it echoes any number of fascists raging across the world in the 1930s.
His comments are paraphrased as follows: They hate freedom…they hate the law…they want to control you…they pose a threat…we have to arm ourselves…etc are all right out of the demagogic fascist playbook.*
Distort the facts, incite the mob, threaten or suggest violence as a legitimate response to fanciful and no-existent threats, ignore genuine efforts by the government to undermine civil liberties, and position yourself to act as a paramilitary force.
We have already discussed the various ways in which the NRA is a terrorist organization as well as the ways in which various elements of society from the remains of the Confederacy to assorted neo-Nazi movements have gravitated to the big tent of gun rights.
As the corporatists first gutted civil liberties and then gutted the industrial base a strange amalgam formed in which traditionally racist and violent elements were joined by the increasingly dispossessed out of work, bitter and discarded.
In other words if Springsteen were a right wing goon instead of what he is, one could image the twilight world of post-industrial existential hellscapes and see the NRA and its satellites – replace cars and existential despair with nothing but Johnny 99, guns and “Nebraska.” Instead of Tom Joad talking about justice ol Tom would be walking into a school with an AR-15.
The ideological model here is as we have said elsewhere, analogous to the relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA. Sinn Fein LaPierre/Jerry Adams maintains the plausible deniability of claiming to be a public organization operating within the letter of the law and availing itself of basic rights available to everyone.
That it urges through not so coded language acts of violence and contributes to an atmosphere of violence and terrorism is deflected, ridiculed, and vehemently denied. But these “lone wolf” terrorists are operating as the ideological agents of the NRA and the NRA believes that the nation needs to be a de facto armed camp in which civil liberties will become irrelevant because of the omni-presence not only of guns but through the presence of a perpetual state of fear which itself will become a perpetual state of emergency.
The targets (sic) of this strategy and this pathology** are as you would expect the broad-base of people the NRA despises. Under the mass target of “socialists” it includes, feminists, intellectuals, environmentalists, liberals, Black Lives Matter advocates, gay rights advocates, the ACLU, etc. In other words the list one would expect to be drawn up right after a successful beer hall putsch.
The “idea” that schools should be transformed into hardened targets is not only obviously the wet dream of a psychopath but far more importantly it is just the next step on the road towards eliminating the corollary to the Bill of Rights: the right to come and go as you please; to make use of the Commons, to walk, talk, or be alone yet be in the public sphere without an overabundance of paralyzing fear. After all, if you accept the “logic” of having to turn schools into fortress than surely everything else should be transformed. That is the target of the NRA because when that goes the country becomes a fascist gulag in which everyone is either armed or suspected of being armed and as a result everyone will live in paralyzing fear and crippling anxiety.
This is the safety of the Orwellian police state. This is a vision of Gilead.
Which brings us to the second linguistic parallel. The language being used by both the NRA and its opponents is reminiscent of the language used in the decades prior to the Civil War.
Substitute guns for slavery or slavery for guns and the rhetoric is identical.
The gun/slave ownership represents freedom and freedom from an overbearing federal government. Gun/slave ownership is immoral and poses a direct threat to national cohesion through direct effects and through a steady moral erosion of the common good.
It pits mostly urban against mostly rural. It pits mostly liberal against mostly conservative and “academic-intellectuals” against their opposite.
Notwithstanding exceptions to those categories the parallels are stark and clearly delineated. But the most significant similarity is this: gun/slavery cannot exist in unison with a civil society built on the rule of law.
Weapons of mass carnage and terror pose a direct threat to the Bill of Rights. Left unchecked they will erode free speech and the freedom to assemble and the right to be safe and secure in your body and your possessions and will create a system of perpetual emergency that by definition eliminates freedom.
Separate and unequal is unacceptable. The only solution now as it was then is the elimination of most weapons including but especially weapons of high capacity and rapid firing ability. Because the NRA feeds into and reflects a host of pathologies whose illogic is manifest in the rhetoric of its supporters it is clear that no logical argument will suffice to persuade them they are wrong.
Ultimately it is going to take the full weight and power of the federal government to change their minds or at least leave them to think whatever they like but be powerless to do much of anything about it. Think Little Rock in the 1950s and any other moment when the federal government presented its power as manifest in the form of boots on the ground.
The specter of civil war is here. The idea that it should be avoided is noble and beyond question but make no mistake: The NRA is a terrorist organization using the rhetoric of a fascist bund from the 1930s. It is encouraging and making use of a loose affiliation of psychopaths to cause physical harm, and death and to spread not just terror but to create a state of paralysis in which civil rights will die.
This will get worse long before it gets better but it will never get better unless the truth is stated and the 2nd amendment is rewritten, and defined in a manner that utterly lacks ambiguity and declares unequivocally that the right to bear arms is subject exclusively to control of the government with the exception of small capacity weapons and that ownership of those weapons is subject to restrictions as strident as ownership and operation of a car or a private airplane.
The NRA will not surrender willingly. The NRA is a terrorist organization responsible either directly or indirectly for a series of terrorist attacks. The culpability of the republicans is clear. The refusal of the democrats to engage in meaningful action to confront this issue makes their complicity vague but only so long as people refuse to look them in the face and say: shame!
Anyone who takes money from the NRA should be voted against. Anyone who refuses to denounce the NRA and does not call for a ban – a complete ban – on assault weapons should be voted against.
And even then, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The fascists never go quietly.
*And here a word about the malignant troll, Donald Trump.
We have said previously and repeatedly, that he is a professional demagogue and an amateur fascist.
It is also true that for some time, that has been a distinction without a difference. Trump’s unhinged, psychotic, rambling, incoherent but pointed coded rhetoric speaks both to his psychosis and acts to incite violence.
Trump is a terrorist.
He poses a clear and present danger to the national security of the country and the already weak stability of the planet.
The shameless, cynical use of Trump as a cudgel by the amalgam of reactionary forces on the right, and the spineless collaboration and weak sham resistance of the corporate liberals is directly analogous to the same spineless non-response and assistance in the 1920s and 1930s.
Mitch McConnell is a crypto-confederate reactionary Southern aristocrat who wants to throw the country back to the 1950s.
Mike Pence is the tribal chief for the fascist wing of the evangelical movement and speaks for people who view The Handmaid’s Tale not as a stark warning but as a how to manual.
Nancy Pelosi is a whore and her pimp is Wall Street.
To borrow a phrase, the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of a passionate intensity.
Direct, large scale civil disobedience is essential to force the government to act.
The utterly illegal, immoral and illogical Patriot Act, and decades of media heroin, and decades of economic terrorism have created an atmosphere of apathy and obedience so it is unlikely the necessary action will be taken.
The country is on fire.
The fire brigade is asleep.
Go out of your house and ask yourself the question that matters:
Am I next.
For a look at Wayne Lapierre’s fascism and psychosis see the following:
For a look at our previous comments on this see the following:
**Regarding the pathologies of the NRA’s members. The language used is atavistic and thus by definition illogical objectively but logical subjectively in that it honestly expresses the views of the tribe. Its sources are to be found in extravagant operatic fears of failure, failed masculinity, fear of empowered women and other minorities, fear of the contradictions and ambiguities of a modern pluralistic society, fear of people who embrace ambiguity and enjoy the mess of a free society. In addition this mixes with fears and resentments that spring from the legitimate anger at the corporatists who have gutted the nation and hijacked its future and effectively emasculated and enslaved millions. But, it is crucial to recognize that these complexes are essentially the same descriptors used to define the radical violent movements of the early 20th century.
History, as Mark Twain said, may not repeat but, it sure does rhyme.
Of course other equally brilliant writers insisted history did in fact repeat.
Addendum: Re: Jerry Adams. He did, in theory, evolve from terrorist to statesman.
Postscript: It is well worth noting that places like West Baltimore and the South Side of Chicago have been for years, essentially without civil liberties.
The violence of para military gangs, the corrupt police, the systemic violence and corruption of the neo-fascist war on drugs, the use of civil liberty destroying technology like Stingray, and all of it under the umbrella of the unconstitutional Patriot Act, have turned whole swaths of the country into lawless free fire zones.
And make no mistake, everyone is to blame it’s just that some are more guilty than others.
Neo-liberals ginning up the mob by yapping about “super predators” are guilty as are the fascists screaming about drugs and “rat infested” cities.
While cities like Baltimore are disasters the idea that a goon like Trump isn’t as responsible as everyone else would be funny were it not so rancid.
Regarding the intention of American fascists to establish a state of emergency that cripples public use of and access to the commons there is this from The Guardian:
“Foreign countries are warning their citizens about travel to the US after this weekend’s pair of shootings that killed 31 people, the LA Times reports.
Uruguay’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement warning about “growing indiscriminate violence” in the US, urging Uruguayans to avoid “theme parks, shopping centers, festivals, religious events, gastronomic fairs and any kind of cultural or sporting events.”
The Japanese Consul in Detroit advised Japanese nationals to “be aware of the potential for gunfire incidents everywhere in the United States,” describing the country as “a gun society.” ”