The National Rifle Association is the tip of the spear of what has become of American culture.
This is not to excuse the NRA in the slightest. As I tweeted last Friday in the global emotional swirl to find a solution to what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I wrote, “The NRA is the most hateful, contemptible enabler in America today.”
I also forwarded a couple other poignant comments, one stating “When your ‘freedom’ threatens my life, it’s not freedom anymore.” The other, from Michael Moore, offered a very simple short-term plan of action: immediately ban semi-automatic weapons and mega-clips, require a license and a mental exam to own a gun.
Most of us in politics have encountered the NRA and its twisted arguments, and I have never heard a credible explanation for why assault and automatic weapons should be available to everyone. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with it. It is only the crutch the gun lobby uses to flagrantly impose its will on the rest of us, nothing more.
Frankly, it is one of the saddest commentaries on the lack of strength of spines among U.S. elected officials at all levels today that they, well educated and with the benefit of thoughtful arguments, have caved in so completely to a gun lobby whose success can be attributed only to irrational threats, bullying and coercion.
A few years back, when the City Council in my small home town of Falls Church, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., advocated keeping guns out of its schools and community center, gun lobbyists mobilized and filled the Council chambers with hostile white men “packing heat” in plain view.
As a journalist and as an American citizen, what I saw was sickening. Fear was palpable in that chamber that night. Men with two-dimensional rote arguments terrorized the City Council for over an hour. They didn’t speak. Their guns did. Only one unstable person among the three dozen who showed up that night could have provoked a veritable massacre.
The more guns in the room, the more likelihood for a spark to set off a dozen would be “heroes” to begin firing indiscriminately. It was a tinderbox.
The incident led to a move in the next days to render the Council’s dais, the long curved desk behind which all sat, bullet proof.
This was a tactic epitomizing the “enabling” role of the NRA in promoting gun violence across the U.S., including the horrible events in Connecticut last week.
It is poignant that all who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary were young children and women, their teachers and care givers. All killed by a white male.
The NRA and its senseless gun policies are epiphenomena of violent white male dominion in our culture, which since the “Reagan revolution” for the last 30 years has run roughshod over American popular culture through increasingly mindless, violent and degenerate TV sitcoms and dramas, the promotion of brutish violent sports (including fans, like those in Kansas City this fall, who cheered when their under-performing quarterback was carried off the field with a concussion) and video games that turn every American child into a virtual mass murderer.
Mass murders that “break the fourth wall” from the virtual to the real world are simply a byproduct of all this, and no one should be surprised when it happens.
Peace loving, nurturing women, helpless, innocent children and their allies are commanded to step aside, sit back, and either cheer along with or otherwise condone this angry, gruesome beer-soaked cultural slide.
But, if there is an optimistic side to all this, last November’s election marked a sea-change in our culture, at least potentially.
It was a big win for victims and opponents of the stupid white male stranglehold on our culture. Senate candidates tacitly defending rape violence against women were given the bum’s rush, and a generous spirit of fairness for the first time swept gay marriage laws into effect in four states. President Obama was re-elected despite billions in anonymous contributions being arrayed against him.
Now it is time to mobilize this same new sentiment against the gun lobby.