Now That Trump Wants Us All To ‘Work Together,’ Can The NRA Be Far Behind?

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One of the privileges of being a Life Endowment member of the NRA is that I get a daily email from either Chris Cox or Wayne-o asking me for dough.  You might ask, by the way, how come I give Gun-nut Nation so much dough?  It’s very simple, I like to be piss inside the tent even though I sometimes piss outside the tent anyway. But look what the boys from Fairfax will send me if I respond to this email with a check – a beautiful windbreaker embossed both with the NRA seal and the NRA-ILA logo. Just what I need to add to the pile of clothing that I will stuff into one of those supermarket bins one of these days.

NRA gift             What caught my eye about this little gift, however, wasn’t the windbreaker itself but the gear which you can load into the shirt – very interesting stuff. Hiking shoes, climbing equipment, walking sticks, a pair of binoculars and a nice outdoor tool.  What about the gun we are all supposed to be carrying when we step outside our homes? To be honest, this giveaway looks like it was prepared for people who belong to the Wilderness Society; i.e., one of those tree-hugging organizations which invariably comes out against guns. The NRA? What’s going on?

I’ll tell you what’s going on. The NRA has decided they have pushed their leadership of the alt-right about as far as they can, and like their guy in the White House, it’s time to start acting sensibly if they want to avoid being pushed out to the fringe. Notice how all of a sudden there’s no mention of the ‘failing’ New York Times? Notice how all of a sudden the ‘obstructionist’ Democrats have been replaced by Nancy and Chuck? Notice how all of a sudden Steve Bannon needs backslaps from a warmed-over Fox blabbermouth like Pat Caddell? And notice how all of a sudden all those neo-Nazis who were protecting all those Confederate statues seem to have crawled back under their rocks?

I’m not saying that Trump is done acting like an asshole and I’m certainly not saying that racism, anti-Semitism and hatred are relics of the past. What I am saying is that Trump’s approval numbers among Republicans (which are the numbers that really count) have started to edge back up slightly since he began promoting the idea that we all need to work together in order to get things done. Which is a message that won’t work if some of your most fervent supporters (read: NRA) continue to pretend that the only thing which keeps us from descending into total chaos are all those patriots marching down the street with their Confederate flags and their guns.

If I could run one concession at the annual NRA show each year it would be the concession which rents those motorized carts that people use who can’t walk. And the popularity of this concession isn’t due to the fact that so many members of Gun-nut Nation are in physical distress; it’s because you’ve never seen so many morbidly obese men and women in one location until you go to the NRA show. Believe me, if these folks use this very nice windbreaker which they will receive for responding to today’s fundraising appeal to store anything at all, it won’t be rappelling equipment or a flashlight or anything outdoorsy like that; it will be a sandwich, some potato chips, a bag of oreo cookies and a full-calorie drink.

If America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ goes back to its roots and once again becomes an organization devoted to safety, hunting and the outdoors, such a shift might cause some concerns for gun violence prevention (GVP) advocates who have lately, and with good reason, pictured the NRA as being in the vanguard of not just the alt-right, but the loony right at that.

Know what? My friends in the GVP community should always have such problems.

If Antifa Didn’t Exist, The Alt-Right Would Probably Invent Them.

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A good GVP friend sent me a message today asking what I thought about the antifa movement, in particular, the group’s professed interest in violence and guns. The good news about being 73 years old is that it does give me some perspective on current events, and the perspective which comes to mind as I think about antifa is what I recall when I was a graduate student in Chicago following the Democratic convention in 1968.

            We demonstrated outside the Convention because we believed that the Viet Nam war could be brought to an end by putting pressure on the more progressive elements of the Democratic Party, a belief that turned out to be both naïve and wrong. The following year I attended a national meeting of the Students for Democratic Society to plan a more aggressive anti-war strategy and I can basically sum up the mood of the meeting in two words: pissed off.

The anti-war movement couldn’t achieve its goals as long as it continued to operate within the structure of the political system because what we considered to be ‘reasonable,’ i.e., America out of Southeast Asia, was simply too extreme for the mainstream to accept. This changed when the government abolished student deferments, and all of a sudden the children of comfortable, middle-class parents might be headed off to war. But merging a ‘radical’ end-the-war demand with the more ‘moderate’ negotiated peace simply did not appear possible in 1969.

In the middle of our SDS meeting, a small group of activists stood up, announced they were breaking away from the convention and forming a new, more radical group known as the Weathermen, who believe that ending the war meant bringing down the whole government by using, if necessary, violent means. The Weathermen briefly reappeared as a bit of media interest when it turned out that one of the original members, Bill Ayers, had some kind of connection to Barak Obama, basically the fact that they both live in the academic ‘ghetto’ which surrounds the University of Chicago campus on the city’s South Side.

The Weathermen became known as a ‘terrorist’ organization because a group of them went to Cuba and met with the leaders of various Communist regimes; they also blew up a few bombs here and there but their most spectacular act of violence occurred when a bomb they were making in Greenwich exploded, bringing down the whole brownstone and killing two Weathermen members who were trapped inside. By the mid-1970s with the war having come to an end, the anti-War movement disappeared and so did the Weathermen group.

My two cents is that the antifa movement is something along the lines of the Weathermen, reflecting the frustration and anger of some progressive elements because the Democratic Party was unable to mount a successful response against the Presidential campaign of Donald Trump. I’m not comfortable calling Trump a fascist just yet because historically, fascism has always come into power on the back of political party, and for all his whining about the do-nothing Republicans in Congress, he’s not about to break with the GOP.

On the other hand, notwithstanding antifa’s calls to violence and their sponsorship of some silly, social media make-believe known as the John Brown Gun Club, the fact is that the only terrorist organization which this country ever experienced on a sustained basis was the Klan. And in many parts of the South, particularly the more rural areas, the Klan often exercised extra-governmental authority and certainly took the law into their own hands.

I just don’t see that 40 kids who showed up in Phoenix back in March as a counter-demonstration to a march numbering 100 MAGA supporters represents any kind of serious threat, even if several members of the antifa group were carrying guns. Now that there’s no Democrat in the White House who can be targeted with abuse, if antifa didn’t exist the alt-right/white would have to invent them, and they probably would do exactly that.

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