Bill O’Reilly deciphered the secret scheme to de-Christian Christmas. On his Christmastime program last year he said, “I absolutely agree 100 percent that the diminishment of Christianity is the target and Christmas is the vehicle because the secularists know the opposition to their agenda—legalized drugs is in that as well—comes primarily from the Judeo-Christian traditionalist people.”
Smother the Christmas and then couples with two grooms will get survivor benefits! Afterwards it’s meth and abortions for all! A reasonable plan.
Every year O’Reilly and his ilk talk about this plot, evidenced by major retailers using the phrase “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Of course “holiday” is a contraction of “holy days,” so their dander is clearly canned snow. But that doesn’t stop it from showing up every December.
Part-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin recently announced her bandwagon hop onto the seemingly one-sided War on Christmas with her upcoming book, “A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas.” (Which is like saying, “A happy Administrative Assistant’s day IS a joyous Secretary’s Day!”) In a statement, Palin said the book “will encourage all to see what is possible when we unite in defense of our faith and ignore the politically correct Scrooges who would rather take Christ out of Christmas.”
Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge was a rich miser who had contempt for the poor and the working class. He would totally be against food stamps, social security and Medicare. In short, Scrooge, like Palin, would likely be invited to speak at CPAC and other Americans for Prosperity-sponsored conferences. Palin would hang out with Scrooge in the greenroom.
But let’s say those who are convinced there’s an effort to downgrade Christmas by not commercializing the religious aspect enough are right—why have these cunning secularists left Easter untouched?
Why does the outrage machine not crank up around the end of February to “take back Easter from the godless?”
After all, Easter is named after the Teutonic goddess of fertility, Ēostre. So Walmart using the term “Happy Easter” isn’t playing up the Christian part of the holy day. Eggs are pagan symbols of fertility. Same with bunnies (as in “reproduce like a”). It’s ripe to accuse secularists of trying to make it more about spring and re-birth than Jesus’ resurrection.
So why haven’t they?
I’ll try to answer that with numbers. Americans spend about $16 billion on Easter ($2 billion just on candy) and on Black Friday (Friday named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess Frige), the day after Thanksgiving which marks the beginning of the Christmas buying season, Americans spend around $52 billion. In total we spend in the area of $500 billion on Christmas.
There is a “war on Christmas” because there are spoils to be had over Christmas. There’s a giant Christmas pie and each slice is worth fighting for. If Easter raked in nearly half a trillion in sales, the outragemeisters would suddenly claim it was under attack by pagans trying to obscure the Christian message by making it about pastel colored eggs.
Yes, there would be books, possibly one by Palin’s ghostwriter, about the War on Easter and the over-commercialization of the holy day means you need to buy the book. Better yet, buy some as gifts—there’s a price break at 10!
This stems from the prosperity gospel. It’s where Christians conflate Jesus with Ayn Rand and believe that wealth is a sign of god’s grace and poverty is proof of his contempt. It makes for profit-seeking prophets. So instead of indignation that materialism is corrupting the message of Christ, the umbrage is aimed at mall Santas having the gall to sit near signs reading, “Happy Holidays!”
So why isn’t there a war on Easter? Because there’s really no money in it. It’s not worth the fight since there’s so little payoff. It’s the same reason no one has ever invaded Antarctica.
But conversely, if there were a plan to destroy Christian holidays, Easter would be a great place to start.
The self-appointed watchmen are too busy cashing in on Christmas to notice.
I’ve been assured my in-laws don’t read my column. However, because of their mix of shame, guilt and blame, I’ll be vague on some details. They’ve fallen on hard times. No one wants to talk about it, let alone have it written about and syndicated.
But I think their story is illustrative:
My in-laws live in a generic suburb of modest mid-century tract homes in the middle of strip mall sprawl. They have a well-attended lawn; two mid-range cars in the driveway, a loyal lab mix sleeping on the porch. They both worked in middle management in not-important-enough-to-name small businesses tangentially related to serving the housing industry for over 20 years each. They paid off their mortgage. Their son, my husband, was the first in their family to attend college. During the housing boom they looked at the massive amount their small three-bedroom home was worth and opted not to partake in the equity, but knew it meant they were secure. The future was bright.
In short: They were living every part of the real American Dream. Not the grandiose one where we’re all millionaires or soon-to-be millionaires. The one where we all have a job, a home and our kids are better off than we were. My in-laws had that.
The middle-class mantra since the Great Depression has been if you do the right thing, you’ll be ok. Work, save, pay bills, pay your taxes. You know—be responsible. Those in the middle-class believe everyone gets the opportunity for success, and failure is something you choose. So when bad times fall on those in the middle-class, it’s assumed it’s because of some moral shortcoming. Drugs, gambling, divorce—something they did. Something they therefore could have avoided doing. These tales become suburban parables, gossip with a moral to the story. “So and so had that shopping addiction and now the house is for sale. Tsk. Tsk.”
You’re familiar with the next part of this story. Giant, faceless, soulless corporations gambled, colluded, lied, stole and were otherwise reckless in their deregulated pursuit of profits. These conglomerates were so giant, in fact, they had to be immediately saved by the same government. Too big to fail: the premise of every monster movie ever made.
My in-laws had no part in any of that. They just faithfully and unwittingly paid their taxes to prop up companies like Bank of America. They also pay for government that doesn’t represent them; it instead represents Citigroup.
My mother-in-law was the first to be laid off. A few months later, her husband’s company also downsized. They’re 55 and 56 years old. Too young to retire, too old to be hired. Their health insurance is $1,000 a month each. That’s $24,000 a year just for health insurance (for perspective: the annual salary for a minimum wage worker is $15,000). They’re still a decade away from Medicare.
Their unemployment insurance has, of course, run out. They’ve yet to find work. Their house is worth half of what it was during the boom. They don’t travel. They don’t buy anything. They don’t have much of a choice. Their savings is going quickly.
What happened to them is government and corporations got together to make life fuller (richer) for corporations. Wealth was redistributed away from the middle and went to the very very top. The term a “government by the people” was said with a wink as vampiric corporations were thought of as … people. “People” that do business in the U.S. but magically exist in the Caymans. Yes, coming from a victim, this sounds like a conspiracy theory. “They” raided my in-laws’ retirement.
But really: Their golden years did go to Goldman Sachs.
As Congress shortsightedly wants to outlaw abortion, bicker about debt-ceilings, vilify those on food stamps and take more recesses than the average kindergartener—the middle-class is an abstraction. The middle-class is just a thing they mention to try and mask being an elitist, beltway insider, corporate toady.
But the real middle-class—the actual human beings—are not getting help from the politicians they voted for. Instead, the politicians they voted for are helping the companies that the middle-class, in turn, is forced to subsidize.
It’s not a theory, it’s a conspiracy fact.
In Reykjavik, Iceland there is the Icelandic Phallological Museum boasting of the world’s largest collection of penises. For around $20 U.S. you can gawk at the members of many different species: some human. Most in jars. Some more jarring than others. In Lima, Peru the Museo de Larco has an enormous collection of pre-Columbian pottery. One section is devoted solely to “erotic pottery” some pre-dating the Inca and others pre-dating Christ. I’m not spoiling anything here: There are a lot of clay pots representing the male anatomy. In Bhutan it’s a custom to paint a phallus on the front of your home for fertility.
Lest we think for a moment we are somehow beyond Freud’s third stage of psychosexual development, look no further than the gazillions of dollars made off of Viagra and Cialis in this country. Not to mention all the coy commercials with sexy-seeming middle aged dudes we’re now all subjected to.
I relay this because I’ve traveled, I’m married to a dude and I’ve left my apartment occasionally, so I therefore realize and am sensitive to the preoccupation the men of our species have with their manhood. I understand.
But last Tuesday when anti-male-circumcision activists from a group called Intaction (you’d be forgiven for guessing they were called U.S. Uncut), interupted President Clinton at a Clinton Foundation Millennium Network talk in New York, someone had to take umbrage with the outrage.
They were there, eight members strong, to protest Clinton’s support for male circumcision in Africa to battle their very real AIDS crisis.
That’s right, someone is trying to do something about the AIDS epidemic in Africa and there’s a group unrelated to anyone dying of AIDS in Africa protesting one of the tactics. Not because those tactics don’t work (there’s a lot of evidence that they do), but because they personally don’t like them.
I also want to mention that I am very sympathetic to activists. I’ve spent a lot of time with activists. They believe they can change the world because other activists have done just that. They are more sensitive than the rest of us, that’s what makes them activists. In that way they’re our conscience, screaming at us to do the right thing. Even if I vehemently disagree with the cause, I respect taking a stand.
With that being said: Really? Male circumcision?
On Intaction’s website there’s a woman holding a picket sign that reads: “Circumcision removes the most sensitive part of the penis.” Like I said, I’m married, to a dude—therefore (very) skeptical of that claim. There’s really no evidence of that being true in any study (funded or anecdotal).
But my main issue is: of all the things that one can chose as the evil they must devote their lives to stamping out … this is it? Not famine, war, disease, poverty, pollution, corruption, child abuse, slavery, exploited sex workers, exploited children, sweatshops, union busting, soda size-shrinking, forest razing, coal mining, whaling, shark finning, the prison industrial complex, the death penalty, illiteracy, female genital mutilation, AIDS in Africa, being Jamie Dimon, bullying, disenfranchisement, predatory lending, being Walmart, being Monsanto, being any subject of any documentary on Netflix, being Netflix, pornography, child pornography, United Airlines (I don’t forget), censorship, racism, sexism, classism, high taxes, low taxes, handicap access and any land use issue within 10 miles of your home? Not one of those is more important than the extreme ick factor (because it’s not supported by data) of a ubiquitous snip on your extremity?
Not to trivialize anyone’s personal connection—no actually I do want to trivialize it. It seems rather shortsighted to dedicate a bunch of one’s time to being that self-righteous about something that myopic.
What’s really disingenuous about this “cause” is the claim that men are the victims of what they call mutilation. They equate male circumcision with female circumcision, which is false. They also have the gall to compare themselves to the Jews during WWII.
Men have more power than women; historically, currently and otherwise. It’s creepy to have superiority and be a crybaby. It’s like Kim Jong Un feeling sorry for himself.
Call it a-few-inches-below-your-navel-gazing. It’s called junk. It’s just not more important than the estimated 22 million people with HIV/AIDS—70 percent of the world’s cases—in Africa.
Seriously, grow up.
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, now referred to as Factious Disorder by Proxy or FDbP, is where a parent or caretaker enjoys the attention of having a sick child so they exaggerate and sometimes induce their victim’s symptoms. Children are made to be sick; parents are given sympathy for their seeming stoicism. It’s adulation-seeking via child abuse.
In this case the caretaker is Congress (specifically the Republican-controlled House) and the thing they’re enjoying making unwell is, well, us: the country, our economy, postal services, meat inspections, air traffic control, infrastructure, law enforcement, military, credit rating, commerce, and every other part of a country thought of around the globe as a super power.
This disorder can sometimes be traced to an early legit emergency, where the caregiver with FDbP first experiences the rush of admiration they’ll later crave. For the GOP it’s probably September 11, 2001. It was on that day the then-leader of the Republican party (the same dude the GOP no longer acknowledges exists, they’ll even listen to Mitt Romney speak before uttering his name) finally got to do everything he wanted without question — all with an over (and brief) 80 percent approval rating. He preemptively invaded Iraq without paying for it, flattened wages, made the rich richer and transformed higher education into a profit-driven industry. More importantly he got Democrats to shut up while he pretended drunken-sailor-spending was compassionate conservatism.
So the idea was planted: The country in peril equals Republicans to the rescue! Even more important: Republican ideas — no matter how unsound — getting implemented.
“My child is SICK — quick cut taxes!!”
And when deregulating the banking industry led to widespread fraud and abuse that ended up buckling our economy — causing another crisis — again Republicans got to do what they’ve always wanted; privatize profits and nationalize losses. The Republican-president-who-will-not-be-named bailed out the banks – those bastions (bastards) of the alleged and largely make-believe free market, saying famously, “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”
Which is akin to saying you’ve abandoned religion to save the church.
“My baby is running a fever! Hurry up and give wealthy white-collar criminals money and immunity!!”
After Republicans lost the White House in 2008 they decided if Obama succeeds, it’ll be bad for them. It was about getting back those glorious not-spoken-about-GOP-president years when they could rack up debt and use the word “liberal” like it means skin lice. And as soon as the GOP got control of the House the government has been on the verge of a shutdown virtually every month.
Republicans get to hold vigils (press conferences) lamenting the suffering of the country they’ve sworn to protect, while we all stare at our televisions with a creepy feeling and a suspicion we’re not quite able to place.
Republican Factious Disorder by Proxy: “We love our country; we’re the unsung heroes of this inexplicable illness (we’re inducing). All we ask is that you’ll make our monument on the National Mall tasteful.”
Our ailments are fabricated by Republicans and the antidotes are also fabricated by Republicans. Our spending problem? They made it and now only they can fix it. Our deficit? “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter,” said Veep Dick Cheney. Now? They matter. Especially to Republicans who like to use the word “Reagan.” They’ve shown their willingness to shut down the government (downgrading our credit in the process) to reduce the deficit. They’re basically sabotaging the country and calling it, laughably, patriotism. Or even worse — common sense.
Obama, for his part, keeps on trying to govern by consensus with a Republican party that waits for consensus so they can oppose it.
They have to, in effect, abandon their principles in order to save their principles (see: the individual mandate; Chuck Hagel; the DREAM Act etc.).
Make sense? Of course not. It’s still a guiding ideology for the party of Bush, post-Bush.
We have a factious disorder because of our factually dysfunctional opposition party. Budget showdown, debt-ceiling, fiscal cliff, sequestration – these are all symptoms of grand scale Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.
Yes, it’s twisted. And yes, we’re sick … and tired of it.
In 2004, the families of eight gunshot victims sued the manufacturer and dealer of the Bushmaster XM-15 used in the DC Sniper rampage for negligence. They won. The NY Times reported, “Under the terms of the settlement, Bushmaster Firearms Inc. of Windham, Maine, the gun’s maker, will pay $550,000 to the victims’ families; Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma, Washington, the gun dealer, will pay $2 million.”
What about the families from the Amish schoolhouse shootings? Virginia Tech? The 2007 Northern Illinois University shooting? The Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson? The Carson City, Nevada IHOP massacre in 2011? The Aurora Theater shooting? Or the parents of the first-graders gunned down in Newtown?
Those families will never have their proverbial day in court with gun dealers thanks entirely to what is known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005. A Republican House and Senate sent George W. a piece of legislation shielding gun dealers and makers from lawsuits, ensuring they cannot be held liable for any crimes committed with their products.
In essence it curbs the rights of Americans to obtain redress for wrongs—the basic idea of tort laws.
Wayne LaPierre said of the Arms Act, “This is a historic day for freedom. I would like to thank President Bush for signing the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in twenty years into law. History will show that this law helped save the American firearms industry from collapse under the burden of these ruinous and politically motivated lawsuits.”
This act of Congress wasn’t about the Second Amendment. It wasn’t about individual rights whatsoever. It was based on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution—commerce, meaning business regulations, not personal liberty.
So let’s recap: The ATF doesn’t have a full-time agency head. It’s under-funded and unable to criminally prosecute gun dealers and straw purchasers. Studies have indicated straw purchasers are the number one way guns flood our streets and get into the hands of “bad guys.” The agency that should be cracking down on this doesn’t have the funding or the leadership. And thanks, again, to the Feds (Congress) weapon profiteers can’t be held civilly liable either. What a wonderful time to be a gun manufacturer.
These arms dealers get to spend their profits to spread Obama-will-take-away-our-guns propaganda, hence driving up sales of their deadly products which are all reward and no risk to them.
It’s like the Wild West but the Wild West had more gun control enforcement.
The Arms Act hoped also to thwart a trend of lawsuits by cities and counties claiming they were picking up the tab for gun violence which could be avoided if the manufacturers made weapons safer (trigger locks etc.), to save the industry from becoming the “next tobacco.” The Detroit Free Press reported in 1999, gun violence cost taxpayers $850 million a year in medical care, increased security, prison costs, lost tax revenues, decreased property values, police salaries and court costs. New Orleans was the first city to try and make the case that gun manufacturers were in fact negligent.
But not now. Not after the GOP gleefully passed the Arms Act.
The industry has lobbied to give themselves blanket immunity. Those who make their living off of making and selling deadly weapons have never had it so good. There is no other industry that gets this kind of freedom. They’re free from innovation and market forces. There’s no other industry (especially one that can easily be held responsible for so many American deaths) that isn’t susceptible to criminal OR civil entanglements. It’s a charmed industry Congress rigged to be successful and bullet proof. If only we all could be so lucky.
From the street level gun dealers’ golden era looks distinctly dystopian.
Any talk of gun safety needs to include tort restoration. Give us back our right to take manufacturers who neglect to make their products safer to court. Give us back our right to hold dealers accountable when they turn a blind eye to selling to straw purchasers and the mentally ill.
Gun owning is about personal responsibility? Then gun dealing should be too.
Due to an act of Congress, Cuban nationals who arrive in the U.S. after 1959 cannot be illegal immigrants. They’re automatically refugees. It’s amnesty! The federal government has spent billions to assist those who’ve fled Castro’s regime. It was a Cold War policy, signed by President Johnson. If they can get to our shores (many have died in the process), they have an instant pathway to citizenship. They just have to get here. And since 1995, have what is referred to as “dry feet.”
I say this to Republicans who seem to be aspiring now to win the Latino vote: Cubans are not Mexicans. So when the party touts Florida Senator Marco Rubio as their go-to Latino – Politico called Rubio “the fresh-faced ambassador to conservatives” (It’s since been scrubbed) – they’re not wooing the 31 million Latinos who identify themselves as Mexican-American, the biggest Latino group and therefore biggest Latino voting bloc in the U.S.
Cubans may speak Spanish, and be from someplace else, but their immigration experience is unique to the island they come from … and our policy toward said island.
And Puerto Ricans, the second largest Latino group in the country, are also not “illegals.” They’re Americans. The island is a U.S. territory. I’m just trying to help you out, Republicans.
The point is: Putting Marco Rubio out on immigration reform is cynical conservative tokenism (àla Sarah Palin, Herman Cain and Nikki Haley), but it also proves the hypothesis by Mexican-Americans: Republicans don’t actually care about them. One clue is that they assume they’re pretty much Cubans.
Immigration reform’s focus (and sticking point) is what to do about the estimated 11 million people who live here without documentation. A 2005 Pew Hispanic Center report says 56 percent of them are from Mexico, 22 percent from other Latin American countries (mainly Central America), 16 percent are Asian, 6 percent Canadian and European and 3 percent African. (None are Cuban.)
These 11 million people – nearly 80 percent of whom are Latino and using what Newt Gingrich called “the language of the ghetto” – make up our underground economy and exploited underclass.
Republicans have loved vilifying this group of people: From candidate for Governor of California Meg Whitman saying we should “prosecute illegal aliens and criminal aliens in all of our cities, in every part of California,” to Arizona’s SB 1070 and Congressman Brian Bilbray saying you can tell if someone is illegal (not by their race, but) by their shoes. Bilbray lost his seat, by the way. And Meg who?
Mitt Romney’s “plan” was for self-deportation. He also went after Mensa contender Rick Perry for educating “illegals” in his state. But then went on Univision with a dark bronze tan to address Spanish speakers.
Republicans have opted for a Southern Strategy: a South-of-the-Border Southern Strategy. It failed. Now they’re trying to reverse course.
The Hispanic Leadership Network, a GOP-affiliated group, suggested the party nix the words “illegals” and “aliens” and not use the word “amnesty,” which some tea-buzzed Republicans took as a challenge to see how many times they could use all three in a sentence. It’s hard to teach the Grand Old Party new tricks.
Republicans moralize about illegal immigrants. “We’re a nation of laws: they broke the law. End of sound bite.” If we can make the subjugated underclass somehow immoral then their continued exploitation is therefore acceptable. The labor they do doesn’t need to be fairly paid for – it’s penance for breaking the law. To Republicans, the wave of immigration from Mexico is a giant chain gang. When they get here, they’re automatically felons so they deserve what they get.
But this has backfired on Republicans. It lost them the White House (yet again). They realize this. They want to be in power. That means they need the Latino vote. Their solution is to prop up a Cuban-American (whose parents came to this country before Castro) to go on Hannity and relay that his plan for the undocumented is for them to stand in line: “You have to wait your turn behind everyone who applied before you legally, and when your turn comes up, you have to qualify for the visa you’re applying for.”
Giving weight to a Cuban-American on illegal immigration is like giving credence to the head of HSBC (or Barclays or UBS for that matter) on prisons.
Yeah, very little personal experience on the subject.
I’m a marathon runner. A few years ago my coach was diagnosed with cancer. The first thing his ragged team of runners did was sign him up with Livestrong. Through the course of his treatment he would show up to track with his yellow beanie warming his chemo-ravaged bald head. He proudly wore the iconic wristband to every doctor’s appointment. It’s possible every athlete—novice or otherwise—fighting cancer in the last decade did the same. Legions of Livestrong members trying to inspire the next cancer survivor.
It’s with that in mind that I say I am disgusted with Lance Armstrong. He’s a fraud. Whatever there was to admire about him was a lie. He’s a fake. A phony. A cheat. It’s hard to hate a cancer survivor. Lance has always had a way of making the difficult seem easy.
I find what he did; the lies, the bullying, destroying people’s reputations to be irredeemable. I don’t think he should be forgiven. I think the best thing that should happen to him is to be forgotten.
He’s repulsive to me. As I watched his “come to Oprah” interview in which he came clean about his doping, I was reduced to only expletives. “Schmuck!”
Then it occurred to me how rare it is that someone who’s been living a lie—a lie as big as the one Armstrong was living—admits all. The public is not used to a full confession. Liars tend to stay liars and go to their graves as liars:
Big tobacco, OJ Simpson, Ken Lay, George W. Bush, pedophile priests, BP and a long list of really puffy professional baseball players (who got passed up to be in the hall of fame this year) just to name a few.
We’ve become immune to baloney in politics. Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster said last August, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” which ended up being the most truthful thing said by Romney or his surrogates until his concession speech.
Romney’s VP pick Congressman Paul Ryan, in a staple of his stump speech, blamed a factory closing in his district on Obama when it had closed during the Bush Administration. They repeated over and over again that the work requirement for welfare had been done away with by the president. It wasn’t. Nor did Obama start his presidency with an apology tour.
Romney even lied about his own plans. In the first debate he said his health care plan covered pre-existing conditions, a lie his own spokesperson had to set straight.
During the primary Romney’s stump speech had a line claiming: “We are the only people on the earth that put our hand over our heart during the playing of the national anthem.” One brief medal ceremony at the Olympics could debunk that. At a CNN debate, Romney quipped, “I’m Mitt Romney—and yes Wolf, that’s also my first name.” His first name is Willard.
Paul Krugman at The New York Times coined the phrase “post-truth politics.” James Fallows at The Atlantic called it the “Post-Truth” Age. David Corn asked, “Campaign 2012: The End of Political Truth?” I joked at the time Romney was singlehandedly trying to kill all fact-checkers from exhaustion. It was a fire hose of half-truths on a candid day.
Oppo researchers Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian in their compelling memoir titled “We’re With Nobody,” wrote, “Say what you will about Nixon—he was a tyrant and arguably a criminal—but he recognized the importance of facts. In an era when people create them out of whole cloth, and are rarely called to task for it, the idea of breaking into a building to steal documentation seems almost quaint.”
Speaking of which: Karl Rove just signed a four-year contract with Fox News.
And now the second-most unlikable human being on the planet, Lance freaking Armstrong, has admitted his deceit with some Oprah-level candor. It’s almost a shock to the system.
I say this even though it hurts: We can’t punish honesty. We have to be able to, you know, handle the truth. If we really want people coming clean we have to reward coming clean. Allocution has to have some merit. Right?
It’s all true! In theory. We can probably wait for a less repugnant personality than Lance to test it out.
In August of 1925 The New York Times estimated 50,000 – 60,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan marched in a parade in our nation’s capital. It was a huge public display of the once-secret group. H.L. Mencken called it “a full mile of Klansmen and their ladies.” The man sitting in the White House, Calvin Coolidge, was a member of the Klan. The president before him, Warren Harding, was also a noted Klansman. The fraternity preaching pure “100 percent Americanism” (anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, anti-non-white) boasted of five million members – nearly 15 percent of the population in the 1920s. They were in positions of power. They were everywhere. And here they were marching for hours around the National Mall.
If you asked an American living at that time what they thought about the Klan, they would have thought of it as “the way things were.” Having a clandestine Klan standing strong for the interests of Anglo-Saxons and terrorizing minorities was a normal part of living in Jim Crow America, and why would something that widespread ever be any different?
Today the Klan has maybe 5,000 members according to their own reporting, and they’re considered a hate group. They’re fringe on a very mainstream day.
The point is: Things change. Goliaths fall. It happens.
We think of people in the past as having foresight to the future. This way we can, with authority, say what the Founding Fathers would have thought about things like traffic lights. But people living through history (also known as the present) often have a status quo bias. What’s going on right now is it. This is, how it is.
And this is how we’ve viewed the death grip of the NRA on our politics. “Members of Congress have ranked the NRA as the most powerful lobbying organization in the country several years in a row,” brags the NRA’s Wikipedia page citing a 1999 Fortune article. And because whatever gets repeated enough in the Beltway becomes common wisdom: You can’t do anything about the flood of guns on our streets because the NRA is the most powerful lobby in America – ever!
Any talk about gun control has been a nonstarter. Remember Bob Costas in the beginning of December talking about guns during Sunday football in the wake of an NFL player’s murder/suicide? He was raked over the coals. It was inappropriate! How dare he soil the sanctity of sports night with his dirty pinko agenda!
Then a week later there was Sandy Hook. Twenty first-graders were slaughtered by a gun enthusiast’s arsenal (who was also killed by the same means). The usual voices denouncing any cries for action on gun safety were quickly drowned out by a steady hum of Americans who are tired of weapon manufacturers dominating the debate.
On January 9, the two year anniversary of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, the Tucson Police Department held a gun buyback program. Arizona has some of the most liberal gun laws in the nation, also (as par for the course) it ranks among the highest gun deaths per capita. The NRA said destroying those 206 guns turned in was illegal and threatened to sue to stop it. They said the police department would have to sell those firearms according to what they interpreted as the law. The National Rifle Association opposes just the voluntary act of getting guns off the street?
This is not a group championing individual freedom. This is weapon fetishization.
The NRA wants the Tucson PD to effectively sell guns to the public.
President Obama who, contrary to Internet message boards, has expanded gun rights while in office, came out with an comprehensive reform package including: ending the suspension of gun violence research; universal background checks; a ban on high capacity magazines; and appointing a full-time permanent director to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). All things the majority of Americans agree with.
The president also incorporated what the NRA called their “meaningful contribution” which was looking at violent video games (some of which are produced by the NRA), armed guards in schools and looking at the mentally ill as potential spree killers.
But the NRA doesn’t want to work with the president. They denounced the announcement before hearing it. The NRA wants to advocate for the absolute unchecked rights of gun manufacturers as they march over to the fringe.