What many of my liberal friends may not grasp from the press conference is how the NRA reflects the Conservative World View. Conservatives who have internalized this world view may not fully understand it either. (Mind you there's a Liberal World View, too, but that's not the subject du jour.) I don't post this to fault the conservative world view, but to educate the clueless.
To me, the key that NRA vice-president LaPierre was preaching to his fans came when he said, buried in his speech: "With all the foreign aid, with all the money in the federal budget..." This is a conservative talking point that his little to do with guns. It's just there to press all the right [right's?] buttons. People believe that a huge chunk of their tax dollars are wasted on "foreign aid." In truth, such aid a tiny fraction (almost a rounding error) of the federal budget.
The conservative world view believes in good and evil. There is a strong dose of religion. There is a non-relativist idea of right of wrong. There is a strong defensive sense of people being out to get you. There's an attempt to place blame. There is a heavy does of fear. Much of the conservative world view can be reprised with, "Be afraid. Be very afraid."
Another idea is the concept of true evil. I tend to see this as religiously based. Liberals like to think of people needing help and support. Call it New Testament. Conservatives like to believe in Good and Evil. Call it Zarathustrian (though you can call it Old Testament if you don't want to google Zarathustra). Here's the NRA:
The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day.It's almost zombie like. And when the zombies come get to get me, even I'm gonna want a semi-automatic by my side.
One of my first introductions to this world view was in the police academy. One thing (along with a nostalgic longing for corporal punishment in child rearing) really struck me: the demonization of the media. This surprised me, but it's part of the reason for the rise of the ideologically "anti-mainstream media" Fox News. There's a market there. (It was also why it was so fun to see their version of the truth collapse on election night.)
I'm pro-media. I grew up in a pro-newspaper household. In school I was taught the importance of freedom of the press. My uncle was the fine editor of many a-fine newspapers in Red and Blue states. I started writing for real -- in print and for the public to see -- for The Evanstonian, my high school newspaper.
I do not believe the media is the problem.
In the NRA press conference, the "media" was called out by name nine times. These shootings, according to this conservative world view, is the fault of the media.
Mind you we all love scapegoats. Because otherwise we'd have to blame ourselves for the our problems. And that's no fun.
How can we possibly even guess how many [copycat killers are waiting in the wings], given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?This one may not reflect a conservative world view. Regardless, I would like to highlight this statement about the mentally ill and also that the NRA is calling for the creation of a national database on US citizens. This is both horrible and strange.
...address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country.It's not that this criminal class doesn't exist. I don't deny it (though it's pretty small). But to say they "spread like cancer in every community." Be afraid. Be very afraid.
And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.Again, the conspiratorial tone about the media. Them East Coast elites are all in cahoots, don't forget. This time they're marching hand-in-devil's-hand with [be afriad, be very afraid], "the vicious violent video game [industry]" [da dum]! It's their fault, along with the "media conglomerates [who] compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society."
And throughout it all, too many in our national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders, act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators.... and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking.He sounds like an Occupy person speaking here, doesn't he? Seriously.
The conservative part is believing that the media isn't just ignorant (like liberals are), but rather that they do actually know "the truth" and insist on purposefully feeding us lies.
[For instance, the media doesn't know their gun facts well and often confuse automatic and semi-automatic weaponry. This is true, by the way. But such ignorance is hardly to blame for the downfall of civilized society.]
Then LaPierre talks about 20,000 gun bans already in existence, which, alas, isn't true. But oh well.
[Reminds me of Animal House: “The Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” "Don’t stop him. He’s on a roll!”]
When you hear your glass breaking at 3am, and you call 911, you won’t be able to pray hard enough for a gun.Conservatives always talk about "when" and not "if" someone breaks into your home, robs, or rapes you. It's the culture of fear. Be afraid. Be very afraid. If somebody does break into my home, I'll tell what I'm not going to do: waste time praying.
LaPierre also said this:
How have our nation’s priorities gotten so far out of order. Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, even sports stadiums are all protected by armed security.At first glance this makes sense. I took me a bit longer to figure out what is wrong with this logic.
We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it.
The president and flying are special events. They doesn't affect most of us on a day-to-day level. People who handle and transport large amounts of money are particularly at risk of robbery. They need to protect themselves and "target harden." And anytime you get tens of thousands of random people together, it's good to have a few cops around. Nobody argues with that.
And out of all of that, none of it affects our day-to-day lives unless you work in a bank, are a professional athletes, or the president. What the NRA is advocating -- what they have always advocated -- is that we bring guns into our day-to-day lives. What the NRA does not understand is the most people do not want to. And what's more, we do not have to.
Most Americans want to live in a society where their six year old is not protected with a gun. Why? Because then we've let the terrorists win. The world simply isn't that evil. America isn't so evil. At least not unless Americans are so much more intrinsically evil (or so much stupider and thus demonically influenced by the media, movies, and video game conglomerates) than the rest of the civilized world. It is possible to live without a ubiquitously armed society.
Let's remember that in large parts of the world -- England, Ireland, Japan, Scandinavia -- even police don't need to carry guns. Though I doubt we'll ever see a time when the majority of police in America are unarmed, the whole point of civilization remember that such a world is possible. If we forget that and abandon our ideals, we will have entered a true dark age.
What says the NRA?
Is the press and political class here in Washington so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and America’s gun owners that you’re willing [to die at the hands of "evil monsters."]Consumed with fear and hatred? Perhaps the NRA doth protest too much, methinks!
[My answer, not that you asked: ban guns that use magazines. Keep your six shooters. Keep your shotguns. No more glocks (in civilian hands). No more semi-automatic assault rifles. Regulate and ban guns to the limits of the 2nd Amendment. Also, just for the hell of it, I'll make a prediction and say all this brouhaha will create no real change in our gun laws or public safety. And we'll just keep having these things happen again and again.]