Opinion: Driving the wedges soul-deep into our country

With no black man in the White House, with Hillary Clinton pushed into political retirement, the National Rifle Association faces a challenge in sustaining the paranoia that it feeds upon, that drives its fundraising, that pays the million-dollar salaries for its top people, that pushes weapon sales.

Yet in every crisis, there is opportunity. In this case, that opportunity is labeled, for lack of a better term, “they.”

Everybody understands who “they” is. “They” is the opposite of “we.” “They” are the enemy, whom patriots must battle if true patriots they be. And it’s interesting. The call to arms in the NRA’s newly released ad posted above is just a harsher, more brutal version of many of the ads that we saw in the recent 6th District race, which also featured a central narrative of them vs. us. It’s yet another iteration of a rising theme in conservative circles that we find ourselves in a Second American Civil War, an era in which unity is possible “only when the left vanquishes the right or the right vanquishes the left.”

Of course, the message becomes a little more ominous and creepy when it comes from a group dedicated to selling guns, that argues as a central tenet of its philosophy that guns are a legitimate and constitutionally protected means of seeking political change.

That sense is compounded by the imagery and word choices in the ad.

“They use their media to assassinate real news….”
The NRA had other choices that would have conveyed that meaning — “undermine,” “undercut,” even “destroy” — but it went with the odd “assassinate.”

“They use their schools to teach children that our president is another ‘Hitler’…,” a charge that is of course false on its face. More insidiously, the phrase “they use their schools” asks its audience to ignore the fact that our public schools are governed by locally elected school boards, comprising citizens elected by fellow citizens in the communities where we all live. Public schools are OUR schools, not “their schools”.

“The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” Again, study the word choices. “… violence of lies” is not an everyday expression. Nor is “the clenched fist of truth.” In an era of heated passions and bitter divides, this is rhetoric designed to drive the wedges soul-deep into this country, to suggest that violence must be met with violence.

The Fourth of July will soon be upon us, when we celebrate the founding of this nation. The entire audacity of the American experiment has been the idea that through representative government, we could create forums and institutions through which we could govern ourselves peaceably, that our rivalries and disagreements could be worked out through compromise. However, that system presupposes that as Americans, we do not see or treat each other as bitter enemies caught in a twilight struggle for existence.

Again, in its modern incarnation this troubling trend can be traced back 30 years or more to Newt Gingrich, the man who rejected compromise as a leftist conspiracy and taught a rising generation of Republicans how to “speak like Newt.” Look back at that infamous list of words — “betray, decay, destroy, they/them … traitor” that Gingrich instructed his acolytes to apply “to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.” Look at those words, and look where we stand today.

Look again at that ad, and see where we might be headed.

The idea is to make people angry and fearful, because angry, fearful people are stupid and easily led. The idea is to destroy faith that debate, discussion and compromise are possible with those who might see things differently. The idea is to destroy what remains of our faith in our fellow Americans, because power and profit can be reaped from the resulting chaos.

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1604 comments
middleofnowhere
middleofnowhere

What do you expect from the NRA? What used to be a pretty decent organization that focused on gun safety and sport shooting and supported reasonable gun control measures was hijacked by far right wing extremists and led for years by two convicted murderers who got off on technicalities.

ctuckerprof
ctuckerprof

Jay, If you haven't done so, read the suberb novel, "American War." It makes a frightening prediction about where that sort of rhetoric will take us.


lipebi
lipebi

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elgrunir
elgrunir

How'd she get it if it was unavailable?

Peachs
Peachs

Republicans do not realize who they are and who is their constituency. You don't elect a monster like Trump by accident, not being like Trump.  You love the anti women comments.


Trump does nothing for the ones who elected him, which most of those won't admit they are the nonproductive people they condemn day in day out.  It is like all the Republicans politicians , speaker of the house and on and on, playing footsie in the men's room, while they vote again gay marriage.  You are a closet of freaks, no wonder no one can get anything done with your party. You are in self denial of what you want and who you are.

ByteMe
ByteMe

I don't know how Mika this morning didn't just come out and say that Melania told her that Trump's "small hands" problem was not really a problem because she (Melania) didn't like him touching her anyway.


That's how you get revenge on him.  Not an op-ed in the WaPo.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

Anywhooooo, how has nobody at NASA developed a laser beam that deactivates the Wi-Fi at 1600 Pennsylvania between the hours of 5am-11am?

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Td wants to know how do I know Mueller is investigating collision. Seriously td you need better trolling questions.

Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation

Lastly, he still has a job that's how I know.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Food for thought:  Why is it that, too often, racists are also sexists?

Citizen-of-the-World
Citizen-of-the-World

@MaryElizabethSings Haters gonna hate. It's why the Republicans decided so many years ago to cast the poor as an evil threat. Also "feminists."


It was no longer acceptable to cast people of a different race as such, but there's no "us" without "them" so they created the welfare queen as an object of scorn and the cause of all our problems. A twofer. An (assumed) African American female! 

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Poor whittle Donald birther Trump is being personally attacked. ROTFLMAO

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

The New York Times issued a correction Thursday on an article that incorrectly claimed all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that “Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get [Trump] elected.”

The original article, published June 25, covered certain reactions that President Donald Trump gave in response to Russian cyber attacks and interactions with the 2016 presidential election.

TheNYT’s correction notes that: “The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”  Yet, another Dem talking point goes down in flames....

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@td1234 @ScubaSteve "As long as you confirm that Trump had nothing to do with it and should stop being investigated. Deal?"


In no way has this statement been proved to be true, so no.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@DownInAlbany LOL okay, if we agree it was only those 4 (pretty capable) agencies, are we allowed to give it some credence now?

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Where's Mueller's FBI retraction on Russian collusion? That's the one I'm interested in otherwise not interested in nothing you Trumpkins are spinning.

td1234
td1234

@ScubaSteve As long as you confirm that Trump had nothing to do with it and should stop being investigated. Deal?

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@DownInAlbany  “The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency."


I feel just awful.  Everyone knows that these agencies aren't really important and THEIR opinion means nothing. If they were wrong about the number they weren't wrong about the essence.  You seem to think that saying these four agencies were certain of Russian interference is insignificant.  Nothing has gone down in flames except you.

td1234
td1234

@StraightNoChaser How do you know that is what Mueller is looking at? 


BTW: you will probably never know.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@td1234 @ScubaSteve I don't think he is or was personally being investigated for having something to do with it. Donald Trump isn't smart enough to locate Russia on a map, let alone plot to take an election. His people? That's a different story.


I truly do though, believe he was dumb enough to try to snake his way out of it once the fire began to get close to his guys. And if you're being honest you know it's THAT which almost always spells trouble for the guy at the top.

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

How do I know? Duh, He still has a job and no public statement has come from his office stating otherwise. He was hired to investigate Russia and the election.

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@ScubaSteve @td1234 What's important to remember is that Whiewater started out as an investigation into an Arkansas real estate deal and ended up at a semen stained dress. Once Mueller starts trolling through Trump's finances I would be shocked if he doesn't find illegalities and that some of those tie back to Russia.

Citizen-of-the-World
Citizen-of-the-World

@td1234 @ScubaSteve Trump is innocent until proven guilty, but that doesn't mean certain suspect activities should not be investigated until the truth is determined.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@Infinite Hope @Up In Cleveland @ScubaSteve @td1234 But the real legal question -- which DT may end up benefittng from in this case -- is about the SCOPE of the investigation. For instance, how did an investigation into a land deal even end up in questions under oath about extra-marital affairs?

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@Infinite Hope @Up In Cleveland @ScubaSteve @td1234 Now that was a witch hunt.  I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed seeing Starr get his comeuppance.  But it's ancient history. We're talking about this investigation and there's plenty to investigate. Just sit back and wait to see what they find.

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@ScubaSteve @Infinite Hope @Up In Cleveland @td1234 As far as scope goes the part that said "and all matters related to" is pretty broad. And finding out if Russia had any leverage over Trump would certainly apply, so his finances are fair game, and if they find something like money laundering it will have to come out.

Infinite Hope
Infinite Hope

@ScubaSteve @Infinite Hope @Up In Cleveland @td1234   

Checks and balances.


600.7 Conduct and Accountability: b) The Special Counsel shall not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the Department. However, the Attorney General may request that the Special Counsel provide an explanation for any investigative or prosecutorial step, and may after review conclude that the action is so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued. In conducting that review, the Attorney General will give great weight to the views of the Special Counsel. If the Attorney General concludes that a proposed action by a Special Counsel should not be pursued, the Attorney General shall notify Congress as specified in § 600.9(a)(3).


https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/28/part-600

middleofnowhere
middleofnowhere

@dbm1 @ScubaSteve @Infinite Hope @Up In Cleveland @td1234 ????Are you talking about Whitewater and Lewinsky? If so you need to restudy your not all that distant history since there was zero connection. Starr was about to shut down the investigation since the Clintons were cleared and jumped into the Paula Jones deal on his own volition even though that wasn't what he was cleared to investigate.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Have a good day and 4th of July weekend, everyone.  I am now off to my senior exercise class.

td1234
td1234

@MaryElizabethSings Wow, MES. What does it tell you when your own progressive friends are telling you to chill with the hubris behavior?