Someone sent me this image of the latest copy of NRA's magazine, featuring a story with the words "Target Practice" next to a photo of Nancy Pelosi with Gabby Giffords. Maybe don't do this @NRA. pic.twitter.com/u9fQhxwEyk— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) February 22, 2019
When I saw this Tweet I was reminded of Thomas Ten Bears' comment on my last post about Sarah Palin's crosshairs and the damage done. The potential provocation of that ad campaign was not ever really directly connected to the gun rampage made by Jared Loughner, but to my mind, the idea that the language and imagery could be taken literally and not figuratively has always loomed large not because her particular symbolism was especially egregious or different from far-right discourse, but because of how much it was part of the same militant and culture war (heavy on the war, maybe not so heavy on the culture) and gun-specific references that feature in right wing media altogether. When Sarah Palin sued The New York Times (recently called "an enemy of the people" by Donald Trump) the court dismissed her continued "blood libel" whinge. Apparently, a failure to be treated as a free speech martyr is the worst consequence she will face, and that's fair enough. But an examination of inflammatory discourse seems pretty timely in light of the current environment--the rise in far right wing terrorism and hate crime.
I don't think it's wrong to say that the NRA has evolved from gun safety and education and being a general proponent of second amendment rights, to being a political monster that supports the Republican party (or is just very necessarily supported by Republican candidates because you can't be a real Republican if you aren't NRA cleared, so...) and that NRA rhetoric has gotten very...extra in the digital age. But the connection between the group that explicitly supports the second amendment seems to thrive on its connection to the folks that think they have reasons to stockpile weapons, and that's really concerning. Call it the "Chekhov's gun" of politics--you show people being really concerned about using weapons and buying loads of them in the first act, and you should be expecting them to use them, eventually.
The reason this is exceptionally egregious right now, though, is that the same weapons-stockpiling formerly anti-government violence-oriented types are gravitating to pro-government so long as it's their sort of folks--and the violence they want to bring isn't really good for democracy or peace. I mentioned in my post on Christopher Hasson that Fox News has been talking about civil war, but it's strange to really consider how long they've been at it--years, and how they try to underplay the activities of violent groups even now. (Sooooo not new, though, their acceptance of violence, as they for a bit--I don't think all that recently, though--had G. Gordon Liddy as a Fox News panelist, even though he advocated for the smart use of firearms against G-men, of which he once was one, although to be explicitly honest, not a very good one.)
But to bring this all back around to Trump and his associates, one of the not terribly funny things about the Roger Stone circus is that the guys he has in his circle? Are the alt-right fashy Proud Boys. Your basic Brownshirts reimagined in polos and chinos. I don't rightly know if that flatters PBs or insults them. Meh.
Anyway, the NRA probably laundered Russian money to who knows how many Republican candidates, but somehow are a proto-nationalist front and all they really seem to want is to arm bunches of folks to...fuck some shit up so badly that more guns are always needed. Which is a pretty amazing deviation from the bunch of hunting enthusiasts we used to think the NRA was about back in the day, right?
Also right-wing oriented media is a vector for brain worms and leads to just ridiculous Q-Anon and other assorted bullshit. Lara Logan and other people who say shit like "read Breitbart" should know that lefties do, but only enough to be sick, not enough to get literal brain damage.