Being Black in America is a constant challenge. The news has shown over and over again that you can’t
To find a perfect portrait of the dystopian nightmare that plagues the otherwise pristine, Aryan dreamscape of the Republican Party, one need look no further than NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre’s recent speech at the annual conservative circle-jerk known to the world as CPAC. In Hofstadter’s tradition, Mr. LaPierre is the paranoid style in American politics personified. Never squeamish over pandering to the bottom-feeders in his constituency, LaPierre’s doomsday prophecies of White America’s crumbling supremacy never fail to rake in plenty of blood money from the vast swath of terrified, racist nitwits and gun-toting goons within his Republican Party, hence why he’ll never lose his seat at the grownups table while the rest of us compete for scraps. Let’s take a gander at a few of the more choice moments of his recent demagoguery, shall we?
“All across America, everywhere I go, people come up to me, and they say, ‘Wayne, I’ve never been worried about this country until now’…We fear for the safety of our families. It’s why neighborhood streets that were once filled with bicycles and skateboards and laughter in the air now sit empty and silent. In virtually every way, for the things we care about most, we feel profound loss. We’re sad, not because we fear something is going wrong, but because we know something already has gone wrong.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but there are at least three city parks within a mile or two of where I live, and every time I pass by any one of them, they’re full of bicycles and skateboards and laughter. It’s pretty fantastic, actually. The kids are happy, their parents are happy . . . of course, in my neighborhood and a lot of others like it across the country, a lot of those bicycles and skateboards and laughter come from black and brown kids, which is most likely the thing LaPierre feels such “profound loss” over. Something has already gone wrong for the GOP, indeed: fellow conservative knuckle-dragger Ann Coulter’s “browning of America” has happened, it’s permanent, and there’s not a damned thing the Republican Party can do about it. Their indignant outrage over being forced to accommodate people not like them into American society–be they poor, black, brown, gay, or any combination of the above–lies at the heart of every primeval argument they make, every piece of legislation they pass or block, and every lie and fabrication they use to inflame the amygdala of their political base. Without it, they have nothing, because they’re wrong about everything. Moving on:
“It’s why more and more Americans are buying firearms and ammunition. Not to cause trouble, but because that America is already in trouble. We know that sooner or later reckless government actions and policies have consequences, that when government corrupts the truth and breaks faith with the American people, the entire fabric of society, everything we believe in and count on, is then in jeopardy.”
“Reckless government actions,” you say, Mr. LaPierre? Like what, exactly? Obamacare? Raising the minimum wage? Increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires? Scaling back our bloated and corpulent military-industrial complex? Leveling the public education playing field? And exactly what “consequences” will these actions have, other than helping millions of poor, black, and brown people get a leg up? Oh, wait . . . those are the consequences you’re concerned about, aren’t they? If America’s marginalized people are empowered enough by their government to begin throwing off the yoke of poverty and institutional violence, then yes, the fabric of Mr. LaPierre’s so-called ‘society’, the gun lobby’s consumer and donor base, will be in jeopardy. Without fear and false bravado, the NRA is little more than a paper tiger, and they know it. He goes on to say that:
“We don’t trust government, because government itself has proven unworthy of our trust. We trust ourselves…We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want. We know in the world that surrounds us there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.”
Knockout gamers? Seriously? Sir.
I just want to make note of the relish with which Mr. LaPierre rattles off the above list of all the Things That Go Bump In The Night to the sycophants he faces. This is clearly the high point of his whole speech, and offers the single most revealing insight into not only his belligerent mind, but that of the millions of gun nuts who swallow the NRA’s grift: they love this stuff. They eat it up, and throw ridiculous amounts of money at it to keep it alive. Why? Because it’s so integral to their identity as individuals and as a party that to do anything less is tantamount to ideological suicide. If you were constantly being confronted by those who oppose you with the knowledge that everything you ever believed in, everything you held dear was a complete lie, a lie fabricated by people smarter than you to part you from your money and your liberty, what would you do?
The “rugged individualism” meme and the white persecution narrative have been played up within the Republican Party to such an absurd degree that, when peddled alongside the fear and the anxiety and the xenophobia over whatever supposed horrors lie just outside their doorstep, it’s accompanied by a morbid fascination with what their worst nightmares would actually look like writ large. You see it everywhere, from gun rights to gay rights, from taxation to unionization, in the rhetoric, in the marketing. Together, all of these elements create a paradigm of dangerously self-fulfilling prophecy, one that has all but abandoned the fringes for the limelight.
There is “no greater freedom” for old, white Republican men like Mr. LaPierre than the right to do whatever they want to whomever they want without restrictions or penalties, up to and including arming themselves for (and occasionally acting upon) an apocalypse that exists only in their imagination. If anyone is going to bring that apocalypse to life, it’s them, clinging tightly to their stockpiles, huddled blindly, fearfully in the darkness of their ignorance and superstition.
To see the Mr. LaPierre’s ugly display for yourself, check out the video below: