I like Dana Loesch. I think she’s a patriotic American who wants what’s best for this country. I like her taste in firearms, and respect her willingness to train to defend herself and her family. I’m glad to stand with her as a supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, and I think she is a powerful advocate for her views. We probably have some areas where we disagree, but that’s okay; I don’t have to agree with a person on everything to like and respect them. I also like the NRA. It’s been out in front defending our right to keep and bear arms for my entire life. If it didn’t exist, the Bill of Rights would be in far worse shape than it is . . .
I mention this because Ms. Loesch recently posted a video via NRA News in which she rather caustically takes on what she refers to as “The Godless Left” (above). Go ahead, give it a look. I’ll wait.
My first reaction is…confusion: I don’t understand why NRA News published this video.
If you’ll forgive the somewhat vulgar analogy, the NRA’s political advocacy is kind of like sex. When it’s good, it’s really good (and it’s mostly good). But when it’s bad, it can be downright embarrassing for all parties concerned. I submit that this video falls into the latter category.
I always took the NRA’s two purposes as being political advocacy for the Second Amendment and providing training and support for people engaged in the various shooting sports. None of that has anything to do with religion, Obamacare, Benghazi, or the other political topics that Ms. Loesch talks about at length. These may, indeed, be topics worth discussing. They may even be indirectly tied to the firearms issue (as several others have argued about immigration in the past).
But if they are, the connection is not made obvious in the video. And if they’re not, I don’t think the NRA is the correct organization to sponsor a discussion on the subject. All that does is dilute the brand at a time when the popularity of firearms and the legal availability of concealed carry has expanded to new states in the north from which it had traditionally been excluded.
I don’t go to the NRA for anything other than ideas, advice, and advocacy concerning firearms. I don’t think I’m in the minority here. It would be like someone coming to TTAG and finding that, instead of articles about firearms-related topics, there were articles about religion and Obamacare, and instead of the occasional pic of an Israeli supermodel, you saw screenshots of William F. Buckley heatedly arguing with Gore Vidal about the Vietnam War.
In other words, imagine a TTAG where this:
…would be replaced with that:
See what I mean?
All kidding aside, in the right context, Hillary’s incompetence as Secretary of State, the problems with Obamacare and whether or not Buckley should have just cold-cocked Vidal back in ’68 are worthy topics of discussion over a couple of bourbon barrel beers on a Saturday night. But as the thrust of a video supported by the NRA, they’re the wrong topics in the wrong forum proffered by the wrong people.
Sebastian from the Shall Not Be Questioned blog opines that videos like this may not be helping the right to keep and bear arms:
I get that the prayer shaming that followed the attack in San Bernardino made that issue tangentially gun related. But should Obamacare be an NRA issue? Why use Dana Loesch to drag NRA into all these other right issues that have exactly shit to do with the Second Amendment?
If there’s anything that’s at all certain in politics, it’s that there is no such thing as permanent majorities. Without support from Democrats and people on the center-left, there will be no way to permanently secure the Second Amendment from the depredations of those who oppose it. NRA is tying (Loesching?) the Second Amendment to the fortunes of the conservative movement. It may be successful short term, but I worry NRA is shooting itself and the Second Amendment in the foot long term.
I agree and I worry about that, too.
Sebastian also made reference to a recent article in the L.A. Times by Ken White (the founder of the Pope Hat blog on civil liberties, called ‘Cultural Bundling’ and other obstacles to a real gun control debate. In it, he offers the following thoughts, which are definitely worth considering:
Much of our modern American dialogue about gun rights and gun control is [unproductive]. We yell, we signal to the like-minded, we circle our wagons, we take shots at opponents.
Imagine that we wanted to have a productive conversation. Imagine that we wanted to identify our irreducible philosophical and practical differences, seek areas of agreement and change some minds. What might we do?
First, we could stop culture-bundling. We culture-bundle when we use one political issue as shorthand for a big group of cultural and social values. Our unproductive talk about guns is rife with this. Gun control advocates don’t just attack support for guns; they attack conservative, Republican, rural and religious values. Second Amendment advocates don’t just attack gun control advocates; they attack liberal, Democratic, urban and secular values. The gun control argument gets portrayed as the struggle against Bible-thumping, gay-bashing, NASCAR-watching hicks, and the gun rights argument gets portrayed as a struggle against godless, elitist, kale-chewing socialists.
That’s great for rallying the base, I guess, but that’s about all. When you culture-bundle guns, your opponents don’t hear “I’m concerned about this limitation on rights” or “I think this restriction is constitutional and necessary.” They hear “I hate your flyover-country daddy who taught you to shoot in the woods behind the house when you were 12” and “Your gay friends’ getting married would ruin America and must be stopped.” That’s unlikely to create consensus….
I’d ike to add that cultural bundling only serves to rally the base without adding to it. Is there anyone who isn’t already a Christian and a conservative who would be persuaded by it? Off the top of my head, we’ve had some near-fights over RKBA-related issues recently in places like Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Based on what you know about the kinds of people who are likely to live there, do you think this video helps our cause in those states?
Full disclosure: I may be a little biased here. This video pushed my buttons because I’m not a religious man. I was in college the last time I called myself a “conservative,” and neoconservative pundit John Podhoretz has called me “disgusting” because I didn’t agree with his take on firearms and self-defense. I’ve never begrudged a prayer offered in sincerity, and gladly make common cause with Christian conservatives on guns and a host of other issues. But if I wasn’t already passionately on board with the whole gun thing…well, this video wouldn’t have gotten me on the bandwagon.
The surest way to guarantee that our rights are protected is to make sure that we have broad support for them, regardless of class, race, religion, or region. We are winning in the polls. More people support the right to keep and bear arms and oppose firearms bans than ever before in my adult lifetime. It makes sense: not only do we have the nation’s founding document and history on our side, we also have basic self-interest on our side, too. That’s a winning combination in my book. I’d like for us to keep winning. Videos implying that you need to accept the entire right-wing ideological package to support the Second Amendment do us a disservice.
Perhaps I’m wrong, though. Perhaps I’m worried about nothing. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. But I don’t think so.