When it comes to issue advocacy or issue activism, I’ve never believed it’s beneficial to do battle with a caricature in your head about what the other side is like. You have to study their arguments, study their behaviors and inclinations, and how they organize themselves.

At the end of the day, if you don’t feel like you could successfully hold your own on their side of the debate table, using their arguments, you’re probably not being thorough enough in understanding your opponents. To defeat their ideas, and confront who they are, you need to actually know them.

That’s one reason I will read Ladd Everitt’s column. I want to share some tidbits from his latest:

The modern-day NRA is a white supremacist group that — because of the success of its lobbying at the federal, state and local level — is given broad legal authority by the government to sell weapons to the general public for profit.*

NRA is a multi-billion dollar a year organization, and only a small fraction of its revenue comes from the gun industry, either directly or indirectly. Brownells the company is, first and foremost, an accessories company. So is MidwayUSA. Both are some of NRA’s biggest corporate contributors, most of it being through the “Round-Up” program. That means that the donations are still sourced from individuals in small amounts. This is not bullshit. These are verifiable facts.

I’ve spent a lot of time at NRA meetings, much of which has been in environments frequented by ordinary members. I have never heard any white supremacist rhetoric in my entire history at Annual Meeting. In fact, I seem to recall last year NRA honored Josephine Byrd, the plaintiff on the Wilmington Housing Authority case, to the cheers of 20,000 or so apparent “white supremacists” in the room. I can also recall this past meeting, a line of people lined up to meet Colion Noir. Sound like the behavior of white supremacists? I don’t think so, especially given the number of people lined up were black. I also recall this supposed white supremacist pro-gun community rallying behind Shaneen Allen. I could go on.

I’m not going to claim that all 5 million NRA members are bastions of racial tolerance and understanding. Like any group with that many people in it, there are going to be some that are racist assholes. But I’m not really angry with Ladd for saying this. In fact, I hope he keeps doing it.

They are All-In at this point on a strategy to make conservative whites repeat gun customers for life (this includes white law enforcement officers as well, as recently highlighted by Radley Balko in the Washington Post).

Yes. Please keep this up, because this is not the rhetoric of a person who is concerned with winning. I think both Balko’s article and Ladd’s statement here are important. Our opponents have spent a lot of time and money trying to demonstrate to the public that the cops are on their side. There’s an important reason for that. Here you see them conceding the point. They might not be directly conceding it, but you can’t accept that Radley Balko has a point without also acknowledging a lot of NRA’s member support comes from cops and law enforcement families.

NRA has made a huge gamble, or perhaps that ought to be yuge gamble, in lashing their ship to Donald Trump. NRA’s bet is that essentially the Democrats will not come back from the wilderness by doubling down on the Obama coalition. To make a come back, they will need to soften their rhetoric and come back to the center, remembering that the Dems last time came back by a process that encouraged pro-gun Democrats.

My fear is and will remain that it’s a very risky bet, because I’m not sure the Dems are wrong about demographic trends. NRA hasn’t done as well as it needs penetrating outside its traditional demographic. It’s made some progress, but I worry not enough. But NRA has been playing Trump’s game since before Trump made it cool, and they are very good at it.

I will continue to rail against NRA dragging itself into the right culture wars, because I do ultimately think while we may see short term benefit in it, long term it’s not a winning strategy. But I’ve made big bets against the NRA before and turned out to be wrong.

11 thoughts on “Unhinged”

  1.  is given broad legal authority by the government to sell weapons to the general public for profit

    Does Everitt actually think the NRA is a firearms retailer, by the way?

    (“For profit”?

    Well, uh, I mean, that’s kinda how “commerce” works, Ladd.

    Would he be happier if gun manufacturers and stores reduced prices and incorporated as non-profits…?)

    1. Ladd’s a pathalogical liar. He will say whatever nonsense comes into his head at the moment to demonize the other side. When called on it, he will start tap-dancing and changing the subject to personal/character attacks.

      Assuming Takei even remembers anymore he started an anti-gun group, eventually they’re going to rein Ladd in when he starts making them look bad.

  2. “…if you don’t feel like you could successfully hold your own on their side of the debate table, using their arguments, you’re probably not being thorough enough in understanding your opponents.”

    In my opinion, you are missing the point. What (politically) “successful” ideologies depend on is not “education” based on rationality, but “training” based on incessant repetition and conditioning, as with Pavlov and his slobbering dogs. Relatively few people can be “educated,” but almost all of them can be “trained.” Most who flatter themselves that they are educated are actually just well-trained.

    The trick to being able to deal with the “other side’s” arguments is, being able to hear the sound of one hand clapping, figuratively speaking. Believe it long enough that reality conforms to the belief, rather than the belief conforming to reality.

    The arguments over “fake news” are the current illustration; the condition seems to have reached, or is approaching, a contemporary peak. Nazi Germany (sorry, Friend Godwin) and the Soviet Union under Stalin were prior examples, but I can’t comment on relative degrees, as compared to ours, as I wasn’t there.

    George Orwell commented on the phenomenon extensively, from experience. His novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was probably his ultimate satirical comment on all such phenomena, though it failed by vastly underestimating the human capacity for conditioning to True Belief. George Orwell was too much the optimist.

    1. The point about knowing the other side’s arguments is a good one: knowing how the opposition thinks is the first step to out maneuvering them.

      For example, if the opposition’s rhetoric suggests that it will double down on the “racist” line of bullshit, then it is the perfect time to send minority spokespeople on TV to debate the issue.

  3. Reading the link Ladd listed for the “Racist” bias of the NRA had me smiling. “Unkle Ted” is first and we know he speaks his mind. Then the true “horrors” begin With Wayne LaPiere. The more I read the more clear Ladd’s detachment from reality becomes. To see racism in many of the statements requires Mental Gymnastics of an unbelievable order. I realized I am The NRA. Somehow, that was not what Ladd was aiming for, but we know he cannot aim since he is afraid of guns.

  4. You definitely need to read the other sides stuff. I didn’t come to my opinions about the agenda of the gun confiscators by reading NRA propaganda. I got there by reading gun confiscation propaganda. Then I joined the NRA. I am glad there are people like you and Joe Huffman and Tamara Keel who read this stuff and report on it so I don’t have to search it out and have my previous conviction re-confirmed. Keep it up.

  5. Wow. Ladd Everitt has been unhinged for a while, but any semblance to reality has clearly been tossed aside.

    Keep this up, Ladd. Please. PLEASE.

  6. There has always been wishful thinking and unexamined presumptions behind the Left’s dream of political dominance by means of demographic destiny.

    As immigrants assimilate they eventually lose their client attachment to welfare state liberalism and patronage, and have more to lose from state taxation and regulation. The 19th century european immigration wave which used to be the stronghold of Democratic Party power under FDR eventually shifted allegiance.

    So too will the late 20th Century immigration wave eventually shift allegiance.

    Meanwhile Democratic hopes are lashed to domination of the Black vote. This is assisted by keeping the Black community in a perpetual state of paranoia and resentment. The Left has been very successful at this gaslighting over an amazingly long time, but I wonder how much longer they can keep it up.

    Disappointment at the Obama presidency already seems to be taking root. Turnout during 2016 has already subsided to more historical levels. All it takes is cracking that insane 95% allegiance to something only nuts like 80% to spell doom for Democratic majority control.

  7. “As immigrants assimilate they eventually lose their client attachment to welfare state liberalism and patronage, and have more to lose from state taxation and regulation.”

    In the past, they also gained more free time to mind other people’s business and personal lives, so switched allegiances to an ideology that promised them an opportunity to do that.

  8. Agreed about the importance of really understanding the enemy and not what you imagine them to be. This is why those who imagine the antigunners as planning concentration camps are making a mistake. The great danger is that their poorly thought out plans may make that possible in the future, much as the Weimar Republic’s 1928 and 1931 gun control efforts (aimed at Nazis and Communists) made it easy for the Nazis.

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