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How the NRA is cleverly exploiting a Texas sized inferiority complex

May 8, 2013

The NRA (the National Rifle Association) is currently holding a massive convention in Houston Texas and the rhetoric id truly frightening as it is no doubt meant to be. NRA Executive Vice-President President Wayne LA Pierre declared that the Boston bombing tragedy was somehow made worse because the gun laws are so restrictive in Massachusetts. This is a blatant untruth and he knows it but is in keeping with the on-going demagoguery that characterises an organisation which doesn’t know the meaning of compromise, rational thought or fairness, much less common human decency.

Another example of their sloganeering double-think is the mindless phrase ‘Guns save lives’. The opposite is true of course with those owning guns and people around them more likely through accident or design. Try telling that to media meisters like gun lovers LaPierre, former rock star Ted Nugent, and recent NRA President David Keene. He and his confederates have cleverly played into a Texas sized cultural inferiority complex regarding that state in relation particularly the US northeast, meaning New York, Washington D.C. and Boston.

A bit of history is in order. We are coming up to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. President Kennedy was killed by a Texan named Lee Harvey Oswald and replaced by a Texan named Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ). This post is not about any assassination conspiracy theory, it is about the psychology, in my view, of many Texans then and now and how this has been played on by unscrupulous gun freaks in Houston and elsewhere during the current gun control debate. LBJ was made to feel rather undervalued and isolated while Vice President and on the day JFK was killed Attorney General Bobby Kennedy (himself killed in 1968 after which there were also calls for gun control) was investigated a growing scandal involving LBJ protégé Billy Sol Estes. There were rumours LBJ was going to be dumped in the coming 1964 election although all that changed following his ascendency to the Presidency later that day on November 22, 1963.

Poor LBJ with only a teacher’s college education had felt looked down on and excluded by ‘the Harvards’ in the JFK cabinet like McGeorge Bundy and Kennedy himself. What does this have to do with the NRA gun convention? Well Texas has always fancied itself as a kind of semi-autonomous nation state ever since the famous last stand by Davey Crockett and Sam Houston and other honourary Texans at the Alamo when it was just that. Some of this cowboy mythology has seeped into the orgy of gun fetishism in Houston. For example, the slogan ‘stand and fight’ has been heard repeatedly and the old ‘Don’t tread on me’ American pre-revolutionary flag much in evidence. Texas politicians have been shrill in their support of all things guns and ammo.   As reported by Media Matters blogger Alexander Zaichik ‘Texas senator Ted Cruz drew a standing ovation and sent the “Don’t Tread on Me” flags waving when he promised to filibuster any gun bill to hit the Senate floor on his watch. Texas governor Rick Perry said something to the effect of loving guns and people with guns, but not liking people who hate guns’ He reminds me of former Texas governor and US President George w. Bush  who helped repeal the restrictions on assault rifles in 2004, only much worse.These guys never saw a gun they didn’t like and millions will die over time because of it. Counter to the false propaganda such talk is rapidly eroding America’s reputation as a land freedom and opportunity. This whole gun thang is well out of hand.  
There is something irrational and downright obscene in it all following the gun massacres in Sandy Hook Connecticut, Colorado, Texas and really every state in the union when you talk about cumulative gun deaths.
In Texas they may carry a big stick but just like LBJ (and I’m not taking away from his brilliant record as a lawmaker with ground breaking legislation concerning civil rights, public health care and much more while President from 1964-68) there is a feeling in the ‘everything’s big in Texas state that they don’t quite cut it academically or culturally. Hence the cutting words about the terrorist attack on Boston. A policeman was killed at the premier science institute of MIT so he was a good guy with a gun killed by a bad guy with a gun and every policeman shot is in the same category. That institution and Harvard have always been the object of envy and derision of many in the country and in particular the former civil war confederate states of the American south which includes Texas.
This reminds me of another LBJ related factoid that may or may not be relevant so here goes. One of the Johnson cabinet advisors on Vietnam, Walt Rostow, had been a professor at MIT before he left on leave to work on matters Vietnam and more in the Johnson administration. When his time was up there he found he was not welcome back at MIT and blamed the highly respected MIT linguist and anti-war activist Noam Chomsky for the fact he had to find work at the Texas Rice University. Chomsky retorted that Rice was a ‘perfectly fine university’ and Rostow held his tongue, no doubt concerned he could lose his position in Texas as well if he kept it up. The upshot of all this is that Texas is not known for its art or literature or music or really anything else but it is surely known for its oil, and yes, for its widespread gun ownership.
Once while I was growing up as an Australian in the US (incidentally a member of my family was a graduate of MIT, although no snobbery is meant, I like LBJ, was also a teachers college graduate) the family was travelling through Texas and we heard from a Texan family friend that a husband that shot and killed a man found in bed with his wife in his own home could be confident in getting acquitted of murder or really any other charge base on then recent court cases. I don’t know how much things have changed on the ground since the 60’s but I would say that rule of thumb would be even more applicable for this kind of determined killer.
The public face of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, has stated over and over again like some demented mantra that ‘The only person that can stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun’. What does he say about the five year old in Kentucky that killed his 3 year old sister or the much decorated US Army sniper killed on a shooting range by a fellow veteran he was trying to help adjust to civilian life? The truth is NRA fanatics such as LaPierre, NRA Endowment member Jeff Knox who resolves to reject “any and all” bills containing new gun regulations, the poster boy for assault rifles Ted Nugent, the seven-figure checks signed every year by Midway’s Larry Potterfield, the ammo and sporting goods mogul whose “round-up” campaigns have bolstered NRA-ILA coffers for 20 years are immune to even simple logic. They and their confederates (it is no coincidence that the red battleground states of the civil war are statistically the most supportive of unbridled gun ownership) and many others too numerous to count (apparently the NRA has increased membership to 5 million) are feeling cocky after the recent, shameless defeat of gun ownership registration in the US senate. President Barak Obama will have his hands full dealing with that lot and it seems there is a tinge of racism to a lot of what the NRA says and does and a case in point is the recent attack ad concerning Obama and his family having armed security on the dubious grounds that all schools should have them as well.
The NRA convention has also showcased the deadly wares of the guns and ammo industry. Smug representatives of these merchants of death like Larry Potterfield of Midway brag of how business is booming while making out seven-figure checks to this fear-mongering organisation. Apparently gun ownership has never been bigger or bolder and the future appears bright for any and all that want to own an assault rifle with a massive magazine clip.
I have written about corruption and autocratic rule in the private and public sector in my fiction and I’m afraid that the US seems to be turning into a kind of regressive garrison state although there are rich veins of sanity and excellence from Obama on down so I hope this trend abates or there is a miraculous cultural paradigm shift. Something has got to give and this rampant cognitive dissonance should not go on. Perhaps cooler heads will prevail.
 Criticising the NRA can be a rather dangerous occupation something I’m sure the secret service is well aware of. I made a few telling comments about the wilful distortion of the Second Amendment rights in the US Constitution and the role of wild eyes gun rights propagandists like Ted Nugent on the social media. There was some blow back with pictures of hunting parties turning up on my social media sites and if this was meant to scare me off if didn’t work although with that said I am happy to have a rational debate on matters gun control and ownership if that is in fact possible with these personalities.
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