Blogs > Steve Hochstadt > The Extremism of NRA Politics

Apr 17, 2018

The Extremism of NRA Politics

tags: Second Amendment,NRA,Joseph McCarthy,Wayne LaPierre

For reasons we will puzzle over for decades, the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, provoked a mass political movement of young Americans, when all the other horrific school massacres did not. Gun politics is, at least now, big news.


Whenever public discussion of guns breaks into our daily lives, the NRA raises its voice, ostensibly to protect its interpretation of the Second Amendment. The NRA leadership must be especially concerned this time, since they are paying for a nationwide TV campaign,  “NRA: Freedom’s Safest Place”. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre says the NRA’s political ideology “evokes the patriotism, freedom, history, traditions and struggles of ‘we the people’.”


I have no argument with the right of the NRA, or anybody else, to proclaim its interpretation of American law about guns. The only “we the people” who count for LaPierre are the minority who support the NRA.


But gun rights are not the main subject of the NRA’s current political intervention. Below the surface of public statements about gun legislation, the NRA sells its members a disturbing critique of our society. Under the title “Standing Guard | Colleges Spread Anti-Gun Sentiment” on the NRA website, LaPierre says this about American higher education. Every sentence is worth notice.


“American freedom faces no greater threat than from our academic institutions, where the most basic fundamental principles upon which our nation was founded are aggressively attacked by extreme socialists posing as honest professors. Principles upon which America has become the greatest nation in the world—constitutional freedom, free-market capitalism and individual responsibility—have been replaced with Marxism, socialism and a perverse culture of politically correct societal collectivism. We know that, at the end of the day, the wave of socialism we face threatens all of our freedoms and could very well destroy our nation.

Make no mistake. Their goal is not just to create a campus of socialism. They lust for a nation of socialism. They’ll warp every young mind they can get their hands on, to pervert the American values we hold dear to create a brand new, socialist voter to send to the polls. If their socialist takeover is successful, they’ll do everything they can to render Trump ineffective, with an end goal to replace him with a screaming socialist in 2020. And then they’ll come for us … for our freedom and for our guns. That is the tsunami of socialism that threatens every law-abiding gun owner and freedom-loving American in this country.”


In the NRA’s magazine, “American Hunter”, this statement of principle appears under a more threatening title: “Our Colleges are Breeding Grounds for Socialists Who Will Take Our Guns”.


This is not mainly about guns. LaPierre’s America is mortally threatened by organized socialists and brain-washed youth, echoes of Joseph McCarthy in 2018.


During the 1950s, politicians who doubted McCarthy’s crazy charges, but who thought their personal political interests could be served by being quiet, created a federal government that embodied exactly what McCarthy and his ilk supposedly warned about: an ideological state which ignored the Constitution and used the law to punish political opponents. By the time a few courageous politicians raised critical voices, government had damaged the lives of civil rights activists, labor leaders, writers, filmmakers, and teachers.


Are we repeating a terrible history? Our Republican-dominated government takes the NRA’s cash and praises its stance on gun rights. The biggest Congressional recipients of NRA money are all Republicans: 51 Republicans in the Senate and 41 in the House get more NRA dollars than any of their Democratic colleagues.


Politicians who praise the NRA also implicitly endorse LaPierre’s extremist rejection of American society. They support the accusation that college campuses, including those in their districts, teach revolutionary socialism and hatred for American institutions. They believe that “academic elites are brainwashing our youth like never before.” They agree that “every freedom-loving American” is endangered by a home-grown socialist conspiracy. They fear the greatest threat to our freedom: “our academic institutions”.


My congressman, Darin LaHood, is running for reelection this year. He proudly announced that the NRA gave him an A-rating, saying, “I am grateful for the NRA’s support.” He accepted $1000 from them, as did all of the other six Republican congressmen from Illinois. LaHood’s page on gun control on his website is mainly about how much he appreciates the NRA.


Mr. LaHood, please tell the voters in our District whether you support the NRA’s broader political ideology, as announced by its spokesman and published in its official media.


Do you think that socialists have “hijacked” the institutions of higher learning in Illinois? Do you believe that Illinois faculty are promoting communism out of a “lust for a nation of socialism”? Will a “wave of socialism” will “destroy our nation”? Or do you think that NRA propaganda is itself dangerous?


Are you willing to defend the men and women who teach in our state’s and our nation’s colleges and universities from NRA accusations?


Republican and Democratic politicians who oppose restrictions on gun rights, also need to be clear about their stance on NRA political extremism. If your congressman is supported by and supports the NRA, does he (nearly all are “he”) also endorse the NRA’s radical rejection of contemporary American life?


The NRA is not protecting the Second Amendment, it is attacking America. Do they agree?


Steve Hochstadt

Jacksonville IL

Published in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, April 17, 2018

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