18 January 2013

The NRA’s OIP Derangement Syndrome

This week the organization that claims to speak for America’s gun fandom, the National Rifle Association, released an online ad calling President Barack Obama an “elitist hypocrite” because of his daughters’ school. As the Washington Post’s Fact Checker column reported, the NRA’s ad was false in multiple ways:

  • It claimed that President Obama opposed having guards in schools. In fact, he supports that idea but doubts, like the overwhelming majority of Americans, that it’s a complete solution.
  • The ad claimed that the “school Obama’s daughters attend has 11 armed guards.” It has a small security staff (eleven people over two campuses), but as a Quaker institution does not arm them.
The NRA managed thus to be doubly wrong on facts and disrespectful of religious principles.

Furthermore, when called on the ad, An NRA spokesperson claimed, “If anyone thinks we’re talking specifically about someone’s children, they’re missing the point completely. This isn’t an issue about comparing the president’s kids.” Except that the ad said, “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” Of course that’s “comparing the president’s kids”! How stupid does the organization think its audience is?

The Post awarded the NRA’s effort four Pinnochios out of four, the rating it reserves for “whoppers.”

Shortly afterward, gun fans on talk radio, FOX News, and elsewhere then worked themselves into a dudgeon over the fact that some children who had written to President Obama about gun violence were part of his announcement of how the administration will address that problem. How dare he use children as political props? those commenters demanded, though not all in such polite terms.

Never mind that the NRA had just tried to use President Obama’s two daughters. And never mind that those same commenters made no such squawks about President George W. Bush having children all around him when he announced his policy on funding medical research using stem cells.
And when he signed his education bill.

Patently false statements about this President? Applying double standards to his behavior? Intimations that the Obama family is getting above their station? Those are the hallmarks of OIP Derangement Syndrome.

In this case, the right wing’s usual resentment is probably aggravated by some underlying guilt. The national debate over gun safety was invigorated by the horrific massacre in the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The NRA and its allies are desperate to separate children from the debate over gun rights and responsibilities because of the inability to separate children from actual guns.

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