I can't tell you how let down I am that I didn't make the National Rifle Association's so-called "enemies list," which has surfaced again as the gun lobby comes under closer fire, if you'll excuse the expression.
The NRA keeps so many scores of groups in its sights as anti-gun-control that it beggars belief. Among them are the American Academy of Pediatrics, the United Methodist Church, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the YWCA, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. Those from the creative arts named include Bruce Springsteen, Alec Baldwin, Jerry Seinfeld, Matt Damon, Kyra Sedgwick, and Maya Angelou, to name but a few.
What an honor. Some newspaper columnists, notably E.J. Dionne, Jr., and Cynthia Tucker, got the nod. Congratulations to all, but count me in for next time. Another columnist, the economist Paul Krugman, who writes for the New York Times, is also mysteriously missing. He recently described the NRA as "insane," in the wake and ashes of the Newtown school shooting tragedy.
Well, I go farther than that. The NRA may as well be criminally insane for the part it plays in American society, terrorizing legislators like a loose junkyard dog. It has intervened to block medical treatment and lawsuits relating to gun ownership and violence. Deaf to the urgent words of wounded former representative Gabrielle Giffords, whose congressional career was cut short by a lone white young gunman, the NRA was unmoved by the cold blooded murder of women and children in Newtown by a lone white young gunman. For its aggressive stance over the last decades, NRA has the blood of children on its hands.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, didn't bat an eye in front of a Senate panel where Giffords and Newtown parents made eloquent pleas for better gun laws, such as background checks for buyers. LaPierre didn't move an inch on working with Congress on an assault weapons ban. And there was no apology to President Obama for the ludicrous, lowdown ad suggesting that his daughters' school, Sidwell Friends, has armed guards ("his kids are protected by armed guards at their school"). Of course the Secret Service protects every president's family, but the daughters' school does not have armed guards. (Note to LaPierre's outfit: Society of Friends schools are Quaker, a pacifist faith founded in 17th century England. "Pacifist" is a word NRA leaders should go look up in the dictionary.)
Assault weapons are more sacred than preventing human tragedy, both civilian and police deaths. It's just that simple in the NRA's sinister worldview. Obama could not have done anything better with his Monday than visiting Minneapolis to talk to citizens about stemming the tide of gun deaths. He stated he didn't intend to wait for another Newtown in taking this fight to the people. Thank you, Mr. President, for acting like one.
One more thing: Gayle Trotter, a senior fellow at the NRA-allied Independent Women's Forum, also testified in front of the same Senate panel as LaPierre last week. How she could make the absurd claim that mothers need to protect their children from intruders with guns is beyond the reach of reason. It is pure right-wing fiction, since studies show that women are actually less safe with a gun in the house. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island tried to set the record straight with some facts, but Trotter wasn't having any of that.
Trotter's testimony goes to show that the enemies of a more peaceful public square remain ruthless. We more temperate Americans can't let them take Thomas Jefferson or James Madison away from us. We have to work harder to oppose their locked-in conviction, knowing that it won't be perfect or pretty (to paraphrase Baltimore Ravens champion Head Coach John Harbaugh). But we have to get on the field and engage. Obama has started the dialogue out in the open where it belongs.
My mother, a professor, made the Nixon enemies list. Do you think I just made the NRA's?