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At his famous "man in a glass box" trial in Israel, Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann tried to explain how a whole nation went insane during the 1930s and 1940s. "Germans," he informed his captors, "lack civil courage."
One of the most unexpected and disheartening discoveries I made as a youth is that there are different kinds of courage. A man who shows admirable valor on the battlefield, for example, may be paralytically unable to talk to women. Similarly, in a world where people often say they would rather die than make a speech, and the terror invariably first or second on their list is of personal confrontation, the same warrior-type may be unable to stand up to the pressure of political processes.
I've seen the latter many, many times, most recently when the National Rifle Association cooperated with some of the nastiest, most notorious advocates of victim disarmament -- congressvulture Carolyn McCarthy, that blood-sucking scavenger of the dead for one -- to "tighten up" provisions of the highly-illegal Brady Law. Passed by the congress on an unrecorded voice vote, HR 2640, the "NICS Improvement Act" drags us not just another notch closer to national firearms registration, or even worse, to a national registry of firearms owners, but to a Big Brotherhood in which everything an individual does can be monitored and scrutinized electronically by jackbooted thugs.
There can be no doubt that we are now living in a police state -- albeit an extremely well-upholstered police state, at least for the time being -- and that the National Rifle Association, in its usual, typical, dimwitted, bumbling eagerness to ingratiate itself with that police state's architects, has just made the police state immeasurably worse.
No, I'm not repeating myself to no purpose. There is a method to my madness. I want all my readers to get accustomed to that expression "police state", as in, " .. and to the police state for which it stands ... "
We are also living in an age of failed and failing institutions, where nothing is as it's advertised -- to the extent that it ever was -- and where, just to name a single example, even the Boy Scouts of America are torn between cruel bigotry and a nauseating political correctness.
We live in a culture where the Congress has given away its legal right and duty to declare -- or to refrain from declaring -- war, and the military that liberated Europe in two successive world wars, that distributed food and clothing and chewing gum to starving kids, now massacres entire neighborhoods, and terrorizes and tortures helpless prisoners.
We live in a culture where newspapers have long since abandoned their sacred Jeffersonian role in perpetual opposition to the all- devouring state, where the broadcast media will eagerly prostitute themselves to whatever purpose the government wants to use them, and where wealthy and powerful corporations collaborate with murderous slave-regimes to deny people their right to communicate freely with one another.
We live in a culture where the two major political parties have, for all intents and purposes, merged into a single monstrous entity whose only desire it to place its boot on our necks and rip away everything -- our rights, our property, our lives -- it can get away with.
We live in a culture where even the Libertarian Party harbors snivelling, worm-tongued poseurs who make limp excuses for fascist tyranny and brutality, and where the organization that has celebrated itself -- for more than a century -- as the foremost defender of the individual right to own and carry weapons, bows, scrapes, and kowtows to the second-worst scumbags in the nation's corrupt and collapsing capital.
"I don't know," writes one of my more naive correspondents, "why the NRA is supporting the McCarthy NICS expansion bill as it is currently written, but it doesn't make them the enemy." Actually, it does make them the enemy. How can we hope to win our liberties back if we remain loyal to organizations that have long since ceased to deserve loyalty? Or if we refuse to judge individuals and institutions by what they actually do, not by what we think they are, or ought to be?
This is precisely why we have more than 20,000 illegal gun laws today. This craven, quivering collection of cowardly Quislings signed off on Thomas Dodd's Nazi-inspired 1968 Gun Control Act. But that was nothing: if they'd gotten their way in the 30s, the .357 Magnum would be against the law today because they were willing to bargain it away. It's long past time -- it's decades part time -- to amputate the NRA, necrotic Republican appendage that it is, from the American body politic.
I've been a Life Member of the NRA since the 70s, and until now, I've refrained to do something that perhaps ought to have been done a long time ago. When I was young, members of my generation opposed to military conscription and the war in Vietnam publically burned their draft registration cards in protest. (Being a libertarian even then, I burned my Social Security card -- but that's a story for another day.)
Those who own and operate the NRA (and I am not talking here about its members, whom the leadership simply regards as warm bodies to be counted) should think long and hard about how they'd like to see a national campaign of membership card burnings. It would be as simple to organize as an Internet "flash mob", and the media, of course, would eat it right up. The disgraceful recent conduct of the NRA has now brought that group to within an Angstrom unit of that horrible eventuality.
Which way will their next steps take them?
A fifty-year veteran of the libertarian movement, L. Neil Smith is the Author of 33 books including The Probability Broach, Ceres, Sweeter Than Wine, And Down With Power: libertarian Policy In A Time Of Crisis. He is also the Publisher of The Libertarian Enterprise, now in its 17th year online.
Visit the Neil Smith archive on JPFO.
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