Why the NRA Chief Mentioned Saul Alinsky
In his remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, National Rifle Association (NRA) chief executive Wayne LaPierre, railed against any imaginary effort to roll back the Second Amendment and gun control ownership as the “new socialist wave in America.” He then warned how if Democrats gained more elected seats in Congress “our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.”
As part of this rant, LaPierre (annual salary and bonus in 2015 was $5,051,249, according to Pro Publica, Feb. 22, 2018,. “National Rifle Association of America IRS Form 990 2015) also threw in the name of Saul Alinsky, the community organizer whose name has become associated with Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama.
In his address, according to CNN, LaPierre also criticized independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren and other high-profile Democrats, such as New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker.
“Socialism is a movement that loves a smear,” LaPierre said. “Socialism feeds off of manipulated victims.”
Seemingly out of nowhere, he said all the anti-gun protests are “in the Saul Alinsky strategy of sowing grievance and indignation to raise holy hell.”
He added later, “You should be anxious and you should be frightened” about the potential of another Democratic takeover of the House, Senate and White House.
He then went on to address the NRA’s enemies: “If you are a member of the leftist media or a soldier for the violent left, a violent criminal, a drug cartel gang member or a would-be terrorist,” he said, “hear this: You’re not going to win and you will not defeat us.” He also criticized the FBI.
Later, he said, “Think about it. The leftist movement in this country right now is enraged. Among them and behind them are some of the most radical political elements there are. Anarchists, Marxists, communists and the whole rest of the left-wing Socialist brigade.”
And to put some funding issues behind this, he also trotted out the right-wing nemesis and continued to vilify the “billions from George Soros” and the money from “a vast network of leftist organizations.” These are the tried-and-true demons of the right wing, and as usual, he was not specific on any of the dangers coming from these organizations.
So, why would the right-wing hero LaPierre mention a Chicago community organizer, whose roots were in social work and establishing community self-help programs, as part of any efforts to control assault weapons?
Dog Whistle the Jewish Guy
LaPierre has no interest in grass roots community organizing. Just the opposite. He works to have individuals tout the NRA propaganda line 100%, top down from the NRA’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.
In contrast, Alinsky (1909-1972) and community organizers “focus on building social organizations, expanding their membership base, raising questions or alternatives, developing sound organizing strategies, recruiting leadership, assisting with fundraising, running member meetings, and facilitating training sessions,” according to Wikipedia. Community organizers also have little money to work with.
Alinsky, a criminologist by training who was never a Socialist or Communist, has become the villain of the right since he was cited in the work of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
His record was intentionally distorted by the right-wing propaganda machine for a few reasons. First, Hillary Clinton wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley College, on organizing and cited his famous book, Reveille for Radicals . This put the community organizer in the cross hairs of the right wing.
Anti-Alinsky feelings were elevated when then-Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson intentionally lied about a key fact in the book. “One of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors, was Saul Alinsky,” Carson declared as the crowd booed. “Her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky … This was someone she greatly admired and that affected all of her philosophy subsequently.” And why is this bad? Well, Carson explained (erroneously), Alinsky dedicated his book Rules for Radicals to none other than … Satan himself!”
Now, invoking the name of Satan in a convention speech is serious, but Carson, the failed head of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump cabinet, never elaborated on how Satan fits into the picture.
In that same 2016 Republican Convention, Carson said: “This is a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are one nation under god. This is a nation where every coin in our pocket and every bill in our wallets says ‘In god we trust.’ So, are we willing to elect someone as president who has, as their role model, somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?” Carson asked. Again, the crowd booed.”
All this provides some background about the hatred of Alinsky and the right wing. The NRA and the Republican Party believe in top-down control and absolute allegiance. Alinsky offers the opposite, grass roots community organizing and democratically elected representatives to empower individuals to convey their preferences and priorities up the ladder to elected officials.
The NRA now represents the nationalist movement that was elevated with Trump and the Russian influence. (The NRA spent $30 million on advertising and other campaign materials in support of the Trump campaign.) Throwing in the name of Alinsky, an obviously Jewish name, caters to the white nationalists. It was not thrown in by LaPierre without knowingly appealing to that group. This happened in a national audience attended by police, the FBI, federal and state officials, many of whom let the comment and context go unnoticed.
The NRA also did not discuss its role in the current Russia election meddling investigation.
In a Newsweek article, Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, the Washington DC research company which commissioned former British spy Christopher Steele to compile the notorious dossier alleging Trump’s links to Russian intelligence, alleged that Russian agents had penetrated the NRA. He said this in testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in November 2017.
“It appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA,” Simpson told the panel, in a since released transcript. “It appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations. And they targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA.”
But more people now know that while the NRA cloaks itself in God, national purity, unlimited gun access, and the flag, it is building the alternative reality in which more guns, blind hatred of anyone it deems an outsider, and tribal fear help it raise millions of dollars for arms manufacturers.
Ominously, on the NRA’s web site, it boasts that “The NRA Is Closer Than You Think.” Sadly, this may be true unless people act against it.