As Susie has already noted, a number of pro-gun nutcases -- including gun-rights lobbyists like Larry Pratt, with actual influence inside the Beltway -- have responded to the atrocity at Sandy Hook with the atrocious argument that "gun free zone" policies caused the massacre, and that what we ought to be doing is arming our schoolteachers.
Yes, these people are evil. And insane. And unfortunately, they play a real role in our politics.
One of the realities about the right-wing gun lobby that has frozen politicians into inaction when it comes to dealing with the mass proliferation of guns and their attendant violence in America is that they in fact are only partially about guns. They really are broad-ranging far-right organizing vehicles, attacking liberal politics and policies on a number of fronts -- including taxes, the environment, abortion rights, and yes, education.
Indeed, their contribution to our national conversation about education largely consists of a steady flow of vicious rhetoric attacking public schooling and public schoolteachers. They usually depict them as incompetents and parasites, not to mention "socialists." Their broader, Randian politics constantly undermine public schools, from gutting their funding to perpetuating degrading perceptions of educators.
And no one is more prone to those vicious attacks than Larry Pratt, the longtime head honcho at Gun Owners of America, one of the most conspiracy-prone of all the right-wing gun orgs. Pratt was one of the originators of the militia movement of the 1990s, and he's still doing his best to pollute American politics with similarly toxic concepts.
I reported about Pratt's activities related to Tea Party organizing for AlterNet back in 2010, based in part on an appearance he made at a Tea Party event in Montana that year. (You can see the longer video I made at that event here.)
Here's what Pratt told that crowd:
You know, one of the big problems – I don't have to, this is not a news flash to anybody here – but one of the big challenges that we face in getting the freedom message across is what's happening in the schools. The schools are propagation, propaganda centers for the hard left. And kids are coming out not only ignorant of basic facts, but actually instructed that being an independent person and self-reliant is not the goal in life and that we ought to be a bunch of drones like in Europe.
I heard an example of this kind of indoctrination. Seems that this sixth-grade class was getting drilled by the teacher as she was asking, 'Well, how many people support President Obama?' And all the hands went up save Johnny's. And Johnny kind of stared back at the teacher. She said, 'You don't support President Obama?' He said, 'No ma'am.' 'Why not, Johnny?' 'Well, my daddy's a Republican, and my mama's a Republican, so I'm a Republican.' And the teacher said, 'Well, now Johnny, if your mama were an idiot, and your daddy were a moron, what would that make you?' [Pause] 'An Obama supporter.' [Applause]
That's just a little example, apocryphal as it was, of the little culture war we're in. And when I made a statement like this at an armed rally outside of Washington, it kind of exploded some of the media's head. Which is kind of why I want to repeat it again tonight.
What I said I think is perfectly obvious to everybody here, is that, we are in a war. It is a culture war. We're in a war, and the other side knows it, because they started it. And I would say it's only in the last couple of years that a lot more Americans on the other side, on the receiving end of the culture war, have come to the realization that, 'Eh! We're in a war!'
And what we're seeing is that we are facing socialism, pure and simple. They want our guns, of course – that's what every socialist regime has ever wanted to do. They want our kids, they want our money, they want our land – and we've already talked tonight about you can't even change your mind without getting a permit from the local authorities of some kind or another. That's not freedom. And we've already lost a great deal.
It will be interesting to see if Adam Lanza left behind an explanation for his inconceivably evil rampage. It will be even more interesting to see if his rationale, such as it was, springs from the same kind of thinking promoted by people like Larry Pratt.
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