Someone described Wayne LaPierre (surely you know him by now) as a lying lunatic. I have no doubt he is a liar, in fact it would be virtually impossible to believe he is not a liar, but a lunatic? That raises a most interesting question that I think is much broader than the individual case of LaPierre. In his particular case, however, whether he is a lunatic or not hinges on whether or not he actually believes the pig pucky he routinely mouths, or whether he has another motive for saying it, which he probably does. Rather than describing him as a lunatic it might be more accurate to describe him as a marketing genius because he truly DOES SELL GUNS, and lots and lots of them. By promoting fear and helplessness to a gullible public he makes them believe their only chance to survive the collapse of civilization as we know it is to buy and have more guns, the more the better, and the more powerful (and expensive) the better. Going by the reports of gun and ammunition sales in the past couple of years you have to admit he is unbelievably successful at what he does.
Probably the best example of this is in the strange case of assault rifles. It is being reported that we might actually manage to get universal background checks, in spite of LaPierre’s objection, but we are unlikely to get a ban on assault rifles. I find this extremely interesting given the fact there is absolutely no genuine reason or need for any ordinary citizen to need such a weapon. But as this is true, and it is also true there is such resistance to giving up such unnecessary weapons, one can only conclude the motivation for this is fear, fear of government. I suppose you could argue people like to use them for target practice (as they have no other practical use) but that is a feeble argument at best . They are not used for hunting and serve no useful purpose. There is no point in having one…except to presumably protect yourself from your government, a threat that of course does not even exist. It is based purely on the propaganda that has been promoted for years by those who know that fear is a great motivator and if you can keep the public fearful enough you can get them to buy guns, and more guns. I suspect we have Saint Ronnie to thank for this completely irrational fear as he assured us “government is the problem,” read “enemy”). As assault rifles serve no useful domestic purpose, other than killing policemen and miscellaneous civilians including children, you might think citizens would quite rationally agree to give them up. But fearful people are not rational and thus fall prey to LaPierre and his gun manufacturing sponsors. I (foolishly I suppose) would have thought it much easier to get an assault weapon ban than universal background checks.
But the problem of distinguishing lunacy from other motives is not found only with respect to LaPierre and the problems of gun violence. It seems to be involved in other aspects of politics as well. I think it is one of the reasons President Obama has had so much trouble trying to get any form of bipartisanship from Republicans. I don’t think he ever believed that any American politician would behave in ways that are contrary to the national interest. He has now learned after four bitter years of experience that Republicans have had no interest whatsoever in the national interest and have consistently put personal and party interest ahead of public or national interest. From the standpoint of our national interest this can easily be seen as lunacy. How is Obama to know if his Republican opponents actually believe the nonsense they spout endlessly or if they are crazy enough to believe it. This has become a genuine problem in the past few years because members of the Tea Party rather routinely take positions one can only assume are truly loony. Do they really believe the nonsense they peddle or do they do it for other reasons (like to bring down Obama, he’s Black, you know).
So how do you separate the crazies from the others? How can you be certain? What can you do about it in any case? In some other more authoritarian nations such people might well end up institutionalized, shot, or even “disappeared.” Here we can only wait until the next election and then hope for the best, and now that gerrymandering has been so successful for Republicans there may not be a “best” for quite a while. I don’t believe LaPierre is a lunatic, I think he is a lying, evil, money grubbing, unconscionable shill for an equally disreputable and disgusting gun industry willing to sacrifice innocent lives for profit.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?