If you had to make a list of the top 10 people whose opinions on Martin Luther King Jr. you could have gone the rest of your life without hearing, I’m willing to bet that “NRA spokesman” might have made that list.
And for a good portion of your life, your wish would have been fulfilled.
But this is 2018, a time when the inexplicable is in full bloom, and so we have it that Dana Loesch, a professional bullshitter for the National Rifle Association, an organization that has fought vehemently to put guns in the hands of more Americans, decided to talk about how much MLK inspires her.
Yes, I’m talking about that Dana Loesch. NRA Dana Loesch. The woman who said that Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers deserved “a million cool points.” The woman who hasn’t lifted a damn finger to stop her supporters from attacking Black Lives Matter activists or the Parkland, Fla., students spearheading the fight for gun control. That Dana Loesch.
The entire video, which was posted online by NRATV, is an exercise in how much bullshit you can condense into four minutes.
Here’s a play-by-play:
Loesch opened by bringing up a recent article by New Yorker contributor Rich Benjamin: “Gun Control, White Paranoia and the Death of Martin Luther King Jr.” In it, Benjamin argues that the movements for civil rights and black liberation sparked paranoia among white Americans, prompting them to arm themselves. Benjamin also explores how gun culture exploits white nationalist culture.
Loesch, in a fantastic reach, sidestepped Benjamin’s entire argument and pointed out that Martin Luther King once sought a weapon for his own self-defense (technically, it was a concealed carry permit) and was denied.
This, according to Loesch, is an example of how the gun control movement is the real racism.
“Gun control’s roots are racist, let’s not forget that the first federally backed gun grab was that at Wounded Knee,” Loesch said, looking very pleased with herself for making such a good point. She then listed Dred Scott as another example of a black man denied his gun rights by a racist culture.
Dana, girl, this is true: America has always wanted to disarm people of color. It’s not technically incorrect to say “the roots of gun control are racist,” much in the same way it’s not technically incorrect to say the roots of education are racist, the roots of American agriculture are racist and the roots of government are racist. That’s what happens when you have a country founded on a racial caste system: The roots of this country, its institutions and its application of the law are going to be racist. But, I suppose, thank you for stating the obvious when it’s convenient for you, Dana.
Sigh. Moving on.
“He embraced nonviolence,” Loesch continued in the video. But what she really thinks people are forgetting, she continued, is that “spirit of nonviolence.”
“Have you noticed that people can’t even have a conversation without launching into ad hominem?” Loesch continued, as if that were at all on par with what MLK was fighting for—the right to not have his feelings hurt.
“People can’t even have a conversation without hoping something horrible happens to your family or you,” she added.
“Everyone wants to be right so bad that nobody wants to understand why they’re wrong and why it’s better for them, perhaps, to have a public engagement of ideas instead of screaming at everyone that you’re terrorists or murderers,” she said.
Loesch then said that what she learned from MLK’s movement was the kindness and grace he demonstrated, lauding the way the slain civil rights icon “[made] dramatic change without insulting anyone.”
Dana. DAY. NA. You really have no clue what MLK actually did or said, do you?
MLK regularly roasted America—and the change he sought was considered an insult to white Americans’ entire way of life. King never hesitated in pointing out his country’s hypocrisy and moral corruption, once referring to “the three evils of society” as racism, economic exploitation and militarism—does Loesch think the NRA falls outside of that evil trifecta?
Loesch’s message, delivered on the anniversary of MLK’s assassination at the hands of a white gun owner, was remarkable, given her own rhetoric. A recruitment ad she starred in on behalf of the NRA a year ago had her saying the following:
All to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia and smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding — until the only option left is for police to do their jobs and stop the madness. And when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage. The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom, is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.
Again, where does she think King would have been? Speaking in polite and demure tones on Fox News?
But this is typical of conservatives, and the NRA specifically—tapping into an arsenal of violent, aggressive messaging and then, when the tide turns against them or when they’re called out for their bullshit, equating that criticism with physical violence.
Still, now that the NRA wants to center conversations around racism and gun ownership, I can’t help wondering: Dana, is there anything further you’d like to say about Philando Castile?