Under Operation Cyclone from 1979 to 1989, the United States government provided financial aid and weapons to Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani mujahideen through Pakistan’s ISI, their intelligence service. This assistance was used to fight the Soviet Union in their invasion of Afghanistan.
Bin Laden established camps inside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan and trained volunteers from across the Muslim world to fight against the Soviet puppet regime, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. It was during this time that he became idolized by many Arabs. These camps and volunteers, became the genesis of al-Qaeda – the dreaded enemy of the United States.
Could anyone in the Reagan administration foresee the “unintended consequences” of this support to bin Laden and the Afghanis. Of course not. Unfortunately this was just another example of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thinking that has so often haunted countries and alliances for centuries. The world is not so “black and white” as this thinking would assume.
We may be witnessing another bout of “unintended consequences ~ only right here at home.
For advocates, it made perfect sense to pursue renewed gun control legislation, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. Twenty kids getting murdered, at school nonetheless, seemed the optimum backdrop for action.
As Congress began its pursuit though – things began to unravel. After four months, the only aspect of comprehensive gun reform that even made to a Democratic controlled Senate was a watered down bill for background checks.
When the dust settled, the bill was defeated, with five democratic senators voting against it. How can this be. Over 80% of the population was behind background checks, even a majority of gun owners.
But with the venom spewing NRA firmly entrenched in backside of virtually any senator or representative from the Midwest or South, it’s not surprising to understand the result.
One interesting number came out after the vote though. A number that’s was mainly overlooked by the mainstream media (what’s new). While 80% supported background checks, only 15% were truly upset that it didn’t pass. Support yes. Tepid support at best though. Contrast this with the NRA and it’s supporters. “The taking away of their guns” is paramount to them. No issue holds as much weight. I swear some would just as soon give up their kids then their guns. My next door neighbor here in Montana probably being one of them. I live around these people. There’s a fervor that’s religious.
I’m not passing judgement here. I’m just stating what I see and what I hear.
Last week the NRA held its annual meeting in Houston, Texas. Over 7,000 people attended, ready to get worked to words of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and of course, Wayne La Pierre, grand protector of the 2nd Amendment (at least their interpretation of it).
The conspiracy theories were flung high and wide. “The government was here to take our guns away and it’s Obama’s fault. If we give one inch … it’s the start down the slippery slope. After all, Hitler took the guns away. We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyranny of the government like we had to in two and half centuries ago.” That’s why we have a 2nd Amendment (or so they say).
This flaming rhetoric was to be expected, especially with the liberals’ recent attempts to reintroduce gun control. The new president of the NRA, James Porter, came out and said, “Revenge is what’s motivating the president’s unrelenting attacks on gun owners today.” Apparently this comes from the fact that Obama was elected largely because of urban and minority support. These are the people that were pretty much the opposite of those attending the conference in Houston.
Porter was preaching to the choir, and they heard the message.
But there was something else he said that stuck me. And again, it was something that while being reported, didn’t seem to warrant more than a cursory mention. Porter, declaring from his bully pulpit; “We are in a Culture War.” Culture War, what does that mean?
Traditionally, the NRA’s focus has been to thwart any advances in gun control, if not for the their membership of gun owners; then for their financial backers, the gun manufacturers. While this is definitely still their primary focus … could they be broadening their platform in pursuit of more backing and influence?
Image by L. Sean Key
The “Culture War” comment seems to indicate this. But what part of culture is the NRA ready to go to war with. A natural ally in their pursuit of domination would be the religious right, the evangelicals. For some reason … guns and God seem to go together like, as Forest Gump so famously said – peas and carrot.
If there is to be an alliance between religion and the 2nd Amendment, culture would be a natural crossroads. And in the cross hairs (excuse the pun), are Hollywood, immigration, gay marriage, and abortion and birth control rights. After all, all four of these contingents voted heavily for the black man in the White House.
If indeed this alliance formally comes to fruition, the war may very well be more than just culture. Just last week the FBI said they intercepted a potential terrorist plot by a white supremacist in Minnesota. He wasn’t a Muslim. He was a down home white boy! And I doubt he’ll be the first. We can’t assume religious and anti-political zealotry is limited to Islam. Take a look at the Westboro Baptist Church, or the Posse Comitatus. They use religion to justify their paranoid, racist, bigoted, anti-government actions. And these organizations are just two or many. The number of hate groups in the United States has increased over 60% since Obama became president. Whether it’s because of his race, the economy or something else – it doesn’t diminish the fact it’s happening. America is being more intolerant … intolerant of anyone not like us.
In fact, a recent national poll of registered voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind found that 29 percent of Americans think that an armed revolution might be necessary in the next five years - in order to protect civil liberties.
And now we have the NRA and their obsession with the infamous “slippery slope,” throwing gas on the fire. It appears it didn’t take much for the Boston Marathon bombers to go sideways and cause a national “freak out.” There’s plenty homegrown terrorists who’s hate is just as strong, only much better armed … just waiting a for something to light the fuse.
Gun control advocates, especially the clowns in Washington looking for television time, can continue to go head long with blinders on ~ into the abyss. I only hope they realize they are only giving ammunition to the NRA and their brethren to further their cause.
Even if they do win, and some sort of marginally effective controls are ramrodded through Congress … their victory is only that of a battle. For the war, or as James Porter says, the “Culture War,” has yet to begin. And we have to question whether our resolve will be equal of that of our adversaries.
For every action has unintended consequences. And the question is whether we are prepared to deal with those consequences.
This post is not intended to say I’m anti-gun control. On the contrary, I’m for stringent controls. I believe the true intent of the 2nd Amendment has been trampled on by the NRA and its supports. The purpose of this piece is true bring a little pragmatism and thought into the debate. This debate is not “black or white” and whatever the actions … they will be far-reaching.
I can be found on Titter at @clayforsberg and Google+ at Clay Forsberg