Between the moment on Friday when I first read Wikipedia’s article on the National Rifle Association’s top gun, Wayne LaPierre, which opened with a paragraph labelling him “nuts,” extraordinally, and the moment 45 minutes or so later when I revisited the page to quote what I had read verbatim, that article had been altered.
The word "nuts" had been removed. And something had been added: a warning against libelous or unsubstantiated claims.
How I wish I had copied that previous page now. But alas, I did not have the presence of mind. Perhaps I was too busy laughing.
But say what you like about LaPierre, the man is consistent. His mind will not be changed as easily as a Wikipedia article (sadly).
Perhaps his audacious consistency – which seems to make him unresponsive to the grief of bereaved Newtown, Conn., families - can be explained by some peculiarity of his own family tree.
Perhaps the English translation of his name – “the rock,” with its biblical links to the apostle Peter (Greek Petros) – may explain this career political activist’s fear-focused, petrified policies.
Today, like a “good guy” cornered by “bad guy” gunmen, LaPierre came out with both guns blazing, metaphorically, in defense of Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.
He seems to relish offense as defense, consistently.
He employed a similar strategy in a letter to NRA members following the Aurora, Colo., mass murder and shootings.
None of 61-year-old Newton, Conn., resident John Dewees’ regrets are for Mr. LaPierre.
During an event on Friday to mark the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a week ago in Newtown, Mr. Dewees is reported by Reuters to have said, "What I feel is a sense of guilt because I've been a strong advocate of gun control for years. I wish I'd been more vocal. You wonder, had we all been, could we have averted this?"
LaPierre, one suspects, might call such feelings bleeding-heart, liberal, Obama-exploiting nonsense.
The man who heads up the organization that endorsed Mitt Romney – as evangelical, gun-loving Christian minister Reverend Franklin Graham did – had in fact been actively campaigning against the incumbent President Obama before his re-election on November 6.
According to the Meet the NRA website (www.meetthenra.org) “In an NRA fundraising letter dated July 23, 2012, LaPierre wrote the following about the 2012 presidential election: ‘The night of November 6, 2012, you and I will lose more on the election battlefield than our nation has lost in any battle, anytime, anywhere. Or, we will win our greatest victory as NRA members and freedom-loving Americans … The future of your Second Amendment rights will be at stake. And nothing less than the future of our country and our freedom will be at stake.’”
It continues: “The letter was sent to NRA supporters just three days after a mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado. In that shooting, severely mentally ill gunman James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58 others in a span of two minutes. Holmes wore full body armor during the attack and was armed with three semiautomatic firearms. LaPierre made no mention whatsoever of the shooting in his letter.”
A selective epistle, one might say. But again, LaPierre is consistent.
He demonstrated the same selectivity in the NRA’s press conference today, when he punctuated the tributes to the 20 elementary-age students and six teachers who taught them with what may reasonably be described as a Nancy Lanza-esque refined rant against reason and decency.
Totally oblivious to or disregarding examples of how armed guards have been relieved of their firearms and had those firearms turned on themselves and others by previously unarmed persons, LaPierre called on the authorities in the US to place armed guards in all schools, contending that this is the best way to protect America’s children.
He also deselected or made no mention of how the government might deploy “good guys with guns” to stop the “bad guys with guns” who, possibly being deterred by the prospect of a gun battle on school properties, might resort to preying on America’s children in their homes, on school buses, in playgrounds, supermarkets, churches or at political retreats for youth leaders – as in Norway, not so long ago.
LaPierre is consistent.
And one cannot help but wonder where the man who graduated with a BA in Education from the Franciscan, Roman Catholic Siena College, derived his selective, innocence-deriding, freedom-confining, logic-sacrificing, fear-enthroning consistency.
Might it be ancestral?
Intriguingly, the name LaPierre is of noble vintage and therefore comes with its own motto: it is “Arme pour le roi” which in English means “Armed for the king."
But that makes a mockery of Lapierre’s protestations of Republican zeal.
Perhaps this essential contradiction is predictable, though, given this American champion of freedom’s apparent psychological imprisonment in a world where only armed adults can arguably be truly free.
Like the murderous young Lanza – whose Italian derived family name, means “lance," and therefore also evokes arms, incidentally – Lapierre’s education and intelligence seem to be superficially consistent, but radically (spiritually) contrary.
Reading the Wikipedia article about him a short time ago, after hearing the report of the twisted logic he sprayed like semi-automatic fire on the people of Newtown, all America and all humanity today, this writer was in fact reminded of the words of C.S. Lewis about where education without ethical or moral grounding tends to lead. As the Christian apologist put it: “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
I think Lapierre is more “strange fruit” than “nut." I think his arguably sociopathic logic is rooted in the guilt and fear of America’s superficial-prosperity-poisoned family tree.
Part of this toxic legacy, at least, is the sense, conscious or unconscious, among some white American males that the “ill-gotten gains” of their pioneering, American-Indian disenfranchising and African-American enslaving forefathers (and mothers) have to be conserved by any means necessary.
This is paralleled by the abandonment of virtue by some African American males, who apparently equate success with material symbols of prosperity – fast cars, fast women, big houses, several gold chains or (and this will baffle those who cannot distinguish the difference between offices we may hold and who we “be") a US Senate seat.
What is needed is a collective purging of America’s conscience, which can probably best be achieved with something along the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation process that Archbishop Desmond Tutu led in his country, South Africa.
Americans don’t need to be militarily armed anymore than they already are. They need to be armed morally.