Oliver North first came to prominence in American life as a member of Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council. When the U.S. sold weapons to Iran (illegally) in order to promote the release of American hostages in Lebanon, it was North’s big idea to use the money to support the vicious Contras rebels in Nicaragua. He got caught, and admitted to everything in order to avoid full prosecution.
He was in disgrace, but there’s nobody the right-wing loves more than some disgraced dude who did something approaching evil on behalf of the U.S. government, so he also became a cult figure for American nutjobs, which of course eventually landed him a job on Fox News. A few days ago, North, now 74, made his next big career leap—he will be the new president of the National Rifle Association.
It all makes sense, at least in the fever dream that is the American right wing today, and it also makes sense that he would make the bold move of attacking the activist students from Parkland as part of his first big charm offensive. Here’s North in his own words, in an interview with The Washington Times:
“What they did very successfully with a frontal assault, and now intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking, is they confused the American people,” he said. “Our job is to get the straight story out about what happened there, and to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again because the proper things are being done with the advocacy of the NRA.”
LOL. Here’s more:
“They can do all the cyberwar against us — they’re doing it. They can use the media against us — they are. They’ve gone after our bank accounts, our finances, our donors, and obviously individual members,” Mr. North said. “It’s got to stop. And that’s why the leadership invited me to become the next president of the NRA.”
That’s a pretty succinct mission statement, right? Cover up gun atrocities, attack anyone who dares use the first amendment to question the legitimacy of the second, and demonize any and all opposition.
The NRA has apparently decided that an aggressive stance is the only play here, and that making concessions to protesters and activists would only embolden them. They may be right—it’s hard to think of a time when the NRA has enjoyed less popular approval, and it’s clear that they’re trying to maintain their power by exploiting partisan divides between gun-owners and the real enemies like…David Hogg. How else can you explain this madness:
“They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said.
That was in direct reference to protesters who splashed fake blood on the home of an NRA official, but it’s clear the sentiment applies across the board. And he intends to “counterpunch”—his words—against people like the Parkland activists by recruiting new members and upping the organization’s membership by a million people.
Clearly, this move by the NRA is a blatant push for publicity at a time of waning influence, and it’s remarkable that the man they chose is essentially a convicted, unrepentant war criminal (three felony convictions were eventually voided by prosecutors). But in order to convince the world that the protesters are the real bad guys, I guess you need a leader who is a pretty bad guy himself. The NRA found one.