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Mindless Marching

Mindless Marching

Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

This feature appears in the September ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.  

I attended the so-called “NRA2DOJ Women’s March” on July 14-15 at the behest of my executive producer, even though I would much rather have been reporting from Mogadishu or Mosul. Not because those places are any safer (certainly not), but because the older I get, the less I enjoy spending time with large groups of angry people.

But no job is perfect. That Friday morning dawned sticky and oppressive—appropriate, but not ideal for a protest that included marching 17 miles. By 10:30 there were several hundred people gathered on both sides of the street in front of NRA headquarters, watched over by dozens of police and even more journalists hoping for a great story. There were also about 15 NRA supporters present, holding giant counter-protest signs like, “The Second Amendment Protects the First.”

The signs on the other side were a mashup of every so-called “progressive” cause under the sun. Climate change, gay rights and the garden variety, “I’m so upset Trump won I could scream!” kind of people. There were also a bunch of black placards that just read “NO!” I remember seeing these during the January black bloc protests that resulted in lots of left-wing violence on the streets of D.C.

But there was no violence that Friday. It was too hot for such activities.

By the time the leaders of the protest fired up their microphone to take turns screeching, there may have been more than a few in the crowd who suddenly remembered they had other plans that didn’t include marching 17 miles. Two news helicopters circled overhead while march leaders Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and others played it up for the assembled “press” like CNN, Al Jazeera and Media Matters.

To hear them tell it, the NRA’s 5 million members hate minorities and gays, they want most children and women to die unnatural deaths, and as an organization, the NRA is gleefully supporting pretty much every societal ill our country faces.I worked my way into the crowd to hear what they had to say. The NRA was being excoriated for every -obia and -ism under the sun. To hear them tell it, the NRA’s 5 million members hate minorities and gays, they want most children and women to die unnatural deaths, and as an organization, the NRA is gleefully supporting pretty much every societal ill our country faces. I’m not overstating this. The gamut of things attributed to the NRA was mind-boggling.

Here were some of their talking points, in no particular order:

No one is safe until everyone is safe — A trite soundbite, but what does this even mean? The NRA has been the nation’s largest advocate for giving everyone the right to keep themselves safe since 1871 or so. Nobody has worked harder to make everyone safe from criminals.

We will fight! — This was a popular chant. But for a march that was allegedly conceived in response to the “violent rhetoric” of an NRA video (which was, in fact, condemning actual violence), this seems a little, well, hypocritical.

The NRA colluded with Russia to elect Trump — I don’t even know what to say to this as it’s just too stupid for words. The truth is, the NRA colluded with the American voter, and the American voter chose Donald Trump as president. You don’t have to like it. But carrying a sign that says “Hillary is my president” isn’t going to change anything.

The DOJ should be a humanitarian organization — In her speech the next day in front of the Department of Justice, Mallory said, “The Department of Justice wants to send more violence into communities that are already plagued with violence. Their answer to 102 shootings in one weekend in Chicago is to send police officers. But not to send jobs, food, housing, education. …” This perfectly sums up the lack of rational thinking that was on display at this march all weekend. Mallory says it’s a bad idea for the Department of Justice to send police officers to deal with crime. The Department of Justice is a law enforcement entity. Sending police officers is its best option.

Real men don’t need guns — This is my favorite. I guess the protesters marching with these signs are right, if they are talking about real men who are working on their cars or cooking a creme brûlée. By this logic, we could say “real men don’t need toilet paper,” because for 99 percent of their day, it’s not necessary. The truth is, sometimes real men do need guns. Like when a crazed jihadi runs into a gay nightclub and spends over an hour killing its patrons. Real men need guns when they are poor and live in the country, like some of my own relatives, who rely on the venison they harvest every year to keep their families fed. And real men need guns when they are tasked with protecting protesters who are pushing for the rest of us to give up our freedom. There were a few dozen “real men” standing in the street around the protest, quietly keeping their heads on a swivel, protecting the marchers’ rights to peaceably assemble.

As I listened to the speakers, I noticed they were ringed by some very imposing, serious-looking bodyguards. I watched them for a while, and it became clear that it was one more group of men with guns. They were carrying concealed, but printing through their sweat-soaked shirts.

Sarsour, Mallory and the rest of the leadership did what any sane person would do if they feared for their safety—they went looking for a gun. They didn’t want the trouble of getting permitted and trained themselves, however, so they spent some of the nearly $100,000 they raised for this march and used it to hire armed security for themselves.

That, my friends, is what is called “nuclear-level hypocrisy.” Real men don’t need guns? Apparently real women do.

Chuck Holton is a veteran Army ranger and NRATV correspondent.

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