Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Let's face it, the NRA is just shy of being a terrorist organization

Before you get mad, remember that she has a good side too. For instance, she utterly destroyed the DNC’s credibility among her party’s base while chairman.

How many of us can say we’ve done something as virtuous as that for America?

It’s fun to compare this rhetoric to Democratic rhetoric about groups that actually are terrorist organizations:

“The NRA is kind of just shy of a terrorist organization,” Schultz told HuffPost. “They have done everything they can to perpetuate the culture of violence that we have in our country with the spread of assault weapons across the nation.”…

She also rebuffed [Oliver] North’s contention that the pressure the NRA now faces has “never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” and is worse than “the terrible days of Jim Crow.”

“The Jim Crow laws actually resulted in the deaths of people standing up for their rights,” said Wasserman Schultz, who headed the Democratic National Committee from 2011-16. “People that are dying as a result of the infection that is the spread of assault weapons thanks to the NRA are being murdered in cold blood without any cessation or interest on the part of the NRA to do anything about it.”

I’ll leave it you to offer the obligatory “culture of violence” counterpoint on abortion. Phil Klein took me aback this morning with this tweet, which is somehow both surreal and plainly true, at least among the left’s activist ranks:

I don’t know if that’s fair to say of Wasserman Schultz specifically but if you follow the activist chatterati on Facebook or Twitter you know it’s true in the aggregate. Traditionally Klein’s point would manifest mainly in terms of tone: The fangs would come out for gun owners after a mass shooting whereas denunciations of Hamas after an attack would be more perfunctory, but there was at least a tacit conceptual distinction made between an eliminationist jihadist outfit as “terrorist” and a guy with an AR-15 at home and no police record as … not terrorist. That distinction isn’t made much anymore. Hamas’s terrorist nature no longer seems to matter to Palestinian sympathizers, and after so many horrendous mass shootings over the past year, the fact that gun owners are overwhelmingly law-abiding also no longer matters. As one liberal replying to Klein this morning said, “Hamas isn’t likely to shoot my kids in a grocery store, you guys are.” You guys are.

People are forever bickering over how to define “terrorism” (e.g., the deliberate targeting of civilians) but I think the shift in this case has less to do with definitions than with raw politics. When you call someone a terrorist, functionally you’re saying that they can’t be reasoned with and therefore there’s no political accommodation to be reached with them. They’re a violent enemy; they need to be destroyed, not “assimilated into the political process” or whatever. Viewed that way, of course liberals are more prone to seeing the NRA and gun owners as “terrorists” than they are Hamas. It’s widely accepted, or at least assumed, that any settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will require concessions on both sides. Hamas isn’t going to be destroyed, it’ll be absorbed in one way or another. On the other hand, Democrats seem to be increasingly open to draconian confiscatory solutions on guns, starting with semiautomatic rifles but maybe not ending there. They’re not in a “let’s haggle over precisely what features make an ‘assault weapon'” frame of mind anymore. They’re in a “only getting rid of all guns will prevent dead children” frame. All of that being so, who are they more likely to view as “terrorist”?

Needless to say, casual “terrorism” rhetoric about fellow Americans a la Debbie Downer is the polar opposite of the left’s endless civility scolding after the Gabby Giffords shooting years ago. The lesson after that horror, supposedly, was that the right’s demonization of its political opponents was destined to plant a seed in unstable minds to act violently towards its targets. The Giffords shooting ended up having nothing to do with politics (whereas the targeting of Republican congressmen during baseball practice last year did), but you can see here just how hollow and disingenuous progressive lecturing was at the time. The former head of the DNC is now throwing around “terrorist” blather at a gun-rights group. Eventually someone will take that to heart and try something violent to stop them, since that’s what one does with terrorists, after all. I don’t think Wasserman Schultz should be blamed if that happens. But I’m curious: Does she?

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David Strom 5:21 PM on December 09, 2022