Revisiting John R. Lott, Jr., Hick Fascism, and Newtown Conspiracy Theory

While the NRA still appears to be in lockdown in the wake of the Newtown horror, John R. Lott has been making the rounds of talk shows, bravely arguing against gun laws (here he is on CNN, with Soledad O’Brien).

Media Matters has a better fact sheet on Lott’s many failings (his conclusions are based on surveys, not police records; some of the surveys appear to have not been conducted at all; his most enthusiastic reviewer turns out to be a person of his own invention) than I could ever put together–you can see it here. I posted about him in the wake of the Giffords shooting almost two years ago; you can see my earlier post here.

A long piece by Mark Ames, From ‘Operation Wetback’ to Newtown: Tracing the Hick Fascism of the NRA is a must-read for the light it shines on the NRA’s roots in American fascism. I didn’t write about Harlon Carter and the Minute Men’s Merwin K. Hart in The New Hate, but I easily could have. Here’s a quick taste:

Robert Jackson — the Nuremberg Trials prosecutor and Supreme Court Justice — singled out Merwin K. Hart as one of America’s most dangerous fascists on the eve of World War Two. After the war, Hart became a leading Holocaust denier. He also helped engineer Joe McCarthy’s election victory, and helped spearhead relentless attacks on “collectivism” (in which act together in politics and the workplace, rather than “individually” which is how the bosses prefer it), and against democracy, which Hart claimed was an alien Communist idea subverting American liberty. He proposed “that every person who accepted any form of government help should be denied the right to vote.” He also called for impeaching the entire Supreme Court, accusing the justices of being “dedicated to socialism.”

In place of democracy and “collectivism” and community activism, Merwin K. Hart promoted “individualism” and fear.

And that naturally led Merwin K Hart into promoting the sort of fanatical gun-politics that shocked the public in his time, but today is accepted as part of the mainstream discourse, as if NRA gun-fanaticism was always in the air, rather than a political project with political ends in mind.

In a 1948 newsletter to his followers later read aloud to shocked House committee members, Hart made a “concrete suggestion” to his members, calling on the head of every American home to “possess himself of one or more guns, making sure they are in good condition, that he and other members of his family know how to use them, and that he has a reasonable supply of ammunition.”

And just before he died in 1962, Merwin Hart organized fringe gun groups like the Minutemen — a Southern California gun-cult that claimed to possess hundreds of automatic weapons and had “information” of an impending invasion by Chinese troops massing on the Mexican border. Together, they successfully killed a bill that would require handgun registration. Hart used language too extreme for that era’s NRA: “Any congressman or senator who votes for the Anfoso [gun] bill knowing its real purpose would disqualify himself from ever again expecting to be called an American.”

And finally, there’s the inevitable conspiracy theory. Here’s an article that’s gotten a lot of attention. To put it in a nutshell, the fact that Lanza’s mother was a survivalist and a gun collector is not ironic at all–rather, it’s proof that the government set the whole thing up to discredit survivalists and gun collectors. The fact that Lanza was reported to be mentally disturbed explains how the NWO turned this innocent son of a survivalist into a Manchurian candidate–by mind-controlling him with Prozac.

Here’s the capper: Newtown USA is the perfect town. Everybody is happy there. It’s the best place to live. People are friendly. There is virtually no serious crime. It’s so safe. It’s Christmas season. Decorations have already been hung in the streets. It’s the wonderful holiday in the wonderful community. Everybody likes everybody.

What’s the takeaway?

If this horrible, horrible thing happened in Newtown, no one is safe in America, anywhere.

Who wants to promote that message?

The same people who promote the imminent threat of terrorism, in order to wipe out freedom, to install wall to wall surveillance of everything we do and say and write, 24/7, to remove guns from citizens, to increase dependence on government for life and survival.

Another “obvious” piece of proof is that the author of The Hunger Games lives in Newtown. Children killing children–get it? Evil conspirators always leave coded clues behind that explain who they are and how they work–otherwise no one would know about them.

Talking Points Memo runs down the stories that purport to connect Aurora’s Holmes and Lanza via their fathers to the Libor scandal.

7 thoughts on “Revisiting John R. Lott, Jr., Hick Fascism, and Newtown Conspiracy Theory

  1. Gun violence continues to escalate over time — and by this I mean the scale of atrocity, not merely the body count. Half of our nation’s worst shootings — i.e., on the scale of Columbine, Aurora, Newton, et al — have taken place in the last decade or so.

    Why is this?

    The answer is obviously complex, but to attempt to distance the proliferation of the arms trade in America from this question is insane. Clearly not every gun owner is out shooting random civilians but in a society where basic civility has been displaced by anonymity and vitriol, do we really want to link the notion of liberty to that of gun ownership? Of patriotism to the slaughter of schoolkids and movie goers?

    I like to think how our culture would appear to anthropologists ten thousand years hence when the United States no longer exists and our record of media and entertainment, with its how many violent gun deaths per minute, become the standard by which our thirst for violence is judged. How the NRA with its disingenuous political machinations aimed at propping up non-gun social and economic issues might be viewed with its role as the leading defender of the death industry… How instruments of destruction were sold for the purposes of preventing destruction caused by the instruments of destruction…

    How scholars and reasonable people from the future might look back at our primitive, deadly culture and ask, what were these idiots thinking? What well regulated militia was behind all those homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths?

    Questions we should be asking today.

  2. Generally good points made. But I have to say that I find the use of “hick” as offensive as the n word. As a person whose parents and grand parents would be categorized as “hicks” I find that the prejudices of people on the East Coast as ignorant as racist. And if you read the Hunger Games you would know that if anything the books are anti-violence and a condemnation of a fascist society.

    1. “Hick Fascist” might be an unfortunate phrase, but I don’t think Ames meant to imply that the NRA’s views are characteristic of rural Americans’ at large; quite the contrary. The point he makes is that in 1977 “the NRA was taken over by far-right fanatics” in a virtual coup.

      As for Hunger Games, the idea that there is any connection between the book, its author, and a “false flag” operation in Newtown is too ridiculous for words.

      1. Hick is a regional and class slur. There are far-right fanatics from Ivy League Schools, wealth and urban settings. Thanks for the understanding.

    2. The n-word actually donotes a racial slur and shouldn’t be in the same catagory as hick since it isn’t a racial slur. I would agree that generalizing a group of people really doesn’t speak to the issue. There are people who collect guns that don’t subscribe to “NWO” conspiracies, and aren’t racists, but there too many people who do. We can only point out how ridiculous they are in the public forum. Didn’t see Hunger Games or read the series of books. Not judging people who did though, but I have a healthy fear of an impending dystopia.

  3. Just for the record, I wouldn’t have used the word “hick” myself, anymore than I would use any other racial, class, regional, or sexual slur. But Ames’s account of how the NRA became radicalized and by whom is incredibly eye-opening to me–and it points directly to modern actors like the Koches (who of course also have their roots in the American right).

  4. Arthur, I have been having a debate on CNN concerning gun regulation. As almost always occurs, I immediately confronted the question of what could prevent tyranny and oppression by our government if citizens were not armed — including AR-15 assault rifles for U.S. citizens?

    This is the standard “second amendment remedy” argument, i.e. why couldn’t something like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc. happen here if citizens are not armed?

    My answer is copied below:

    The reasons why it cannot happen here are as follows:

    (1) The societies which you listed never had ANY experience with building and nurturing free societies. Consequently, perceived opponents were regarded as irreconcilable “enemies” not legitimate (albeit wrong headed) “political opponents”.

    De-humanizing and de-legitimizing human beings inevitably makes it possible to murder them or imprison them without remorse or mercy.

    (2) Democratic countries have numerous centers of independent political power and influence which prevent successful attempts to impose tyranny.

    (3) Historically, countries which have robust institutions (such as strong competing political parties and political organizations, labor unions, religious organizations, an independent media–especially THOUSANDS of newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio stations, TV stations, internet sites, business and trade associations, and an independent judiciary) have never succumbed to the type of tyranny, oppression, and contempt for human rights that your message suggests

    (4) In a free society (even an imperfect one), there are always people willing to speak out and challenge “corrupt absolute power” — and history has shown that they always ultimately prevail — EVEN WHEN they had little or no access to guns and they employed non-violent protest tactics.

    (5) I suggest you consult the research of R.J. Rummel regarding why democracies do not employ violence against political opponents or make war upon each other;

    See: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/PK.CHAP8.HTM

    As he points out:

    “We have seen that democracies not only do not make war on each other, but the more democratic two nations the less likely they will commit violence against each other. Moreover, the more democratic a regime, the less likely it will commit violence overall, have domestic political violence, or murder its own people.”

    Rummel’s research is the ultimate answer to your question. Take the time to read his findings.

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