In Anne Laurie’s post earlier today, one of the embedded tweets is from Adam Weinstein. As is the case for those doubly blessed to be named Adam and from Florida, he asks an excellent question:
A thing I don’t get about Maria Butina: Did it not seem weird to all these GOP and NRA politicos that a gun-rights activist from Russia, where the government severely limits gun rights, was so well-connected to movers and shakers in the anti-gun Russian government
— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) December 13, 2018
While Mig Greengard’s response below was good, I think there is, if not a better explanation/answer, a complementary one.
Of course not, and with good reason. 1) They only cared about the money. 2) The Putin regime isn’t against guns *in America*, but really only cared about the NRA as a conduit to the GOP and Trump, which the NRA likely understood and ignored due to point one. https://t.co/35JkhwoK4f
— Mig Greengard (@chessninja) December 13, 2018
As some of you are aware, I have something of a hobby of staying current with the “armed intelligentsia”. This is a combination of two things. The first is they do really good gear reviews for outdoors equipment. The second is left over from my early, first career in academia where I did comparative research into domestic American extremists, contrasting them with those in other countries. These days I’m just largely interested in how Americans understand the history of and around the 2nd amendment and how it has changed over time. As I’ve indicated several times in comments, the best real history book on the topic is Saul Cornell’s A Well Regulated Militia. I also highly recommend his edited volume dealing with the history of modern American 2nd amendment jurisprudence. However, if you want to see what gun enthusiasts – from sport shooters to hardcore 2nd amendment absolutists – you need to read the comments. It may come as a surprise to some people reading this, but it is amazing what people will write and post as a comment when using a pseudonym. I know you’re all just shocked, shocked that such a thing could happen…
I’m not looking to pick a fight with anyone, but here are the links to the heaviest trafficked firearms website/blog on the Internet and how they covered Mariia Butina, her organization Right to Bear Arms, and gun rights/issues in Russia. Take a gander into the comments, do you notice anything? A lot of wishful thinking about how “the natural, civil, and constitutional” right to keep and bear arms might just be catching on and spreading to Russia. The truth is it isn’t. But what these comments tell provide us with an answer to Adam’s excellent question. It points us back to what Rick Perlstein wrote about several years ago in The Baffler (emphasis mine).
It would be interesting, that is, to ask Coulter about the reflex of lying that’s now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA—and to get her candid assessment of why conservative leaders treat their constituents like suckers.
The history of that movement echoes with the sonorous names of long-dead Austrian economists, of indefatigable door-knocking cadres, of soaring perorations on a nation finally poised to realize its rendezvous with destiny. Search high and low, however, and there’s no mention of oilfields in the placenta. Nor anything about, say, the massive intersection between the culture of “network” or “multilevel” marketing—where ordinary folks try to get rich via pyramid schemes that leave their neighbors holding the bag—and the institutions of both evangelical Christianity and Mitt Romney’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And yet this stuff is as important to understanding the conservative ascendancy as are the internecine organizational and ideological struggles that make up its official history—if not, indeed, more so. The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.
The conservative movement, and the political party that it is currently attached to, have so closed their informational system – from what sources are acceptable to what information is automatically deemed incorrect – that they are basically propagandizing themselves at this point. They only speak to each other, whether it is on Fox News, talk radio, social media, comments sections, what have you; they have imbued the language and terminology of American civic discourse with a special meaning that only really makes sense to themselves; and, as a result, they are susceptible to a variety of grifts. Once you’ve convinced yourself that the real reason for the 2nd amendment was to explicitly enumerate the natural and civil right for self defense – against both individuals and the state – in order to protect and safeguard all the other enumerated and unenumerated rights, you’ve also made yourself susceptible to believing that everyone else should be doing this too. And so when a somewhat attractive young woman shows up and tells you that a movement to establish the right that you think is the most important is taking root in Russia, you’ve already set yourself up to buy into the con. Because all of the resources that would quickly disabuse you of this notion are outside of the informational sources that you have been conditioned to find acceptable, all of the actual information that could be used for a reality check is going to be ignored, if it was even looked for at all. This is why Ben Carson thinks the 2nd Amendment has something to do with the Holocaust. It doesn’t. It is why the “armed intelligentsia” is convinced that Israeli teachers are armed. They’re not. The reason that conservatives in general, and the 2nd amendment absolutist community in specific, fell for this Russian active measure is that like with so much else, they’ve conned themselves.