Have I mentioned that my wife works part time at a local gun shop? Well, she does, and that’s how we came to be invited to an Arizona Friends of the National Rifle Association auction and banquet.
One of the speakers was Scott O’Grady, the USAF Reserve F-16 pilot who was shot down over Bosnia in 1995. Mr. O’Grady left the Air Force shortly after his brush with fame, enrolled in divinity school, and is now a preacher. He was invited to the NRA banquet to give the invocation . . . a strikingly Christian, Protestant, evangelical invocation . . . one would have to assume there were no Catholics in the room, or, God forbid, Jews. Anyway, we now know Scott was rescued by the divine personal intervention of Jesus Christ, not US Marines. I suppose if you asked him, though, he’d deny that Jesus Christ personally stuffed that SA-6 up his ass.
I was still on active duty when all that happened. The fighter pilot community’s a small one and there was plenty of talk. As I recall, O’Grady and his wingman were flying less than 1,000 feet above a solid undercast layer with their radar warning receivers and jamming equipment off. This would be something like driving 120 mph in a 65 mph zone with your Escort unplugged and your rear-view mirrors taped over, so you wouldn’t know the cop was there until he rammed you from behind.
Scuttlebutt had it that General Fogleman, the then-USAF chief of staff, was furious over O’Grady’s incompetence and personally saw to his early retirement. The happy-times publicity resulting from O’Grady’s rescue was inevitable – we needed any good news we could get in those days – but as soon as decently possible he was eased out of the service.
There were other speakers, but none as . . . interesting . . . as Scott O’Grady. I expected to hear some inflammatory anti-liberal rhetoric, but all we got were a few ritual slams against Clinton (did you know that if it weren’t for the dedication and hard work of loyal NRA members, we’d now be in the 15th year of the Clinton/Gore administration?), and a very weird discussion about the confiscation of firearms in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina . . . weird because at first I thought they were talking about taking guns away from negroes, but it turned out they were talking about taking guns away from whites.
And that’s what turns me off about the NRA, at least the NRA I see depicted in the media and the NRA I saw last night: poke almost any NRA member with a sharp pin, and all sorts of racist, millenialist, religiously intolerant bile starts oozing out. Threaten to take guns away from blacks, Mexicans, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, gays, lesbians, and registered Democrats, and I don’t think the majority of NRA members would be all that het up.
I’m not against the idea of a citizen advocacy group supporting the Second Amendment: I value the right to keep & bear arms. But I also value free speech, a free press, and the right to assemble; freedom of religion; the sanctity of my home; the right not to be forced to incriminate myself; in short, everything enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
I’m glad there are citizen advocacy groups lobbying against attempted governmental restrictions on constitutional rights. Groups like the American Motorcyclist Association and American Civil Liberties Union, for example, both of which I belong to.
I wish there were more blacks, Mexicans, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, gays, lesbians, and registered Democrats interested in joining the NRA to protect their Second Amendment rights – the NRA would be a better organization for it.
© 2007, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.