Photo: AP

The National Rifle Association named Oliver North—the Reaganite ghoul who was indicted in 1988 for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair—its new president this week. In an interview with the conservative Washington Times, published on Wednesday, North said his organization has been the victim of “civil terrorism” by gun control activists.

From the Washington Times (emphasis added):

“They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said.

“You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn’t have this kind of thing,” he said. “We didn’t have the cyberwar kind of thing that we’ve got today.”

Oh? What’s happening to the NRA today is worse than how civil rights organizations were treated in the Jim Crow era, you say? I must have missed the part where a church NRA members attended was firebombed, killing four young girls. I must have missed the news when former NRA president Wayne LaPierre was assassinated, after the FBI urged him to kill himself. (An NAACP chapter in Colorado Springs was bombed just three years ago, although thankfully no one was hurt.) But please, tell me more about what “civil terrorism” means to you, Oliver North.

North and his NRA colleagues like to talk big about how they’re like Rambo in the jungle, bravely defending their constitutional freedoms against liberal tyranny up until the point when they deem it politically expedient to play the victim. Then they are martyrs, besieged on all sides by “terrorist” activists.

North is right about one thing: There is a definite power imbalance between, say, a movement organized by a group of teens who survived a school shooting and one of the most powerful and influential political organizations in the United States—a group that just broke a 15-year fundraising record and enjoys the vocal support of the president of the United States.

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If there’s one thing reactionaries know how to do, it’s recasting their own privilege as persecution.