Human Events is one of the oldest and most establishing conservative journals in the country. Newt Gingrich is a regular contributor. So are Pat Buchanan, Chuck Norris, and a number of the Right's other luminaries. In today's violence-laden atmosphere, why are they letting their work be used to promote gun giveaways and implied calls to vigilante acts?
As the incidents of right-wing gun violence mount up -- murdered Unitarians in Knoxville, cops shot dead in Pittsburgh, a doctor gunned down in Kansas -- the magazine continues to distribute email ads for "free guns" offered by a "millionaire patriot" who "wants YOU armed and trained ... for what's coming."
"3,000 Handguns Almost Gone!" the latest ad reads. We're told that "Dr. Ignatius Piazza" -- the reputed millionaire -- "Pays His Own Money So YOU Get a Free Handgun Plus 5 Days of Training and a 30 State Concealed Weapons Permit for Pennies-on-the-Dollar!"
Email ads from Human Events are usually of the less lurid variety, like "The Ultimate Man Knows the Three Basic Baseball Pitches. Do You?" (I pitched a pretty mean slider back in the day myself.) There are quite a few quack medicine cures: "If your joints still hurt, read this now." "The 7 Great Diabetes Lies." "The Ultimate Man Knows Ben Franklin's 13 Rules of Improvement."
Then there's my personal favorite: "The Ultimate Man Knows How to Fight Off an Alligator: Do You?"
But the spiritual stepsisters of Dr. Piazza's ads are the editorial emails from Human Events or its political bedfellows and advertisers, messages that distort Democratic positions, suggest the presence of a religious war in our country, and question the legitimacy of the U.S. government itself:
- "Obama Do Not Need No Stinking Birth Certificate"
- "Is Obama Right? 'We're No Longer a Christian Nation'"
- "Judiciary Promotes Obama's Anti-Jesus, Pro-Allah Judge"
- "Chuck Norris: 'Got Your Permit to Study the Bible?'"
- "Why Aren't Scientists Allowed to Believe in God?"
- "Sen. Harry Reid: 'Punish Pastors, Protect Pedophiles'"
That latest piece, by Navy Pastor George Klingenschmitt, says "quoting the Bible in church will be punished" and "pastors will not be protected by the First Amendment." It calls the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act the "Protect Pedophiles Act" and says that it would require U.S. Marshals to "protect 547 acts of sexual deviance," including pedophilia, necrophilia, zoophilia, coprophilia, and "fronteurism" (defined as "a man rubbing against a unknown woman's buttocks"). Besides being flatly dishonest (and from a pastor, no less!), it's a highly inflammatory work designed to convince readers that the full force of the U.S. Government will soon be put to use enforcing unwanted sexual invasions of children, strangers, and animals.
Is that much of a stretch to suggest that, having stated the extreme emergencies we now face, Human Events is also inviting Dr. Ignatius Piazza to help us fight back ... by any means necessary? We "want YOU armed and trained ... for what's coming ..."
It's possible that the entire Piazza ad campaign is a come-on, of course. Links direct you to "The Frontsight Institute," where I suspect that a slick cash-extrication scheme is soon presented to gullible gun seekers. But either way, this is a dangerous and highly violent pitch.
Human Events does include its usual advertising disclaimer with the gun ads. This standard language reads in part: "From time to time, we receive opportunities we believe you as a valued customer may want to know about. Please note that the following message does not necessarily reflect the editorial positions of Human Events." But what would have happened if, say, The Nation had started running "gun giveaway" ads immediately after George W. Bush became president?
I subscribed to the Human Events mailing list to understand what the mainstream Right is thinking, not to write an exposé . I've engaged in friendly email exchanges with its contributors in the past. I respect Newt Gingrich's work on health care, even though I disagree with most of his conclusions. (I also met Chuck Norris many years ago, when I was working at Francis Coppola's post-production studio. He was the only celebrity who ever came by the kitchen and thanked the workers for their help. Nice guy ...)
I miss the days when we could engage with civilized conservatism. These ads from Human Events seem to reflect in microcosm the descent of the entire conservative movement into lurid extremism tinged with incipient violence. Forgive the cussin', but what the hell is happening over there on the Right? Why aren't Gingrich, Norris, and Buchanan saying this is not the movement we want, that they refuse to be associated with smears, lies, and implicit violence? Here's a question for those three individuals, and for the editors of Human Events:
"The Ultimate American knows how to lead a high-minded opposition. Do you?"
RJ Eskow blogs when he can at:
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