The NRA’s Fraud: Fabrication of Second Amendment Rights
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The NRA’s Fraud: Fabrication of Second Amendment Rights
Download Huffington Post, free for iPad
The news that the proposed legislation has failed extending background checks to gun shows and internet sales is deeply disappointing. In the long run, though, the news may not be all that bad.
First, in the attempt to woo legislators on the right, the legislation was significantly watered down. Not useless by any means, but less than it needed to be. Moreover, the other parts of a reasonable gun safety agenda were dropped long ago. When the President says it was a day of shame in Washington, I’d have to say it has been at least four months of shame. The refusal to act in broad fashion to save innocent lives is a stunning example of how dysfunctional our government has become. While this particular failure on this particular piece of legislation is part of all that, it is a small part.
Second, even if this legislation passed in the Senate, it would have fallen in the House. There is no doubt about that. The victory would have been short-lived and hollow.
Third, it is becoming more clear that the extreme positions being taken by the right are not representative of the American middle. With 90 percent of all Americans supporting background checks, 90 percent of all Republican Senators decided to ignore the people’s will and instead bend to the NRA’s vicious agenda. I think we very well may see this play out again over attempts to pass reasonable immigration reform. While a gang of eight may come to agreement on some plan, the gang that runs the House is not likely to join the team. Our country must be governed from the middle and I believe the Republican Party is showing it has no interest in doing that.
In the long run, it is my hope that when the next massacre happens (and we all know it is coming), that the irresponsible behavior of those that oppose rationality has caught up with them and they are sitting at home rather than in our Capitol.
This Saturday, I will be hosting a dinner for the baseball teams of Oglethorpe University and Centre College after they complete a twin bill on our campus. They will have one final game to play Sunday afternoon before the team from Centre heads back from Atlanta to their beautiful campus in Danville, KY. Less than a year ago, Centre and Oglethorpe, along with six other highly respected liberal arts colleges in the Southeast, came together and formed an new athletic conference – the Southern Athletic Association (SAA). Sewanee, Rhodes, Berry, Hendrix, Millsaps, and Birmingham Southern are the other six. The eight Presidents who govern these schools began our first meeting, held even before the SAA became a reality, with a lengthy conversation about the principles by which we would be governed. We are part of the NCAA Division III and by that common affiliation, some of those principles are already established. Among the most significant of those is the rule that no athletic scholarships can be awarded to any of our students. In Division III, anyway, we continue to subscribe to the idea of the student-athlete, where the student part of that equation really does come first. But we all agreed that simply adhering to the covenants of our division wasn’t sufficient for what we intended. It was our collective desire that we build a conference of like-minded schools that from start to finish, from recruitment to graduation, insisting upon the ideal that out student-athletes were to be no different and treated no differently than our student-actors or our student-musicians or our student-researchers.
One of the ideas that we began to experiment with is to bring our teams together during a weekend of competition for food, fellowship, and education. This Saturday evening will be our first formal attempt at this at Oglethorpe. I am hoping we will split the double header to keep things balanced, but heck, if we win two, I am good with that as well. I have designated myself as the inaugural keynote speaker. As a former collegiate athlete, I have a keen appreciation for just how long these guys will want to hear me talk after playing all day. That would be about 45 seconds, but I plan to try to keep their attention for a bit longer than that. I have chosen as my subject matter the letter “P”. “P” as in Paterno, Petrino, Pitino. Pearl (that would be Bruce), and now Pernetti (as in the Rutgers Athletic Director). Admittedly, all of the bad behavior of these men happened in big-time Division I athletics, but there are lessons to be learned for us, even from the big boys. There are lots of platitudes thrown around about participating in athletics: it builds character, teamwork, a healthy sense of competition. And, indeed, being an athlete can do all that. But today, intercollegiate athletics has been horribly corrupted and one is as likely to be exposed to bad characters and unethical behavior as you are to be taught all the good lessons of life. It’s up to our coaches and our athletes to be the standard bearers for all those good things. That will be my message Saturday night.
Lawrence M. Schall
4484 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta GA 30319
Make a life. Make a living. Make a difference.
So what do you talk about with a legendary basketball coach with over 900 wins who brought his team to your university for a Final Four practice? Carmello Anthony? Nope. His famous 2-3 zone? Nope. Gun control? Bingo! After Sandy Hook, Coach Boeheim was the one of first and most prominent Americans to speak out on the need for rational gun safety legislation and Nancy Cantor, Syracuse’s President, was among the early signers to our open letter by College Presidents For Gun Safety. So with one of the most important games in the history of Syracuse and in the career of its coach looming, here we were , with his team slamming down one massive dunk after dunk behind us, talking about politics in America. I liked Coach Boeheim yesterday. I love him today. Guess who I am rooting for?
>> Sent from my iPhone
The business page of Saturday’s New York Times featured a column by James Stewart titled “Refusing to be Late on Gay Marriage”. It told the story of Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’ chairman and CEO, staking out an early position on gay marriage a few years ago. While he was the first among CEO’s of major companies to speak out, he expected many others to follow in short order. Turns out, Blankfein was a lone wolf for many years, but this week, Goldman was one of more than 100 large corporations that participated in amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage. An attorney who prepared one of the briefs reported that just in the last week before the court deadline, the momentum to join exploded and companies had to be turned away. How the world is changing. Blankfein was quoted saying: I think people wanted to attach themselves to what may be the last great civil rights issue of our time.
Corporations have largely steered away from controversial issues like this one. Goldman Sachs lost at least one significant client when its chairman spoke out, but Blankfein continued to lead on the subject. “I wouldn’t normally speak out on something like this. People are only interested in what I have to say because of my position at Goldman Sachs, and I don’t believe it’s appropriate for me to express my personal views as being those of the firm. But, in this case, this is a business issue. We’re a people business. They’re the single most important thing to us. … We want to treat our people fairly and equally.” Not all of Mr. Blankfein’s colleagues in the corporate world agree. The shareholders of Exxon Mobil, for example, defeated a proposal last year to extend employee benefits to same-sex partners. But there’s no arguing that there’s been an amazing rapid shift in public opinion on this issue, even if some regions of the country are not there yet.
As I was reading Stewart’s column, I could not help be reminded of the recent open letter on gun safety which now has the leaders of over 450 colleges and universities standing in support of it. http://www.collegepresidentsforgunsafety.org I think most of the presidents who signed the letter would express sentiments that mirrored those of Lloyd Blankfein. We almost never speak out on public issues of this sort, but something was different this time. In this case, for us, gun safety is an issue which literally takes the lives of the children and young adults we are tasked with educating. More guns, including more guns on our campuses, will make us less safe, not more safe. And so hundreds of us have chosen to speak out. I think it’s fair to argue that we are a bit late to this issue. After all, more than 1000 children have been dying every month in this country from gun violence for many years. But like many in corporate America in regards to same-sex marriage, we are now in the game even if we arrived late. I do wonder, though, where are the collective voices of college and university presidents on same-sex marriage. Why have we not participated en masse in one of the briefs filed last week with the court?
I suspect that the majority of our institutions in 2013 provide benefits to same-sex partners. I certainly believe that as leaders of those institutions, most of us share Blankfein’s view that our faculty, staff and students ought to be treated fairly and equally without regard to their sexual preference. That’s the case I would think whether or not our personal beliefs align with those business and human resource practices. And so, I ask once again, why are we not refusing to be late on the most significant civil rights issue facing our country today?
On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we held a panel discussion at Oglethorpe sponsored by the Black Student Caucus titled “Color Blind,” focusing on what it means to be a Black student or professor at Oglethorpe. By my count, we had close to 75 attendees, which for our small school is a very healthy turnout.
While the constitutional questions at issue with the Voting Rights Act are certainly complex, the provisions being challenged have been upheld many times by the court. Sadly, I suspect the result may be different this time around. The most discomforting thing I read from the reports of the arguments is the assertion that fifty years after the passage of the Act, the need for extra vigilance to protect the rights of minorities to vote has gone away. I wish that were the case, but I know it is not. One doesn’t have to look any further than the state of Florida to see a still-ferocious attempt to limit the turnout of voters inclined to cast their vote a certain way. Shamefully, such practices are far too prevalent in many other states, northern as well as southern.
Historically, America has largely been a culture governed by the majority — racial, ethnic and religious. Not belonging to the majority is, at best, discomforting. At its worst, being a minority has meant enslavement, internment, imprisonment, deportation, persecution. While life in America these days is much improved compared to days gone by, we are still not the land of equal opportunity and justice that we like to think. A child’s economic future is still determined to an astonishing degree by the circumstance of his or her birth. Social mobility in the United States has diminished, income inequality has dramatically increased and one’s race, of course, is still an important factor in all this.
I attended every minute of Oglethorpe’s Color Blind panel discussion and didn’t say a word. I was there to listen and didn’t know what to expect. Two hours later, I left feeling even more honored to be the President of Oglethorpe than I was before I walked in. One phrase among many that stuck with me was this: “Race is everything and race is nothing.” It is everything because being Black in America, even at Oglethorpe, impacts one’s life each and every day. And it is nothing because in the end, one’s race can never be an excuse. Yet when asked whether the faculty and students of color felt like they had a voice on campus, every one answered in the affirmative. That’s an extraordinary thing for these students and faculty to feel.
I will never pretend that life at Oglethorpe somehow insulates our students and our faculty from the reality of living in America, but last evening, my belief that we do an amazing job here of facing that reality and talking about it in non-combative ways was re-affirmed. It was a very good night for Oglethorpe.
Both of our senators voted yes for the Violence Against Women Act passed in the Senate today, joining twenty-one other Republicans. Twenty-two Republicans cast a vote against it, including future bright star Marco Rubio. Go Georgia!! Now let’s see what our good friends in the House do.