• National Association for the Advancement of Colored People;
• National Council of La Raza;
• National Urban League;
• National Spinal Cord Injury Association;
• Southern Christian Leadership Conference;
• U.S. Catholic Conference;
• United Methodist Church;
• United Church of Christ;
• U.S. Conference of Mayors;
• and the YWCA of the USA.
I ask this in all seriousness: Who's left?
Because the list includes just about every major American faith group and denomination, every major ethnic group and voter constituency. And adding the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and National Spinal Cord Injury Association to the list of anti-gun enemies is either clueless or callous -- or both.
One of my favorite lyrics by U2 says: "Choose your enemies carefully, 'cause they will define you." The NRA, like too much of the conservative movement, has chosen its enemies indiscriminately and seems defined in opposition to most of modern America.
This is a byproduct of polarization, the cultlike expulsion of any dissenting voices and preoccupation with ideological purity.
In the case of the NRA, this is reflected in its reversal on policies it supported in the past, such as gun-free school zones and universal background checks. But it is also reflected in tone-deaf speeches such as the ones recently delivered by Wayne LaPierre, or the truly out-of-touch television ad the NRA produced calling President Barack Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for having the Secret Service guard his two daughters at school.
The essence of evangelism is winning converts -- but that goal can be easily forgotten when you're preoccupied with playing to the base. Reasonable advocates of Second Amendment rights are being ill-served by the organization's recalcitrant radicalism -- reflected in the fact that 74% of NRA members say they support universal background checks.
Adding an indiscriminate enemies list to the NRA website only highlights its isolation, consolidating opposition among the figures mentioned and their fans.
As legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin -- also a Nixon enemies list alumni -- remarked when his name was found on the new NRA document, "Put me first on the list." This defiance is a very American response to such an awkward attempt to intimidate.
The NRA enemies list will backfire badly. And then maybe its absurd excess will provoke a needed re-set inside the organization, providing a timely reminder that the politics of addition are always more effective than the politics of division.
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