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Far-Right Rhetorical Co-Opt, Item 2

When the ACA provision that allowed the uninsured to receive insurance from government coordinated exchanges finally was on the verge of going into effect, the conservative think-tank FreedomWorks initiated a civil-disobedience campaign, of sorts. They tried to enlist masses of young people to reject the inexpensive and often government-subsidized insurance now available to them. But the Far Right needed a symbol that would make that rejection of the ACA not just visceral but newsworthy.

So Matt Kibbe, the CEO of FreedomWorks, came up with the idea that FreedomWorks should provide young people with “Obamacare cards” that they could then publicly burn in a public demonstration of their rejection of the new law.

But the gimmick never quite took off. Beyond the fact that it was incredibly contrived, it didn’t actually make any sense.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, draft-age Americans burned their draft cards in defiance of a war in Vietnam that they regarded as either unjust or unwarranted, or both. In short, they weren’t willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause that seemed already to have been a largely pointless waste of American lives. Regardless of what you may have thought of those who burned their draft cards, it was not a gesture without consequences. It was, in fact, a criminal act that the federal government took very seriously.

In contrast, Kibbe et al were encouraging a group that is one of the main beneficiaries of the ACA to reject it in order to serve a political agenda that had already proven incapable of derailing the full implementation of the law. So, those young people were being asked to risk their own already precarious financial solvency for the sake of a completely empty ideological gesture.

I don’t usually indulge in any sort of comment on a person’s appearance, but I feel compelled to highlight the irony that Kibbe, who described the ACA card burners as “the real change agents,” looks like a clone of Nixon’s chief of staff H.R. Haldeman.

Matt Kibbe

Moreover, Kibbe, who earns $322,000 per year and has a very generous benefits package, admonished his young and generally under-employed ACA protesters to reject the law as a mechanism for “income redistribution.”

Well, now we have a new permutation of this Far-Right co-opting of an action long associated with progressivism.

In Connecticut and New York, new laws require that the owners of assault-style weapons register those weapons. And, you guessed it, the Gun Lobby is trying to organize public demonstrations against the laws at which gun owners burn the registration forms.

Although these are actual registration forms, and not complete fabrications like the ACA cards, there is, again, no liability whatsoever in burning them. There are, undoubtedly, digital printable copies to be had at any number of Internet sites.

And, again, like FreedomWorks, the Gun Lobby is not going to have to pay the fines when the owners of those weapons face any charges for not registering them. Worse for the gun owner, one assumes that if an unregistered weapon of that kind is stolen and then used in a crime, the original owner will face additional civil and even criminal liabilities.

Since no one is talking about seizing anyone’s legally purchased guns or even restricting the legal purchase of such weapons, I just don’t think that most people are going to see the registration of the weapons as a serious imposition on anyone’s rights, or even their time. Most people who don’t own guns will find at least some thin reassurance in the fact that someone in law enforcement knows who has such weapons, and I am certain that a sizable percentage of gun owners will also see the sense in this very modest measure to enhance public safety.

In any case, one is compelled to wonder: Has the Far Right become so incoherent that gun owners are not just willingly but assertively associating themselves with the draft protesters of the 1960s?

Oh, that’s right, I forgot, gun-idiot Ted Nugent was a self-proclaimed draft-dodger.

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The first post in this series is available at: http://academeblog.org/2013/08/14/far-right-rhetorical-co-opt-item-1/

 

 

About martinkich

I am a Professor of English at Wright State University, where I have been a faculty member for almost 25 years. I serve as the president of the WSU chapter of AAUP, which now includes two bargaining units, as the vice-president of the Ohio Conference of AAUP, and as a member of the executive committee of AAUP's Collective Bargaining Congress. As co-chair of the Ohio Conference's Communication Committee, I began to do much more overtly political writing during the campaign to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, which would have eliminated the right of faculty to be unionized.

2 comments on “Far-Right Rhetorical Co-Opt, Item 2

  1. Aaron Barlow
    March 19, 2014

    Remember that draft dodgers like Nugent were quite different from the draft protesters. The draft dodgers were trying to get out–without consequence (sending another, one could say, to fight in their stead while they stayed at home living the good life). The draft protesters willingly broke laws (which draft dodgers did not do in an overt way) and willingly faced prison. I knew many young men who served time for their protests.

    The singer Phil Ochs wrote a song, “The Draft Dodger Rag” lambasting those (like Nugent) who cared only for themselves, doing anything they could not to go:

    “Oh, I’m just a typical American boy from a typical American town
    I believe in God and Senator Dodd and a-keepin’ old Castro down
    And when it came my time to serve I knew ‘better dead than red'”
    But when I got to my old draft board, buddy, this is what I said:

    Sarge, I’m only eighteen, I got a ruptured spleen
    And I always carry a purse
    I got eyes like a bat, and my feet are flat, and my asthma’s getting worse
    Yes, think of my career, my sweetheart dear, and my poor old invalid aunt
    Besides, I ain’t no fool, I’m going to school
    And I’m working in a defense plant.”

    The draft dodgers made no political statements… they were just wanting to save their own skin. Many, like Dick Cheney, continue to be those allowing others to go to war and die and kill while they sit at home and spout patriotic and jingoistic junk.

  2. martinkich
    June 28, 2014

    Reblogged this on Ohio Politics.

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This entry was posted on March 19, 2014 by in faculty.
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