By Jeff Knox: Opinion
Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- National Public Radio is a government-subsidized media conglomerate that is intended to..uhhhh?
Honestly, I spent over a decade in the radio business and I have no idea what NPR is intended to accomplish. What I do know that NPR is notoriously biased against conservatives, and while my brother enjoys listening to some of its programmings, I can't take much of it.
A recent article by NPR's Don Gonyea caught my attention because it included a picture of my father, and this article demonstrates the bias that Americans are so tired and frustrated with.
In the article, Gonyea uses former Representative Mike Synar of Oklahoma as an example of a politician targeted by the growing power and political activism of the organization in the '90s, and he uses an autographed picture of Synar with my father, as proof that Synar had been a friend of the NRA's – before he wasn't.
Here's some of what Gonyea had to say:
“Rep. Mike Synar, D-Okla., experienced NRA support early in his career, only to have the organization work against him as his views on guns shifted.” [emphasis added]
The way this is written, it suggests that NRA turned on Synar, but the truth is right there in the same sentence. Synar's “views on guns shifted.” So was the NRA to keep supporting him after he quit supporting the positions supported by the NRA? NRA's stance certainly did not get more hard-line in the years after Neal Knox was ousted from NRA-ILA. Synar ran and voted as a pro-rights Democrat during his first several terms, then, along with most of the Democrat Party, shifted to an anti-rights, pro-gun control position – stabbing NRA, and his own constituents, in the back.
Gonyea's bias is most apparent in his description of the transition of political power in Oklahoma from Democrat to Republican:
“Oklahoma, the home of legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, still had a deep populist strain in its politics. That has long faded, however, as the state's entire congressional delegation today is Republican and very conservative.”
Gonyea is conflating “populist” with Democrat, and that's a false suggestion. All electoral politics could be described as populist, but in the more technical sense, it is usually a reference to a movement that pits the “common man” against “elites.” Oklahoma was certainly “common man” country in the early '80s, and it still is today. My father was born in the small farming town of Rush Springs and spent much of his formative years in the Lawton area. His grandfather, a Mexican immigrant, was a cowboy and small-scale cotton farmer in the Indiahoma area, and his father was a life-long Democrat, though he quit actually voting for democrats long before his life was over.
These are our people, and the shift from Democrat to Republican was not a matter of the people abandoning populism, but rather of the Democrat Party and its politicians abandoning the core principles that had made them popular. Just as Mike Synar's strayed from his constituents, so too did the Democrat party stray from the people of Oklahoma. Oklahomans have always been “conservative,” and as Democrats became more “progressive,” Oklahomans became more Republican.
Gonyea provides examples of how Synar turned on the NRA and his constituents:
“He would also join his colleague in the House, then-Rep. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in co-sponsoring a ban on assault weapons.”
Then when “Synar sought his ninth term in Congress in 1994,” after voting in favor of the Clinton “assault weapons” ban, NRA actively worked against him, supporting another Democrat in the primary, and supporting his Republican replacement, Tom Coburn for many years thereafter.”
Many Democrats lost their seats after voting for the Clinton AW ban, as did several Republicans. This was one of the keystones of the 1994 “Republican Revolution,” but Gonyea wants to paint a different picture of that history, claiming that;
“Oklahoma was an increasingly conservative place, and Synar's progressive politics were increasingly attracting opposition.”
As stated previously, Oklahoma has always been a conservative place. It was not Oklahoma that strayed away from Synar and the Democrats, it was Synar and the Democrats who wandered away from their conservative constituency. If Chuck Schumer were to shift his position and start espousing and voting for lower taxes, smaller government, repeal of gun laws, and restrictions on abortion, would Gonyea claim that his New York City base had become more liberal and turned on him?
Even in the late '70s and early '80s, Dad would catch flack from many of his conservative allies for supporting Democrats like Synar, but at the time, there were still Democrats who would buck the party on the issue of gun control. We even had Democrats on the NRA Board of Directors back then. Eventually, that changed, as politicians like Synar, Deconcini of Arizona, and others started actively supporting gun control measures.
Just as it was Democrats, not the people, who changed their position in Oklahoma, it is Democrats, not the NRA or GunVoters, who turned gun control into a partisan issue.
We believe that the right to arms is a human right that belongs to everyone, regardless of their political leanings. We also believe that media that is funded in large part by our tax dollars, as NPR is, should make an effort to be balanced and accurate, not be a propaganda outlet for one political ideology.
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.