The dam­ag­ing fu­til­ity of boy­cotts

Mak­ing a vil­lain of the NRA won’t save any lives

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Boy­cotts are nearly al­ways ugly busi­ness. They usu­ally pun­ish the in­no­cent, rarely slay the guilty and ac­com­plish only cheap pub­lic­ity for the grand­stand­ing self-right­eous. This time the boy­cotters are tak­ing aim at the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, the des­ig­nated vil­lain in the St. Valen­tine’s Day mas­sacre at a Florida high school.

The boy­cott is led by the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress, which stands proudly on the left­most ram­part of the lib­eral spec­trum, and is pro­pelled by In­ter­net bots and trolls of the sort that out­raged lib­er­als de­cried as hav­ing stolen the pres­i­dency for Don­ald Trump.

Iron­i­cally, some of those bots and trolls — elec­tron­i­cally gen­er­ated mes­sages on so­cial me­dia — are be­lieved to be Rus­sian mis­chief-mak­ers who want to cre­ate as much tur­moil as pos­si­ble in the Amer­i­can grass­roots, and to keep it roiled. Faked or not, the faux out­rage has bul­lied more than a dozen com­pa­nies into sev­er­ing long-stand­ing busi­ness ties to the NRA.

These ties are mostly part­ner­ships that of­fer com­mer­cial dis­counts to mem­bers of the ri­fle as­so­ci­a­tion, in­clud­ing En­ter­prise, Na­tional, Alamo, Avis, Hertz and Bud­get car rental com­pa­nies; United Air­lines and Delta Air Lines, Wyn­d­ham and Best West­ern ho­tels; and Al­lied and North Amer­i­can Van Lines. FedEx, the ubiq­ui­tous pack­age and doc­u­ment de­liv­er­ers world­wide, re­fused to be bul­lied and is now the tar­get of a sec­ondary boy­cott. The pain in­flicted by the boy­cott is felt not by the lead­ers and pol­icy-mak­ers of the NRA, but by prospec­tive cus­tomers who would oth­er­wise buy the goods and ser­vices of the boy­cotters. In the wake of tragedies such as the Florida mas­sacre, there’s al­ways a search for a scape­goat, and the louder the noise gen­er­ated by the hys­ter­ics in the me­dia, the greater the like­li­hood of lynch­ing the wrong vil­lain.

“The law-abid­ing mem­bers of the NRA had noth­ing at all to do with the fail­ure of that school’s se­cu­rity pre­parednes … or the cruel fail­ures of both fed­eral and lo­cal law en­force­ment,” a spokesman for the NRA rightly says. “De­spite that, some cor­po­ra­tions have de­cided to pun­ish NRA mem­ber­ship in a shame­ful dis­play of po­lit­i­cal and civic cow­ardice.”

The mas­sacre was a tragedy most of all for the fam­i­lies of the slain, but def­er­ence for the pain and suf­fer­ing of the in­no­cent never gets in the way of those who would ex­ploit the pain for the gain of the ex­ploiters. Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, where’s there’s a daily gun­fight at the OK cor­ral, fa­mously coun­seled his fel­low lib­eral Democrats to “never let a se­ri­ous cri­sis go to waste. And what I mean by that, it’s an op­por­tu­nity to do things you think you could not do be­fore.”

More than 160 House Democrats have taken His Honor’s ad­vice, sign­ing on as co-spon­sors of a House bill called the As­sault Weapons Ban of 2018, the work of Rep. David Ci­cilline, Rhode Is­land Demo­crat. His bill would ban 205 dif­fer­ent guns, all listed by name. That’s 48 more than he had when he in­tro­duced his leg­is­la­tion for the first time in 2015.

H.R. 5087 would “out­law the sale, trans­fer, pro­duc­tion, and im­por­ta­tion of semi-au­to­matic ri­fles and pis­tols that have a magazine, or can ac­cept a magazine that can hold more than 10 bul­lets, and any am­mu­ni­tion-feed­ing de­vice that can hold more than 10 bul­lets.”

The Ci­cilline bill is grand­stand­ing on a grand scale, be­cause he and his 162 co-spon­sors, all Democrats, un­der­stand that the leg­is­la­tion will go nowhere, just as it didn’t go any­where in 2015.

Like all boy­cotts, the boy­cott of the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion’s mem­bers in­vites the usual un­in­tended con­se­quences of hys­te­ria. Delta Air Lines, which is based in At­lanta, has put $40 mil­lion in tax breaks from the state of Geor­gia in jeop­ardy. Lt. Gov. Casey Ca­gle, a Repub­li­can can­di­date for gover­nor, vows to pre­vent a break on a tax on jet fuel “un­less [Delta] changes its po­si­tion and fully re­in­states its re­la­tion­ship with [the NRA].”

The boy­cott of the NRA is a po­lit­i­cal stunt that will ac­com­plish noth­ing. The public’s right­eous wrath over the deaths at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School should rightly be redi­rected at the Broward County Sheriff’s Of­fice, and the FBI, which ig­nored dozens of tips about the sin­is­ter be­hav­ior of Niko­las Cruz, 19, the con­fessed shooter. Tak­ing those tips se­ri­ously could have saved those 17 lives.

Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was gravely wounded at a sand­lot base­ball prac­tice by a de­ranged man with a gun, rightly ob­served that “the FBI had this kid handed to them on a sil­ver plat­ter, and dropped the ball.” Shall we boy­cott sand­lot base­ball?

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