The red-hunting reign of terror by U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy reached a historic turning point June 9, 1954, when Joseph T. Welch, the counsel for the U.S. Army, asked McCarthy in a subcommittee meeting if he had “no sense of decency, sir. At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
Perhaps a comparable moment arrived this past weekend for the National Rifle Association. When Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s head honcho, was being interviewed on Fox News, he repeated an assertion made in one of the organization’s advertisements that schoolchildren everywhere are entitled to the same type of protection that President Obama’s children are afforded.
But interviewer Chris Wallace was having none of it: “Do you really think the president’s children are the same kind of target as every school child in America? That’s ridiculous and you know it, sir.”
In the close to two months since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the NRA has tried to peddle a vision of a dystopian society where threats lurk constantly and the only reasonable response to them is Americans purchasing more and more and more lethal weaponry. But it’s an absurd argument, and it was heartening to see that an interviewer, even for an outlet that would presumably be friendly to the NRA, no longer has patience for it.