At the annual National Rifle Association convention over the weekend in Houston, there were both unofficial and official moments of crazy. The vendor selling a bleeding, zombie-fied shooting target that looks disconcertingly like Barack Obama, for instance, was not up to NRA standards and was taken down after a request from the organizers. On the other hand, a man with lingering bitterness over the Civil War was named NRA president. Elsewhere in sanctioned extremism was Glenn Beck's keynote address, which included an image of Michael Bloomberg looking uncomfortably similar to a Nazi.
"When somebody argues for gun control, they are either living in self-imposed ignorance or they are just living an argument of control," Beck stressed to the crowd of more than 10,000. He urged the group "to make sure that we give no more power to those in government at any level," and held New York City up as an example of where things are headed. "I am amazed at how many of my New York friends have become absolute dopes and just will accept the soda ban, the popcorn ban, the salt ban," he spat. "I've come up with a new advertisement for New York, a new slogan: 'You will love New York!'"
The accompanying image, as seen above, showed Bloomberg giving a Nazi salute. The crowd roared.
"We are a sick society," said Beck, fear-mongering with his trademark faux-solemnity. "Have we gone insane? Have we gone insane?" he wondered. "Yes, we have. Yes, we have."
On the other side, ahead of Beck's speech, Howard Dean explained to Politico, "The NRA has essentially decided, whether consciously or not, to vacuum up the detritus left from the tendency of the Republican leadership to move to the middle. It almost sort of completes a journey for them from being a mainstream organization to sort of being the equivalent of the John Birch Society."
And yet, according to a poll last week, 34 percent of Americans view the NRA favorably, compared to 26 percent unfavorably. "Darkness," as Beck put it, "does not understand the light."